I’ll Never be Skinny Enough – And Neither Will You

By Tamara Ramadan

Cover picture: snapshot taken from Beyonce’s “pretty hurts” music video

Since its conception, the world of entertainment has been bewildered by the concept beauty. Singers, actors, and models have been known to follow peculiar — often torturous — weight-loss methods, from restriction to starvation. Consequently, while beauty trends shifted and changed over the years, they swirled and fluttered around one eternal and never-changing trait: “Thinness”.

            “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”, Kate Moss famously said in a 2009 interview with Women’s Wear Daily. Since then, the quote has been plastered on a plethora of online blogs dedicated to eating disorders, notably on sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. 

            Between 2014 and 2015, a new contender entered the world of Western celebrity and fashion trends. The Brazilian Butt Lift, often referred to as the BBL, swept through Beverly hills and up toward the Hollywood sign, dazzling everyone in its path. Many attribute the trend’s beginnings to the Kardashian family, whilst others underscore the Kardashian’s clear appropriation of African American culture. 

            Ultimately, the BBL never became the new skinny. The two simply coexisted, in a single female form. Celebrities sauntered down red carpets, strutted down runways, and appeared in viral videos and social media posts, their bodies underweight, their breasts, thighs, and buttocks greatly enlarged. It was, and is, no longer acceptable to simply starve. Women must now go under the knife to achieve unachievable standards of beauty. 

            Across the world, standards of beauty vary, but they remain equally restrictive and unattainable. In an Interview for The Vou, beauty writer Cho Keng stated “Korean beauty standards push for an overall innocent look: small face, big eyes, slim body, to recreate that youthful look”

            The K-pop industry has taken the world by storm, with bands like Blackpink, BTS, and Red Velvet raking in millions of views. The “language barrier” that once existed in the music industry is slowly fading away. This phenomenon was initiated by South American and Spanish singers with songs like “Despacito” and “Bailando”. However, it was only further fortified by Korean solo singers like PSY and the members of the aforementioned band, BTS. 

            Although the K-pop industry is best known for its extravagant spectacles and immensely talented performers, what it is also, infamously, known for are the strict rules and regulations that emergent Korean artists must abide by. Many ex-trainees reported being weighed on a daily basis and forbidden from eating anything besides their allotted meals, which often were not enough to keep their adolescent bodies fed, and energized. 

            Medically, the lowest possible healthy BMI equals 18.5; however, the average BMI for female K-pop idols ranges between 17 and 18, with many reaching a low of 15. This puts singers at risk of countless illnesses and chronic conditions, including irregular periods, and hair loss. 

            A single look at “pro-ana” social media profiles, users that encourage and glorify disordered eating clearly shows the effect the K-pop industry has had on those who have poor body image. One user states: “I am the same weight as Jennie from Blackpink. We both have a BMI of 18.8 but [she] looks weaker than me. […] She’s prettier than me and I’m an ugly girl, no matter how thin I am.” 

            Ultimately, Hollywood and K-pop both suffer from an obsession with the “perfect female form”. Although the two have different aesthetic standards, their notion of beauty forces celebrities, young fans, and consumers of any form of media, to feel profoundly inadequate with their appearance. 

            For millennia, women have been forced to torment themselves in order to be worthy of societal praise and romantic love. From crushed beetles rubbed upon eyelids, to hot sugar ripping hairs out of their follicles, there is nothing that has not been done in pursuit of perfection. 

            Only yesterday was the West obsessed with the slim figure of the 2000s. Overnight, women who were plastered on the covers of Vogue and Cosmopolitan were suddenly “sickly” and “unattractive”, replaced by the plump silhouettes of curvier models. The female form is replaceable and ephemeral, it changes with the seasons. There is no point in tolerating the intolerable, by the time women reach perfection, its meaning would already have changed. I’ll never be skinny enough, and neither will you, so why bother? 

Edited by Zeina Abdel Latif
Copy edited by Daniella Razzouk

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