Skinny is back, and apparently so is body shaming

Skinny is back, and apparently so is body shaming

by Robyn Pullen
4 min

When Barbra Streisand told Melissa McCarthy “give him my regards did you take Ozempic,” she summed up the zeitgeist for 2024. Whilst poking fun at “ozempic face,” making jokes about the Brandy Melville doors, or pleading with Victoria Secret to bring back the “real angels” might all seem like harmless forms of internet humour, there’s a viscous undertone to the resurgence of aspirational skinniness online. Despite our efforts to escape the unattainable body standards of eras passed, skinny is back… and worse than ever.

Try explaining a sentence like “going to the sweat tour and you have to fit into the Brandy Melville door from Paris to get in,” to your elderly grandmother and she might not get the nuances but she’ll agree with the gist. As much as we’ve tried to move away from the fat-phobic attitudes of our elders by celebrating diverse body-types and encouraging healthy, clean-girl lifestyles, 2024 is reviving unwarranted comments on body-types in a way that would even have Boomers quaking. 

Comment under @melissamccarthy’s post by @barbrastreisand

It feels like people have become far more comfortable commenting on other people’s weight on social media, and (not to point the finger, but) we’re blaming Ozempic. The weight-loss injection originally distributed as a prescription for those with diabetes but quickly adopted by the wealthy when they realised they could purchase it pretty easily, has been opening up conversations about other people’s weight.

Now that the newly coined phrase “ozempic face” is being used as a moniker to basically call out anyone the internet believes has taken the drug, no one is safe from the Ozempic allegations. From TikTok comment sections to Reddit threads, discussions on social media readily scrutinising, commenting on, and calling out celebrities for losing weight are getting far more common. But people aren’t only calling out “skinny” people on social media…

Last December, Paloma Elsesser was declared 2023’s Model of the Year at the Fashion Awards and, within days of receiving the title, she’d deleted her Instagram. Why? Because of a barrage of fat-phobic comments telling her she didn’t deserve it. What should’ve been one of the happiest moments of her career was tainted by unwarranted comments from strangers who claimed things like “real models work so hard to have the bodies that they have. You get to just sit around eating cheeseburgers.”

@rumplemilkskin yall are so weird for this #bodyneutrality #bodypositivity #sabrinacarpenter #plussize #neurodivergent #gay #fyp ♬ original sound – Rumplemilkskin

And this attitude didn’t seem to be the mindset of just a few. One TikTok, which featured a clip of Ye alleging Elsesser’s modelling career was part of a conspiracy to “push obesity to us,” gained over 219,000 likes in a matter of days – that’s not a minority. It’s sad to say that the internet’s blatant fat-phobia isn’t limited to Paloma Elsesser’s comment section; in fact, it’s all up in Victoria Secret’s comments too.

Last week, Victoria Secret announced on Instagram that it had “read the comments and heard you,” and that it’d be bringing back the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Shows it became iconic for after a five year hiatus. Comments under Victoria Secret’s post were pretty shocking, with people pleading “please bring back the old models, i mean SKINNY models,” “please no plus size,” and asking “Back as in back back like wings and lingerie or back as in that terrible fashion show that was just aired on Amazon” (to which VS replied “back back”).

Comments from @victoriassecret’s Instagram

Whilst Barbra Streisand’s comment under Melissa McCarthy’s Instagram post might seem completely wild, it’s not all that different from the comments under Victoria Secret’s or Paloma Elsesser’s Instagrams – in fact, you could argue Barbra was nicer about it. It feels like the internet’s lost its ability to identify what’s out of pocket and what isn’t.

But as cosmetic surgeries and weight-loss drugs become more accessible and more commonplace, we expect people will forget even more that they’re actually commenting on a real person’s body. So, next time you’re weighing up whether to comment under someone’s post “ozempic?” take a second and touch some grass.

Featured image via @kimkardashian©

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