Kardashians Are Removing Their Butt Implants, but Why Should Anyone Care?
It could be the beginning of a new, even more problematic, era
Rumour has it that the Kardashian clan have finally removed their BBL's.
If you've been living under a rock and don't know what that means, BBL - short for Brazilian Butt Lift - is a fat transfer operation that helps create a Kardashian-worthy bum.
In recent years, it has actually become one of the most sought-after cosmetic surgery procedures globally. But it's also the most dangerous one to exist - 1 in 3,000 BBL's result in death. Which means that for years women have been quite literally putting their lives in grave danger in the pursuit of the 'ideal' buttocks and a slim-thick figure. How lovely.
However, it looks like this pursuit might be coming to an abrupt end.
Apart from Kardashians getting rid of their BBL's, the '2014 Tumblr girl' aesthetic is coming back, which means the revival of soft-grunge, indie sleazecore, low rise jeans and twee fashion. In other words, the polar opposite of what the slim-thick era was all about.
Could all of this mean that the reign of curves and big butts is over? And if so, what does it mean for female body standards, and why should we care about it, to begin with?
From breasts implants, ultra-skinniness to big butts
Women's bodies are going in and out of style at lightning speed. Yup, I know that's horrible. But that doesn't make it any less true.
In the late 90s and early 2000s, large breasts and impossibly thin bodies were all the rage. Everyone wanted to look like Pamela Anderson or Anna Nicole Smith. Only that body type wasn't exactly achievable by exercise, diet, or a combination of both. You've had to have chest implants to get there. And so between 2000 and 2006, the procedure's popularity rose by a whopping 55%.
But then the pumped-up breast trend started to deflate around the mid-2000s - which is also when the Tumblr site was launched. Suddenly, everyone wanted to be visibly underweight. Everywhere. And fashion trends followed that.
I'm a 90s kid, so I sadly remember this 'nothing tastes as good as skinny feels' era all too well.
Women, particularly adolescent girls, were led to believe that if you don't look like a hardcore drug user that just came back from a 6-months long bender and is on the verge of dying, you are worthless. No man will ever want you. You're a disgusting, fat pig that better go back to eating fast food and ice cream all day and cry yourself to sleep.
Good times, huh?
Many perfectly healthy and thin female celebrities were routinely mocked for not adhering to this insane pressure. Mischa Barton was called fat. And so was Ashley Simpson. Leighton Meester. Kim Kardashian. And many others.
Luckily, that ultra-thin aesthetic was eventually replaced with the slim-thick obsession around the late 2010s. And curvy women finally stopped being considered 'fat.' But only if - in addition to having larger hips, bum and thighs - they also had a tiny waist and flat stomach. Right. Because as we all know, we can control exactly where the fat goes in our body. Not.
Still, when contrasted with the past body shape trends that required women to be waif-thin, this felt like a breath of fresh air.
Sorry, but I'm not going to defrost my eating disorder
Now it looks like living by the mantra, 'thick thighs save lives,' might be slowly becoming a thing of the past.
And we're back to square one.
Even though women's idealised bodies have changed dramatically over time, we keep coming back over and over again to this ultra-skinny body type. But the thing is, unless you're naturally skinny or petite or you're an adolescent girl, that figure is difficult - if not entirely impossible - to achieve for most adult women. Unless they starve themselves or have their fat sucked out of their bodies, of course.
When I was a teenager and a young adult, most girls I knew struggled with eating disorders. We wanted to look like those skinny girls you could see practically everywhere, from movies, TV, magazines to fashion runways. And there were so many weird, nonsensical, toxic fixations on women's bodies in the media we were all exposed to that only made it worse.
Beware of the fat ankles! And fat knees! And fat wrists! And fat cheeks! And fat fingers! And tummy rolls! And love handles! And double chin! And cellulite!
As a result, some of my friends had bulimia. Some had anorexia. Some were addicted to laxatives. Some were smoking cigarettes instead of eating. Some ate rice cakes for practically every single meal. Or bananas - well, actually, that one was me.
And guess what? Most of us were too 'fat', anyway. It took real dedication - ahem, starvation - to get to the point of being skinny enough.
