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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Advice: How to survive the Ozempic Era

Maddie Barron

Opinion editors are not responsible for agreeing or disagreeing with their writers but rather elevate each individual’s specific voice.

Dear Maddie, 

It’s been really hard to accept my body as of late. I feel like every celebrity I looked up to for having a similar body type to me is now thirty pounds lighter and happier than ever. I don’t want to go on any fad diets or change how I look, but it’s getting harder and harder to feel like my body is acceptable. How do I make it through this current era of beauty standards?


Insecure Ivan


Dear Ivan, 

My screen time decreases with each passing day. Maybe it’s my frontal lobe developing, but I can’t continue scarfing down the same sludge that social media tries to shove down my gullet day after day. I’ve seen enough inadequately-caloried “girl dinners” to last a lifetime, and enough siren vs. doe eyes (borderline ethnocentrism) to want to gouge my own out. 

Like all beauty trends, they come in waves. As recently as the 1960s, newspapers frequently advertised a variety of supplements, the most popular being “Wate-On,” to gain weight, saying the “boyish” figures that were the standards of the 1920s were now definitively unattractive. 

One ad even read, “Good news for thousands of girls who have no sex appeal!” and “Don’t be skinny!” 

Times are always changing. Most of the Ozempified celebrities we see once profited off their curvaceous, BBL bodies. They have trainers, dieticians, and pharmaceutical bribe money to change their bodies at the speed of trends. 

Kylie Jenner recently came under fire for accusations of having her Brazilian butt lift reversed. The truth isn’t as exciting: BBLs require fat transfers, so if you lose weight (by going on Ozempic, for example), bye-bye BBL. 

But speculating about celebrities’ bodies is a worthless way to spend your time, because frankly, whatever beauty standards they set are unachievable. That’s why harping on about who is suddenly skinny and who secretly got surgery is ultimately fruitless. We need to ask the WHY behind these beauty trends. 

Women often willingly participate in the structures that oppress us to pretend it’s actually radical. It’s why we have girlboss feminism instead of dismantling oppressive capitalism. The implications of rapidly changing beauty standards on our bodies get more dangerous with each wave: from a diet of cigarettes and black coffee, to overseas surgeries, to black market diabetes medication. We are risking everything to achieve the current status-quo, even though we fully know it will change faster than we can. 

The solution: radical acceptance of your body. But everyone says that. What does it actually  mean? 

It means understanding that skincare brands, influencers with coupon codes, and flat-tummy teas don’t care about you “looking your best.” Once we understand that beauty standards are dictated by soulless corporations, it becomes more achievable to exist in your body in its natural state. 

Trends will always change and adapt, because consumer habits always change and adapt. This does not mean you have to give in to it. When you give explanation to trends, they feel less personal. Your body in its current state is not an issue, it’s just what’s being capitalized on. 

So where do these trends between sizes and shapes come from? I have a theory: it’s all about politics, baby!

Before the 1920s, women’s fashion revolved around exaggerated silhouettes. This mimics values of family and fertility of the time: a woman’s place was as a mother and caretaker. 

In an interview with CNN, Emma McClendon, associate curator of costume at the Fashion Institute of Technology, said there was a “very defined shift towards an increasingly young and increasingly kind of athletic and slender body” in the 20th century. 

The 19th Amendment granting white women the right to vote in the United States was ratified at the beginning of the decade, making way for a period valuing freedom and expression of the self, especially for women. Flappergirls represented the sexual liberation embraced by women of the time as they were more open to experimentation of the self. 

As exhibited in the newspaper clippings, beauty standards post-WWII changed to the Marilyn Monroe, hypersexualized pin-up style. Coinciding with the end of wartime rationing and rapidly rising birth rates, a woman with a belly full of food and a fetus was the American Dream. You can blame beauty standards during this time for making the baby boomers we’ve all come to know and love. 

Note: You’ll often find in certain trends where curvy bodies are promoted, but it’s a certain kind of curvy body. Bodies with curves absent of fat, only achievable through surgical enhancement and careful fat depositing. Bodies made of features taken from Black women. It’s important to note most beauty trends are entrenched in white supremacy. Sometimes, it takes the form of Eurocentrism, deciding white features are “purer” and “better to look at.” Other times, it’s stealing cultural motifs and putting them on a white body. Black culture is only acceptable through a white lens. You’ll find that not only are average and plus-sized bodies omitted from whatever “beautiful” is at the given time, but also Black and brown people. The beauty industry, whether it be skincare, makeup, fashion, or fitness, has been marketed exclusively towards white women. BIPOC are not even factors in the equation. It makes the most fiscal sense to take from them and sell it to white ladies, though! 

Then we cinched back in during the 1960s and 1970s. Birth control pills were approved by the FDA and models like Twiggy brought us back to the 1920s. Skinny, wide-eyed, and sexually liberated! 

Cindy Crawford and other supermodels of the 1980s kept it tight! Toned, athletic bodies contributed to the rise of fitness brands, which are now a multi-billion dollar industry. This coincided with alarm sounds about obesity in America, eventually leading to it being declared an epidemic in 1997. And what motivates shoppers more than fear? 

As we approached Y2K, end times were imminent, Clinton was president, and geopolitics were setting the stage for 9/11. Beauty trends turned dark: smoky eyes, grunge, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. À la heroin chic

Trends of thinness tend to prosper during times of particular political turmoil. That’s why we’re seeing the same trends from 1999/early aughts and 2014 back to haunt us. America is always a mess, but good God are things terrifying right now. 

But that’s not the point. The point is that, whether we like it or not, everything is political. Behind every TikTok beauty trend is decades worth of gender politics. This is terrible news to the folks who “don’t really like all the political stuff.” 

So maybe letting your body exist how it exists, so long as it’s doing well, physically, is the most radical approach to this onslaught of unachievable standards. We’re not going to look like that, so what’s the point of wasting all this time being pissy about it? 

We can turn our attention elsewhere,to more productive endeavors, like criticizing beauty standards or eating a lot of bread. God, I love bread.

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About the Contributor
Maddie Barron
Maddie Barron, Magazine Editor & Assistant Opinion Editor
Maddie Barron (she/her) is a junior WLP major with a minor in journalism. She serves as editor for the Beacon Magazine and assistant editor of the opinion section. Maddie is an It Girl, philanthropist, lover, gardener, and the Princess Diana of Goose Creek, SC.

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