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The return of 'Heroin Chic' and how it pertains to me

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APRIL 07, 2023

The recent phenomenon of the notion that “skinny is in,” seen in the abundance of celebrity posts about their weight loss transformations is nothing new. Kim Kardashian has been arguably paving the way for this trend to return, with countless influencers and celebrities following in her footsteps. While the trend of prioritizing one’s health is positive, there’s a fine line between glamorizing unrealistic body trends and promoting a balanced lifestyle, and it seems that the lines have been blurred recently. 

The term “Heroin Chic” is often heard in tandem with photographer Davide Sorrenti. Sorrenti had an insurmountable influence on ’90s fashion photography, often portraying models in positions that were uncomfortable to look at, awkward, imperfect and too close for comfort. In rejection of traditional precedents of glamorizing supermodels, “Heroin Chic” was a movement that sought to portray super-skinny, grunge-style models to blur the lines between youth culture and fashion. 

From today’s perspective, the resurgence of “Heroin Chic” is not correlated to the prevalence of youth culture at the forefront of fashion criticism, it is the return of the idealization of thinness in art, fashion shows and social media. While the past few years after the pandemic had highlighted the “gym rat” aesthetic on social media, the rapid turnaround in what the ideal body is harmful, for women especially. 

I’m tired of trying to keep up with constant trends of what the ideal body type is — a big butt, small waist, thigh gaps, defined hips, super skinny, hourglass and more. I’m tired of feeling like my body is taking up too much space or not enough. As someone who’s always deeply loved clothes, personal expression and fashion, I feel personally impacted. 

To continue to even try and keep up with these trends, to continue to establish one body type as “perfect,” while invalidating those who don’t have it, is absurd. When we think of our best friends, mothers and all of the wonderful women in our lives, we don’t value their appearance over who they are as a person. So why do we continue to allow this circulation of media of unattainable and ever-changing beauty standards to become the norm? 

The return and reimagined version of what was once known as “Heroin Chic” in the ’90s brings about a society in which a woman continues to have to look a certain way to garner respect or have her existence validated. I so profoundly hope that this is just a short-lived trend because the continual chase to be beautiful within society’s standards is not something I want to live for. Why can’t we all be celebrated?

Contact Aimee Han at 


APRIL 07, 2023