“It’s an old-fashioned attitude, wanting to be really thin” — Do Victoria Beckham’s comments on body image reflect modern mentality?
Though society’s attitudes to sizing have come on in leaps and bounds, dangerous trends seem destined to be repeated.
“Women today want to look healthy and curvy.”
In an interview promoting her brand’s capsule collection, Victoria Beckham told Grazia that the form-fitting and flattering VB Body range was inspired by the realisation that being skinny is an outdated desire.
Recalling the holiday to Miami that changed her perception of body ideals, the former Posh Spice was energised by the curvy women she saw owning their shape and size. “They walk along Miami beach with not a lot of clothes on, and they look fantastic,” Beckham said. “They show their bodies off with such confidence. I found both their attitude and their style really liberating. And as a mother, I loved that Harper was around women who were really celebrating their curves and enjoying how they look.”
Having previously spoken at length about her own struggles with body issues and disordered eating, the designer has come to the conclusion that “it’s not about being a certain size. It’s about knowing who you are and being happy with who you are.”
Going on to say that she has become more adept at striking a balance between “wanting to have fun and being disciplined about eating healthily and working out,” a regime that includes lifting heavy weights five or six days a week.
“Every woman wants a nice, round, curvy bottom, right?” Beckham says. “The curvier you are, the better my VB Body dresses look.” Referring to the brand new permanent collection, each piece is designed to hug the figure and celebrate simplicity. The collection ranges in size from a UK 6 to 18 and VB says, “I want this to be inclusive of body shape, of skin colour – and of budget … This isn’t just about me.”
While the sizes carried by the Victoria Beckham brand may be considered the average, if you’re going to pay lip service to inclusivity and accessibility, it’s got to go beyond a size 18. While Victoria Beckham’s sentiments were well-intentioned and optimistic, a familiar trend is beginning to reemerge that suggests the hunger for thinness still prevails and is making shopping incredibly difficult. According to a survey carried out by Oxendales, 45% of Irish women call their body type pear-shaped. The survey, aimed at gaining insight into the attitudes, behaviours and feelings of females in Ireland to see how our body type perceptions affects fashion and shopping choices, found that 9% of respondents described their body shape as hourglass, 9.4% voted strawberry shaped, and 16.4% referred to their body as rhubarb shaped, with over 36% of Irish women describing shopping for their body type to be ‘hard/very hard’ and 50% described it as ‘neutral i.e sometimes easy, sometimes hard’ and only 14% described shopping for their body type as easy.
In 2009, just thirteen years ago, Kate Moss uttered the controversial statement ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ as one of her many mantras, prompting quite a bit of backlash. Having since expressed her regret, the model spoke to NBC about the growing levels of diversity being seen in mainstream media. “There’s so many different sizes and colours and heights,” she said. “Why would you just [have] a one-size model being [representative] for all of these people?”
The body positivity movement continues to make further room for a wider scope of representation, and the wellness boom has promoted healthy eating and an active lifestyle, it’s absolutely true that attitudes have shifted. But as with all trend cycles, are the cigarettes and smudged eyeliner of the controversially dubbed ‘heroin chic’ days upon us once more?
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“Smoking is back,” wrote the New York Times as they reported that, in 2020, cigarette sales had increased for the first time in two decades. Since the 1990s are providing the style inspiration of the moment, it was only a matter of time before attention turned to the more problematic aesthetics of the era.
Grunge and gaunt, thin limbed and dark circled, the waifish models and it-girls of the moment glorified being dangerously thin and glamorised the use of drugs to an alarming extent. In 1997, then-president Bill Clinton commented that “fashion photos in the last few years have made heroin addiction seem glamorous and sexy and cool.”
This then had its resurgence during the days of Tumblr, where people would share pro-ana (pro-anorexia) tips, and generally promote the ideals of thinness. Breeding an unhealthy obsession with calories and a culture of disordered eating among the youth, it seems as though the trend is circling back once again.
Filtered through a post-Euphoria lens, we’re seeing the next generation falling victim to the idealisation of thinness play out on TikTok. With low rise jeans and micro minis becoming must-have items, industry tastemakers are reverting back to using the body as an accessory.
While the app has numerous creators promoting healthy habits and having a positive attitude to your body no matter the size, videos romanticising thinness and body checking continue to circulate.
Ultimately, while Victoria Beckham’s perception of a universally revitalised attitude toward our bodies is hopeful, we continue to fall victim to ever-re emerging trends.