‘Is It Fashion or is She Just Skinny’

‘Is It Fashion or is She Just Skinny’

With models like Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid at the forefront of modern style and popular culture, curvaceous bodies and ‘bbl’s’ are out and ‘skinny’ is back in style. But a controversial new Tik-Tok trend is challenging our obsession with thinness, and showing that fashion should be for everybody.

It’s official; in 2023, thin is in. The late 2010’s brought about the body positivity movement, with stars like Lizzo, Rihanna, Ashley Graham, Megan Thee Stallion, and Tess Holliday embracing their curves and putting their bodies on full display. However, the rise of 2000s nostalgia among Gen Z has initiated a resurgence in the desire for small bodies. While many of these celebrities  continue to be a keystone of modern popular culture, the public’s gaze has turned predominantly to models whose bodies, particularly their thinness, are at the forefront of their brand. We are seeing a revival of  “the supermodel” which rose to prominence and eventually a god-like status in the 90s and early 2000s, including household names like Kate Moss, Jodie Kidd, and Naomi Campbell. In 2022,  there is a new generation including Hailey Bieber, Bella Hadid, and Kendall Jenner, to name a few.

The modeling and fashion industries have become increasingly intertwined, slowly morphing into one enterprise; the models aren’t just wearing the trends, they’re making the trends. These women are highlighted as major contributors to modern style, and, as a result, today’s fashion caters exclusively to bodies that are unrealistic to achieve or maintain for the average person; what’s a girl to do when “skinny” is a part of the outfit? This expands the notion that styles, no matter how popular, are not “for” everyone. Anyone can wear clothes, but only the thin can be beautiful. “The whole crop top trend was hard for me in the beginning as a bigger girl…While wearing figure hugging clothes from different trends, I have had some comments from people in public which haven’t been so nice – I think this is where the difference lies,” says @Hanniexalicexx, a plus-size student fashion designer and content creator with a 12,494.6  following across Tik-Tok and Instagram. So why have we regressed despite the efforts of body positivity? Stars like Lizzo, while popular, are rarely regarded as “fashion icons,” whereas someone like Emily Ratajakowski could seemingly wear a trash bag and still receive praise for her sense of style; there is a lack of representation as well as an unjust disparity between how we perceive those who are thin and those of a different shape or size.

However, in concurrence with these trends, a contradictory movement has emerged from the depths of Tik-Tok: ‘Is It Fashion or is She Skinny?’ The growing trend began as a series from video creator, @victoriaparis, in which she critiques the praise she’s received for her outfits, noting that she only “appears” to be stylish because she’s thin and conventionally attractive, from there, numerous creators of various backgrounds, sizes, and body types across Tik-Tok have since made their own videos, Including Hannie Alice 

In her series, Alice recreates outfits worn by big-time supermodels and “fashion Icons” on a plus-size body, “To me the ‘is it a fit or is she skinny’ has always been a trend where larger or curvier women try on outfits either from Pinterest photos or outfits that models have worn – in order to see if it looks good on themselves .”

Tyra Barnes, a Potomac Falls Junior and model for DC International Models, says “fat-phobia” is present and an ongoing issue in the modeling industry, no matter what size you are, “a lot of designers won’t work with people that have certain features because it makes the clothes look ‘ugly’ or something like that. I don’t know. They have this set person or body type that they want in their clothing. They don’t think about anyone else with different body types.”

Barnes went on to say that, while she believes the lack of diversity and body-positivity in the industry is problematic, this new Tik-Tok trend is not the solution, “I definitely feel like it’s body shaming. All types of people can get body shamed. It’s just different body shaming. One is just not as seen. As much as body shaming and stuff like that, because oh, they have the perfect body, but they’re shaming them for being too skinny or something like that…If you talk about someone’s body, it’s body shaming, if you will talk down someone’s body shaming.”

Alice said, “I can understand how people may think that the trend is a form of body shaming and I myself did deal with a lot of backlash due to this. On my end, this was never my intention – my intention is to promote body positivity.” However, she asserts that the trend was created with the intentions for a positive impact, “The message that I want to convey in my videos is that – no matter what size you are, you can wear these clothes without feeling ashamed. I want to promote body positivity for all sizes, not just bigger people. After being bullied about my looks and weight from a very young age, it has taken me until the age of 21 to realize what self love can do – this is what I want to be known for!” 

Alice began making videos to encourage others to explore fashion and practice self-acceptance, “ I hope that with my videos I can make a difference. Even if that’s just for one person to gain confidence to try new styles, go out in them and learn how to express themselves, this would still be amazing to me. I also want my followers to feel they have a safe place to come back to if they’re not having a good day or not feeling too good about themselves. Overall, I want to teach people what I wish I knew a few years back and make a personal difference that way!”

There is hope that the  trend, despite its seemingly mixed reviews, will not only impact the Tik-Tok platform, but the fashion industry as a whole. “For me this is an issue in the fashion industry itself – being a student fashion designer I can see a lot of issues in clothing sizes and availability to plus sized people. This is obviously something that needs to change which is why I think this trend is so prominent,” said Alice.

In addition to the fashion world, Barnes hopes there will be reformations to the modeling industry, “They say they are inclusive, but they’re not, they’re not doing enough…It’s honestly pointless, so pointless, like, love everyone’s body, we’re all different in all ways and stuff like that.”

Most of all, these videos are initiating important commentary and  expanding nuanced discussions about body-image and “fat-Phobia” in the public sphere.