heroin chic is back

As a size 16, I desperately need people to know my body is not a dying trend

Heroin chic might be ‘back’ – but hating your body doesn’t have to be

Growing up as a chubby child in the 2000s meant I was aware, every microsecond of every day, how much society was against me. From the age of four, when I should’ve been contentedly oblivious to things like weight and body image, I had an inexplicable urge to change the way I looked. 

Diet culture was ingrained in absolutely everything back then, in a way that, thank god, it isn’t now. I’d turn on the TV and see Fat Families being mocked in front of millions. I’d go to the supermarket and watch my mum buy Skinny Cow (yep, that was a real brand name) ice cream instead of Walls. I’d flick through Mizz Magazine, pouring over page-after-page of size-two celebs opening up about their skinny secrets; longing to look like them.

This was the tail-end of the “heroin chic” era – where a woman’s worth was based on how frail she looked, how deep her eye-bags were, and how little she ate on a daily basis. 

heroin chic is back

Photo via Everett Collection/Shutterstock

By the time I was at uni, the Body Positivity movement started to move into public awareness. Suddenly, successful women of all different shapes and sizes were starting to take centre-stage. Ashley Graham, Megan Jayne Crabbe and Tess Holliday were gracing the covers of magazines: I was beginning to feel I could look like myself and be admired, attractive, adored. 

Body Positivity evolved from the original Fat Acceptance movement – founded in the 1960s to challenge the taboo of obesity. As BoPo gained in momentum, the term widened to encompass other types of bodies facing the same stigma – plus-sized, mid-sized, trans, disabled and chronically ill. 

But as we moved away from skinny bodies being the standard; the Hollywood publicity machine caught on. Seemingly overnight, we saw the Kardashians popularising butt lifts, hip-widening augmentations and breast implants. Advertisers decided men wanted a “little more booty to hold at night,” and sold us on an idea that we were now allowed to be fat… within reason. 

body positivity

Photo via @ashleygraham and @meganjaynecrabbe on Instagram

I’d gone from deeply despising every inch of my body, to acknowledging this new privilege I held. At the time, I wasn’t “the wrong kind of fat”. I had a small waist, a squatter’s bum and wide hips. My stomach didn’t spill out of my jeans when I sat down. My body was a trend. And now, half-a-decade later, it isn’t. 

Kim Kardashian has dissolved her fillers. Size-six TikTokers are calling themselves “large”. And, most infuriatingly, the tabloids are proclaiming: “Heroin chic is BACK! Bye-bye booty!” 

Diet culture has left me (and countless others) with a lifetime of issues. But the core of the problem is that the media treats our bodies – our homes, the vessels that keep us safe and healthy – like tacky trends.

We CAN’T let them do this to us again. Whether we’re in a heroin-chic or slim-thick era; your body is perfect, just the way it is. 

Related stories recommended by this writer: