Skinny shouldn’t be the goal—healthy should be

The importance of re-examining our modern beauty standards as young adults

Image by: Amna Rafiq
Celebrities’ bodies can be the result of unhealthy habits.

This article discusses disordered eating and body image and may be triggering for some readers. The Canadian Mental Health Association Crisis Line can be reached at

Trends come and trends go, and that truth is best seen in the shifting fashion and beauty standards in our society. Celebrity culture acts like a magnifying glass to our society, as these figures dictate and mimic what’s trendy in our everyday lives.

This is best seen with celebrities who have careers that span multiple decades—what Ashley Tisdale wore on the red carpet in 2005 is vastly different from what she would wear today.

Fashion isn’t the only thing that trends; bodies do, too. The body type that was in Vogue for the past few years was the ‘slim-thick’ body type, which came in tandem with the proliferation of more body-positive messages as a body positivity movement rose.

It was a rocky road to get there, but with fashion companies embracing plus-sized models and retailers offering a more diverse range of sizes, what was deemed acceptable and beautiful expanded to be more inclusive.

Then Kim Kardashian and co. shed the ‘slim, thick’ body type and we saw a rise in ultra-skinny bodies being seen as ultra-fashionable again. This begs the question: was thinness ever not fashionable?

The idea that the body positivity movement was 100 per cent positive and effective is flawed. ‘Skinniness’ is still tied to the image of attractiveness; that’s why ultra-thin and ultra-tall models still dominate the runways, and why certain fashion retailers actively discriminate against plus-sized people.

Abercrombie and Fitch is infamously known to be hostile to plus-sized shoppers, with its former CEO Mike Jeffries making it difficult for diverse body types to buy their clothing.

Just because ‘slim-thick’ was the body type of the decade doesn’t mean thinness wasn’t prioritized. It’s important to remember that ‘slim’ is the modifier to ‘thick,’ so a certain type of skinniness is expected to be acceptable.

Due to these expectations, diet culture is still promoted in our society, dressed up in ‘health-focused’ language. We’re easily fooled by juice cleanses, restrictive dieting, and various other techniques for losing weight.

The problem here is this standard is unattainable and unhealthy for many. ‘Heroin-chic,’ the ultra-thin ideal that proliferated the early 2000s and dominated the media of our childhood, is called that because it’s associated with weight loss from heavy drug use.

Celebrities profit from these toxic messages by being images of what we should attain. To fit into Marilyn Monroe’s dress, Kim Kardashian glamourized crash dieting on television—in Disney+’s The Kardashians—to rapidly lose weight in an unsustainable and unhealthy manner.

Among young people, this incredibly narrow beauty standards often leads to body dysmorphia and disordered eating habits and behaviours. The more celebrities engage in this behaviour, the more risky and unhealthy actions impressionable fans might engage in because they think it could alleviate their body image issues.

There’s a thin line between having a healthy diet and falling into disordered eating patterns. Due to the structure of beauty standards and social media, that line gets blurred as unhealthy dieting habits become normalized in the pursuit of conventional attractiveness.

It’s true that adapting a healthier lifestyle, like increasing the amount of exercise you do and having a better diet, can lead to weight loss, but there are hundreds of other things that factor into our appearance: genetics, environment, hormones, and even pure, random chance.

In a perfect world where everyone were able to achieve perfect nutrition and be perfectly athletic, there would still be a wide range of body types in the world.

The truth is, as they stand, diet culture and beauty standards do more harm than good. There are billion-dollar industries that rely on our insecurities to maintain their profit margins. They gain from eating disorders and body dysmorphia.

It’s important for us to uncouple our desire to be healthy from our desire to be skinny, so that we can truly pursue the healthiest and happiest life that we can achieve.


celebrities, Dieting culture, Healthy, Skinny, toxic, Unhealthy

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