Can We Please (Please!) Stop Talking About Body Types Like They Are Trends?



Last week, there was a pretty fascinating piece on Greatist that delved into the history of the “perfect female body,” and how much—and often—society’s perception of what that means has changed throughout the past century—from the curvy Gibson Girl in 1910 to the Twig in 1960 to the Booty Babe (their words, not mine) now.

My reaction to the piece, which showcased 10 decades of “trendy” female bodies bouncing from stick thin, á la Winona Ryder, to break-the-internet hourglass figures á la Kim Kardashian, was this: The “perfect female body” is bullshit—and when, oh when, are we going to stop talking about body types like they are trends?

In a piece titled “We’re Officially in the Era of the Big Booty,” published by Vogue in September, the author echoes the idea that the Booty Babe is the current trend. She mentions the release of Destiny’s Child’s “Bootylicious” video way back in 2001 and follows by saying, “The song was a hit, of course, and the video, a fun dance party without a twerk in sight, brought a new kind of figure into the spotlight. Still, it would be another decade before people were ‘ready for this jelly’ to become the ultimate standard of beauty.”

So if we’re taking Vogue’s word for what body types are “in” and “out,” Beyoncé only had to wait until she was 30 for hers to be dubbed “in” by the fashion magazine. And if Greatist’s piece on the history of trendy body types proves accurate, she’s only got about five more years ’til her big booty is considered “out” again.

But when the Booty Babe is dubbed as irrelevant as last year’s Prada, Beyoncé and all the other lovely ladies who fit the Booty Babe mold won’t simply—Poof!—cease to exist. They’ll still be living their lives, in their bodies, big-bootied or otherwise.

See the problem? A body type isn’t a trendy accessory.

You can’t spot one deemed “on trend” in a magazine and go buy it on NET-A-PORTER. You’re born with your body, whatever it is: short, tall, big boobs, tiny waist, and the list goes on and on. And of course, there’s some wiggle room thanks to personal trainers and plastic surgery—maybe you can transform your up-and-down figure to more of an hourglass shape with some focus on your obliques. Maybe. And maybe you can get your booty in Beyoncé-shape with the help of a trainer, but it won’t be easy: In an article published in the New York Times, also discussing the rise (no pun intended) of the big booty, trainer Erika Nicole Kendall says doing so will “literally take you eight to 24 months.” And by the time you’ve reached that trendy Booty Babe status, the Waif trend may back. And then what?

In the end, your body is your body. Just like you can’t spot one you like and click “buy now,” you also can’t decide you don’t like yours and return it. So can we please stop talking about our bodies—and other people’s bodies, while we’re at it—like they are a pair of shoes that have been declared “in” or “so out” this season?

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