Style heroin chic that marked the 90s would come back in force on the planet of fashion. Can this idealization of thin bodies impact girls and women? Yes, but only for some. Explanations.
At fashion shows in Europe this fall, we saw very, very thin girls on the runway. Many beauty models popular right now, both on the runway and on social media, are all tiny. Miniskirts and low-rise jeans are back in style. All these observations led the New York Post to establish an observation, this month: the heroin chic is back.
Those over 40 will remember very well this trend from the early 90s, embodied by British model Kate Moss. Emaciated body, pale and angular face, dark circles around the eyes… In short, the look of someone who uses heroin, but who dresses well.
According to New York Post, therefore, the curves à la Kim Kardashian would give way to the lean bodies of models such as Bella Hadid, Kaia Gerber (daughter of Cindy Crawford) and Lila Moss (daughter of Kate Moss). Kim Kardashian herself is sporting an increasingly slimmer figure, noted the tabloid, which sees the trend as a “radical shift” from the body-acceptance movement of recent years.
The article caused a stir, both in the press and on social media, where women complained that the female silhouette could be considered a “trend”.
If the fashion industry once had a monopoly on images, in recent years social networks have promoted other ideals of beauty, such as thin-thick – petite size, flat stomach, rounded hips and thighs – and appearance in shape — lean, but with defined muscles.
Social networks, vehicles of the image
“Social media has really changed the landscape of beauty ideals by bringing more diversity, even if those other ideals aren’t necessarily easier to achieve,” notes Jennifer Mills, a psychology professor at York University in Toronto. , which focuses on body image and eating behavior disorders. “But the ideal of thinness has never really disappeared—there’s simply more variety in thin bodies,” she sums up.
However, among the models in sight at the moment, several are “very, very thin,” agrees Professor Mills, who spontaneously thinks of Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid. Two girls who are very popular on social networks, who make a lot of money and who are seen a lot. “The more images you see, the more you internalize that this is what’s popular, and that this has to be what’s cool and attractive,” sums up Jennifer Mills.
On TikTok, viral trends are a pretext for some Internet users to communicate their weight loss tips, such as “What I eat in a day” or “My name is Bella Hadid.” With Bella Hadid’s voice in the background, tiktokers explain when they feel like her: after fasting, after running out of dessert, after eating a salad…
When you search for “thinspiration” in its search engine, TikTok now refers to an eating disorder help center.
Can these idealized images of very thin girls cause eating disorders in those who see them often?
According to pediatrician Jean Wilkins, who treats adolescent girls at CHU Sainte-Justine, it’s “very, very rare” for a patient to say she wants to look like a public figure. “What I’m seeing the most in recent years are teenage girls who don’t necessarily want to be this person or that person, but who just don’t want to be who they are,” she says.
The images probably have a limited effect on the development of anorexia nervosa, which results from a genetic predisposition, Professor Jennifer Mills points out. They can, however, encourage girls and women to stick to a diet, she says. And for some women, these fad diets can cause bulimic behavior or even overtraining.
Of course, these standards of beauty also generate physical dissatisfaction… but only for some women, Jennifer Mills shade: those who tend to compare their bodies to what they see in photos, and those who believe they would be happier if it looked like this.
“It’s also something you can work on with the kids. Separate having a slim body from having a better life,” she advises.
The CEO and co-founder of the Center for Online Emotional Intelligence, Emmanuelle Parent agrees that the thin ideal is very present in social networks. It is propagated by stars like Bella Hadid, but also through the advertising of the powerful fashion and slimming industries.
However, the abundance of these images varies from one profile to another, depending on the algorithms. Emmanuelle Parent’s Instagram and TikTok feeds are more rooted in body diversity, as she follows the accounts of people who are campaigning in this direction.
“The little control we have is precisely to subscribe to pages that encourage us to find ourselves beautiful,” Emmanuelle Parent points out. What we send as a message to the platform is that these are things worth sharing and spreading. »
Danae Mercer’s Instagram account
With her 2.3 million followers on Instagram, the American journalist Danae Mercer is one of those who encourage women to feel good about their bodies and to stop confronting the unrealistic images circulating on social networks.