This article contains topics that may be sensitive to some readers, including body image and weight, and depictions of drug use.
Please know that you’re not alone, and reach out for help if you need it.
Ageing alongside the evolution of digital media has led to some intense growing pains. I was born in the Heroin Chic era, where a slim physique was all the rage. My teenage years were led alongside other young teens who were then following the 2014 Tumblr trends. My later years of secondary education were followed by the BBL era, where the Kardashians were at the centre of social media. Then followed the long-awaited ‘body positivity’ era for all. It still isn’t quite there yet, with ‘plus sized models’ only just entering the modelling and fashion industry, but at least the world is becoming a more inclusive place. Progress was being made in the fashion industry and it felt like audiences from different paths of life were finally being recognised. Social media was the promoter and protagonist for enabling fans to feel heard and seen. But social media also came with certain models and influencers promoting a specific standard of beauty, including the overuse of editing and filter softwares, where trust between viewer and promoter were seemingly lost along the way. Although these illusions were a deterrent in curating a less problematic society, it’s the return of certain beauty standards that have led to a lack of wasted potential – with articles and news networks promoting ‘The Return of Heroin Chic.’
Heroin Chic was defined in the early 1990’s, the roots being established from famous fashion icons like Kate Moss who were characterised by their thin bodies, pale complexion, dark undereye circles, and overall ‘party girl look.’ All such correlated to heroin abuse and/or other opioid drug use. Not only is this Heroin Chic return damaging for those who see this phrase as the early 90’s Kate Moss, “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” era, it’s also damaging for the drug depiction that endorses heroin and other drugs as a key for weight loss.
When I was between the ages of thirteen and sixteen, websites such as Tumblr were damaging for me as a growing teen. Restrictions on certain posts and images during this time weren’t enabled, and I was left to believe that what I was consuming was knowledge to be remembered and idolised. With the evolution of digital media came growing applications such as Tik Tok. This app must be one of the most damaging I’ve ever encountered. Tik Tok does have many positive side-effects for creators, including the growth of one’s social media and the widespread popularity of music samples across a range of apps. However, some trends and influencers aren’t healthy for young and old minds to be consuming.
Body image has continued to stay prevalent in our society and it seemingly felt that brands were trying harder to become more inclusive and work towards encouraging a more diverse beauty standard. Music stars like Lizzo and Megan Thee Stallion shone their confidence on stage and expressed how their body was something not to be ashamed of. All it took was Tik Tok to tear this hard work down, promoting the return of skinny, and worrying social media users about what body type they should have. The intense number of searches on Tik Tok that explored videos relating to ‘thinspo’ was so alarming the application has since blocked the search of the term Heroin Chic. As someone who finds themselves entering the Tik Tok hole daily, my ‘For You Page’ was led predominately by ‘vine-like’ skits and memes. But occasionally, there would be a random post about the return of skinny, or how a young teen should eat to get a certain body. I felt horrified and would instantly block these accounts that led a damaging storyline. But I worry for those who are easily influenced, as this return of Heroin Chic triggers vulnerable minds.
With Bella Hadid being labelled, ‘the most beautiful woman on Earth,’ The Kardashians removing their BBL’s, and the damaging supermodel industry promoting thin-to-equal-pretty, it’s hard for viewers not to compare. But women’s bodies are not trends. Our worth and beauty is not determined by a number, scale, or thigh gap.
Tabloids and social media platforms are roaring with this return. The Kardashian family has been a key for body shifts for over a decade – how much longer can we allow this to go on? One of the latest episodes of their newly released TV show saw a mention of Khloe’s recent weight loss, with her smiling at the fact her sisters deemed her to be looking ‘very thin.’ As an average citizen, I understand the curiosity to live in someone else’s shoes for a day, and their TV show encourages viewers to obsess over excessive wealth. But how can the producers, family, and viewers not see an issue with how they use their influence to promote unhealthy beauty standards? They don’t use their platform to promote world issues, or how their viewers can seek help if they’re struggling, they just continue to stay this generation’s trendsetter and influence their followers on how to look, dress, and induce wealth. I do not fully blame this family for bringing back this unhealthy body image obsession, but I do believe they could use their platform to better spread resources for those who may also be struggling.
As humans, we are not trends nor products. Therefore, our bodies are not trends and we can not allow social media to tell us otherwise. I strongly encourage those with Tik Tok or other inducing social media platforms to recognise that some platforms are not healthy for our minds. It’s great to take a break and block accounts that aren’t benefiting us for the better. If you’re finding yourself reverting to unhealthy ‘trends,’ seek help and delete applications that are influencing your mind for the worse.
This generation was something I was slowly beginning to feel inspired by. We led each other with ideologies to embrace things that were not once the social norm. We taught those around us to stop judging those with tattoos and piercings, and revert those conservative ideologies to embrace the new way of expressing oneself. We used social media as platforms to enhance our voice, advocating for topics and issues that made others not feel so alone. We began to rejoice at the fact that the fashion industry was finally becoming inclusive for all body shapes and sizes. Why are we backpedalling?
This Heroin Chic return is damaging. As a generation, we should use our voice to promote that our body is a vessel that carries us through life. It is not a trend.
Hi, I’m Rachel. I like reading, writing, but no so much arithmetics. I indulge in so much TV and media I thought ‘why not write on it?’