In her latest newsletter, Anne Helen Petersen, author of celebrity thinkpieces who's now transitioned into workplace writing, somewhat goes back to her roots and talks about the body standards that millennials faced during their youth.
The entry includes a trigger warning because it discusses body image, diet culture and disordered eating.
She talks about one particular issue of Seventeen Magazine that includes a non-model on the cover. Reader letters included some who praised it and some who said that she should have a better figure, which sent the contradictory message that her body was both "normal" ("thus desirable/obtainable") and also undesirable.
-She talks about how influential teen magazines like Seveteen, YM and Teen were, at least to white teens. These magazines included articles about things the reader should be worried about (e.g. cellulite), while simultaneously including articles about needing to let go of perfection.
-Mentions phrases that became engrained in many millennials' and younger gen-Xers' minds, like:
celebrity as a 'calorie negative food; the discourse around Britney's stomach; the phrases "muffin top" and "thigh gap"; how Kate Winslet was regarded as "chubby" andd Alicia Silverstone was dubbed "Fatgirl"; Bridget Jones' supposedly "undesirable" body; the Rachel Zoe aesthetic; the "Fat Monica" plotline on "Friends," etc. etc.
Key points behind the cut.
-Says that when millennial women shudder at the possible return of low-rise jeans, it's "not being old, or boring, or basic ... It was about the jeans on our bodies. We are attempting to reject a cultural moment that made so many of us feel undesirable, incomplete, and alienated from whatever fragile confidence we’d managed to accumulate."
-She asks, "Twenty years from now, will Gen-Zers be excavating their own relationship to TikTok’s beauty norms and midriff fetishization, to Kendall and Kylie Jenner, to Peloton and pandemic-induced eating habits, to the faux empowerment of the “Build a B*tch” video and their moms’ and grandmothers’ fitness and “wellness” routines?"
-Says we could have those conversations now. Points to another author who says "we haven't arrived anywhere." Peterson said "the material conditions of being a woman have not been altered in any dramatic way, and seem to be getting worse, for everyone."
Full entry at the source.