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The Next Beauty Standard

The Next Beauty Standard

by Ana Wang

May 17, 2014

Body types go in and out of style, as fashion trends do. Today, it has become easier and therefore a more seemingly popular activity to criticize the fashion industry and media for its part in predominantly showcasing one singular vision of body perfection. Thing is, ideals change. During my relatively short lifetime, I’ve come to understand through what has been presented to me in the media that the prevalent desired body shape is thin (to be brief about it), but things are happening that make me feel like the next body type to come into vogue is healthy and strong, with irreverence toward size. More than ever, we’re seeing women and men stand up for a new “normal” (apparently it has something to do with butts, biologically associated with fertility and health), and on the other end, we’re seeing women and companies being bashed to a pulp for showcasing a perhaps now “passé” body ideal, one that would have been acceptable and idolized 10 years ago. Since when does it makes sense that a pop star who has what is otherwise considered a supermodel’s figure is chastised for it? Oh yeah, 2014.

It’s about the right timing, if we’re measuring: the 1980s and 1940s were waves where strength and athleticism in the female physical form were considered beautiful and desirable. Vogue just did this editorial that I quite like, showcasing models (this is Vogue after all) who do not fit the conventional model stereotype of today, except that they may just be onto something. Between that and the gorgeous Myla Dalbesio for Calvin Klein ad (let it be known that Calvin Klein the company never declared the model or ad as “plus size” – the media did), I think the pendulum is finally starting to shift and the people are finally getting what they’re asking for at this particular historical moment in time.

This just might be the next beauty standard. Or, maybe, as I hope in fashion, we’re closer to moving toward a standard where there is no standard, like fashion trends. Except based on historical cycles, that seems unlikely to be true. Then again, historically we’ve never experienced media in the way that it can be experienced today: defined by the people. (Also worth pointing out: historically, we’ve never been as big as we are today.)

Now, can we stop bashing body types, period, and move on with it?

Photo: Cass Bird, Vogue

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