It wasn't an easy time for young girls and women.
When the '2014 Tumblr Girl' skinny/indie/twee aesthetic was in full bloom, millions of women and girls had body image anxiety. And the majority of them - at any age - were dissatisfied with their appearance.
So to see that specific trend being resurrected now, coupled up with the end of the slim-thick reign, makes me concerned. Not really for myself - I will definitely not be defrosting my eating disorder any time soon - but for the younger generation of girls.
The silent epidemic that never really went away
It's estimated that eating disorders are among the deadliest mental illnesses - second only to an opioid overdose - affecting at least 9% of the population worldwide. Every 52 minutes, a person struggling with an eating disorder dies.
And sadly, the majority of those who suffer and die from it are women and girls.
Whether it's a binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa or bulimia - all of these illnesses can lead to an array of physical and psychological effects, both minor and severe. Dry skin, lost muscle mass, brittle hair and nails, distorted thoughts, obsessive behaviours, low self-esteem and extreme thinness are some of the more apparent symptoms.
However, eating disorders can also cause further physical conditions, such as Type II diabetes and pancreatitis, or result in self-harm, anxiety, depression, or even suicide.
It's a nightmare of a disease.
And we've had a silent epidemic of it for a while now. It got worse in the early 2010s, and it never really went away. And it won't anytime soon if we allow the young generations to repeat the mistakes of our youth.
It's hard enough to be a teenage girl in today's world of Instagram filters, photoshopped-to-perfection selfies and bikini pics, and beauty and cosmetic surgery industries coming up with new insecurities every season without adding the ultra-thin bodies obsession on top of all of it. Again.
And sure, at least we have the body positivity movement trying to combat all of this actively.
Although sometimes I can't help but wonder if it also - unintentionally - contributes to our unhealthy obsession with female bodies?
What if we replaced body positivity with body neutrality?
Some time ago, I decided to do a bit of spring cleaning of my social media, and I unfollowed all of the 'aspirational' influencers. And instead, I followed people whose content and insights I actually wanted to see on my feed.
Among them were the body positivity influencers.
Unlike your regular online 'celebrities,' these are the creators that promote general self-love and usually post pictures of their bodies or parts of their bodies that they consider 'flawed' - hip dips, love handles, stomach rolls, cellulite etc. Hell, even I did a couple of posts like that some time ago.
But I recently had a bit of a change of heart. While I agree with the underlying objective behind the body positivity movement - which is to challenge societal and individual perceptions of weight, size, and appearance - I'm increasingly sceptical of the direction it's headed.
I feel like we've come full circle regarding our obsession with body image.
Because now, when I open my social media, the only type of content I see from all these body positivity influencers is pictures of half-naked female bodies or body parts accompanied with some sort of an inspirational quote.
Love your body. Love every single flaw. If you can't love your looks, you can't expect others to.
But what if I don't?
I'm finally at a point in my life where I got into a habit of exercising regularly and eating well, and I still don't love how I look like. Most likely, I never will. And honestly? I'm ok with this. I want to focus on other, more important things in my life than my body.
Trying to convince yourself to be in love with your body can be exhausting. And even pointless.
We don't need to connect our bodies to our sense of self-worth. We don't need to love how we look to have a happy and fulfilling life. Or to be loved by others. We should all aim to acknowledge what our body can do for us instead of just focusing on how it looks.
That's precisely what body neutrality is all about, and, honestly, I think it's time it replaced the body positivity movement.
Women's bodies will continue to go out of style over and over again
While we can't control these trends, we can - and should - control how we react to them.
And the best way to react is by… not reacting. By not letting those trends get into our heads. By ignoring yet another article or post telling us to go on an extreme diet because our stomach doesn't look the way it did when we were 14. And ultimately, by slowly moving away from this constant obsession with how our bodies look like.
Because if we don't stop caring less about all of this, things will never change for the next generation of women, the one after that, and so on.
We should all strive to be intelligent, resilient, kind, empathetic and keep ourselves healthy and happy instead of obsessing over things we can't change or falling in love with our reflection that one day will inevitably be gone, don't you think so?
This story was originally published on Medium.