Pop Culture Rewind: The plot thiccens

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Words || Freya Jokela

When you think of things going in and out of trend you probably think of fashion or FarmVille. But a trend that continues to change throughout history is society’s obsession with the bodies of women. If we look at the Italian renaissance we see images of women with ample bosom and round stomachs, while the golden era of Hollywood popularised the pinched waist. When Twiggy came along she gave mass market appeal to a slimmer build. The svelte but curvy figure popularised in the 80s was then overtaken by heroin chic aesthetic and if you asked “does my bum look big in this” and some dared to say yes they would be excommunicated from your life. But in the last few years ‘slim-thick’ has been the body type to rise in popularity. The term ‘thicc’ comes from AAVE – African American Vernacular English, as do most words we consider ‘internet slang’ or ‘stan language’ these days – while the phrase was popularised by Fetty Wap in his song Jimmy Choo.

What do Kim Kardashian and Mrs Incredible have in common? They thicc. Small waist, large abdomen. Like an ant. If you have no clue what I’, talking about just search ‘thicc’ or ‘booty goals’ on Instagram. There has been a recent shift towards body positivity since the early 2000s supported by the marketing campaigns of large scale cosmetics brands such as Dove. You know, those campaigns where a group of 7 women of different sizes stand next to each other hugging? Brands love to market their inclusivity, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s a great way to showcase the company’s ethics and invite a wider customer base. After all, soap isn’t just for skinny people.

Back to Instagram, the birth place of all that is trendy. I was reading up about the thicc phenomenon and frankly, it’s all a little ridiculous and hard to define and I very quickly lost track of all the comments saying “this isn’t thicc, this is fat” etc. As someone who has had weight ‘issues’ for pretty much my whole life I’m just a little fucking sick of it. Don’t get me wrong, these men and women are stunning and I can see why this whole phenomenon really kicked off, but introducing a new category for people to be boxed into isn’t doing anyone any favours. Like cool, now I have to try and be slim and thick as well as all these other things? Sorry, I don’t have time to be doing 500 squats a day, I’m trying to have a life here. Even if I could do 500 squats a day (or even over my life expectancy) and only wear extremely high cut swim suits in my Instagram pictures, it doesn’t guarantee maximum booty gains. If you weren’t blessed with genetics that give you a plump posterior and a flat stomach you’ll have to work twice as hard.

It just sorta sucks ass (ha) that the spread of body positivity has taken such a weird turn. It seems apparent now more than ever that it is only ever okay for fat to grow in certain parts of your body. While boobs and bums might benefit from this, it’s a tough time for stomachs, arms, necks, backs, calves and the other 80% of your anatomy. But hey, you win some you lose some. I just don’t see why you should have to. I want to take a moment here to address skinny shaming too. Obviously it is an important issue and one that is pretty disregarded and I didn’t want to write an article on body image without at the very least mentioning it. Skinny shaming sucks, especially when your body is out of your control and is just genetically made to look a certain way. That being said I can only really speak on behalf of bigger bodies and the lack of privilege and hatred that they face day to day.

It is just so hard to be able to be confident in your own skin no matter the size, shape or colour and I truly commend anyone who has been able to achieve 100% satisfaction with themselves. While I love my body (most of the time) and appreciate that it is healthy works perfectly, I know that is isn’t the reality for most people out there. People will always want to look a certain way, make something a little smaller, another thing a little bigger. And while that is okay and normal, its not necessarily healthy, and I recommend that if you are having serious issues with your self image consult a psychologist, councillor or GP. But at the end of the day, you know your body best. My high school counselor told me that my depression could be cured by losing weight. The jury is still out on that one, Karen.

Throughout my university life I have managed to come up with a solution that works for me, one that has made me look at my body in a positive light. To put it simply, I have just stopped giving a flying fuck. Obviously this doesn’t always work and people will always be critical of you, but honestly ever since trying to adopt this mentality my head is so much clearer. I talk to who I want, I eat what I want, I do what i want, I wear what I want, and it has built up my confidence and opened up so many doors. I am successfully pursuing my academic career, I have an amazing job that accepts all humans and encourages body positivity, lovely friends, and a partner who I care for deeply. If I was still stuck in my room looking up crash diets and trying on 15 different outfits before a party I can guarantee that I would not be where I am today.

Again this advice isn’t for everyone. It can be incredibly difficult and yes, I have a mini-breakdown once a while, but I also see doctors regularly. It’s all about maintaining balance. To finish, are some of my favourite body positive Instagram accounts that show love for people on matter where their fat sits on their body. Rectangle, Hourglass, Pear, Apple, Banana, Orange, In the words of My Big Fat Greek Wedding’s Costas Portokalos, “in the end, we all fruit”.