Opinion Graphic fall 2020

The connection between body image issues and social media is a fairly new and modern phenomenon with considerable uncharted territory. Researchers must collect this type of data through honest surveys, which can sometimes be unreliable, and collecting data to prove the effects can be difficult because media and its impacts on society are a fairly new concept. 

Long before modern media, there has always been the idea of “body trends” — the societal expectation of what a woman's body should look like in that certain time period. It seems as though every decade there is another expectation that women must adhere to in order to be considered beautiful.

For example, the 1910s trend required a soft curved body with a small waist, while the 1920s preferred a small chest with a very narrow and petite body. Then again in the 1950s curves were all the rage until the 1960s rolled around, and it was back to the straight and narrow body type.

Now, yet again, in today’s age, we have transitioned from the extremely small and slim-framed trend from the 1990s to the overly extreme “slim thick” trend of the last 10 years. Kim Kardashian, an internet sensation and reality TV star, is considered to be the pioneer of the “slim thick” trend by encouraging body modification to appear abnormally large on bottom and unrealistically small on top.

The birth of “slim thick,” while supposed to encourage natural bodies, seems to be the worst and most difficult standard for women to uphold in history. The definition of this body trend requires big and toned thighs, a plump and large behind, larger hips and a very toned stomach. Not only is this ratio nearly impossible without undergoing plastic surgery, the number of requirements goes beyond any trend women have had to face before.

Now, a new decade of trends is supposedly just around the corner, as Kim K. has reportedly stopped receiving the Brazilian Butt Lift that started it all. BBLs have become a very popular surgery that started as a trend with celebrities and quickly became common among the general public.

A BBL is a procedure in which fat is removed from one area and transferred to another — perfect for obtaining the slim thick body type, as fat can be removed from one’s stomach and transferred to your backside. But the surgery comes with a great risk, as it is considered to be the most dangerous cosmetic surgery with a 3% death rate. The common usage of plastic surgery has increased issues of poor body image in young people, especially as reality TV shows focusing on these surgeries gain popularity.

It has become a part of media culture to use bodies as a sort of advertisement for various brands or businesses. Whatever seems to be the ideal body of the decade has been used to sell workout gear, nutrition supplements, diet pills and plastic surgeries to young individuals.

When women see these advertisements of happy, highly celebrated and beautiful models, a connection clicks into place that in order to be happy or celebrated, they must aspire to look like these individuals.

Many articles across the internet have reported Kardashian’s slimmer look, while she herself said she lost 20 pounds in a very short period of time. Because of her incredible influence on body trends and the internet, fans have come to the conclusion that “skinny is back.”

Young people view these reality TV celebrities as role models, therefore celebrities have the power to influence these people in any way they like. That role comes with great responsibility and every move must be carefully made. Kim K. discussing her quick weight loss of 20 pounds and her removal of her BBL with the internet is just one example of celebrities using their power to influence.

While the skinny trend may be more naturally obtained than the slim thick trend, the issue at hand is the effects that these rapidly changing trends have on women. It feels as though women will never have the chance to be satisfied with their own unique bodies because a new “perfect body” arises every 10 years or so. One minute, your body may be considered ideal, and the next you are advised to a complete 180 transition.

With the increasing interest in body positivity movements and certain brands switching from “perfect models” to real people with real bodies, body trends must be the next step in erasing all standards of beauty. If society is to continue taking steps in the right direction and taking initiative against the negative body conformity, the idea of letting celebrities such as Kardashian determine the next standard for women must disappear

Being skinny and being slim thick cannot go “in” and “out” as they are not something to be trendy. The one trend that should continue through all decades is that all bodies are beautiful bodies, and the media can wisely use their influence to make that a reality.

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