The 2010’s “Twee style” is making a comeback. We can’t let fatphobia return with it.

By Vivi Smilgius, Editor-in-Chief

In today’s environment of social media and fast fashion, trends come and go faster than ever. But fashion isn’t the only thing that can be trendy— body types, societal attitudes, and morals all fall into line on an ever-growing list of what’s in style and what isn’t.

Recent reboots in the fashion world include 2000s footwear— think Uggs and Moon Boots— as well as low-waisted ‘90s-style jeans, the big hair of the ‘80s, and the classic ‘70s bell-bottoms. These recycled trends also decide which body types are “in”— the ‘90s and 2000s favor the ultra-skinny, while the ‘70s and ‘80s cater to a curvier physique.

Twee style,” a camp-prep hybrid popularized around 2010, is one of the many trends making a comeback. This distinct style includes shorts with tights, fit-and-flare dresses, ballet flats, cardigans and collared shirts under everything. (Think Zooey Deschanel— or any of the characters she’s played, like Jess from New Girl.) Vogue went as far as calling twee the put-together sister of the infamous grungy Tumblr girl of 2014— a phrase that left some readers gagging. 

Twee became especially popular during an era of social media that equated thinness with beauty. Before it was sold to Verizon in 2017, Tumblr was a hub for a range of trends, including fashion to humor. Much of the app’s popular outfits sought-after styles were centered around a degree of beauty built on unhealthy and unattainable standards. Tumblr alone played a large role in the popularization and fetishization of extreme skinniness, often to the point of disordered eating. 

Since the app’s “downfall,” former users have shared how being chronically online when being thin was so favorable affected them, with many admitting to having eating disorders or feeling extreme negativity about their weight. 

Now, a new wave of social media is popularizing the same styles that negatively affected users years ago. Some of those experiencing the second wave of twee were around for the first wave— and this time, we can’t let a fashion trend impact our self-image and determine our self-worth.

It’s no secret that different clothing styles flatter different bodies. For centuries, people have used clothes to accentuate— or hide— parts of themselves. There’s no shame in wearing what looks best on you, or what makes you feel most confident. But the clothes that make you feel and look your best aren’t always the ones that become popular.

Society tends to decide what’s fashionable and what isn’t based on the model rather than the outfit. Take celebrities like Kendall Jenner or Anya Taylor-Joy, for example. Outfits that pop culture outlets and fan accounts call “effortlessly chic” or “model off-duty” might be redefined as sloppy or lazy if worn by a larger person.

Plenty of people have pointed this out, too. Several series on TikTok and YouTube beg the question, “is it a fit or is she just skinny?” In these videos, people who wear larger sizes replicate outfits deemed fashionable when worn by the ultra-skinny. Sometimes, the outfits pass the test, but more often than not, they fail.

Today’s society has begun scraping the tip of the iceberg of body positivity and fatphobia, with campaigns like body neutrality trending on social media and popping up in stores and online. But there’s a whole lot of progress left to be made, and rebooting trends that fit ultra-thin bodies best is not healthy or helpful.

A 2018 study by Racked found that 68 percent of American women wear a size 14 or above and weigh almost 170 pounds on average. This means that well over half of women in the U.S. don’t meet the beauty standards popularized in the ‘90s, 2000s, and 2010s. The study also sheds light on how a new cycle of trends, and twee in particular, could be harmful to the body positivity movement.

This generation of social media users is the youngest and most impressionable, but we also have more experience than any preceding generation. While skinniness is still valued in society (it’s been rebranded as fitness, self-care, and diet culture), there’s another side of social media dedicated to educating users on the importance of prioritizing mental health.

It is this generation’s responsibility to change the narrative written by those before it— the narrative that tells us we are meant to fit clothes and not the other way around. It starts not just with a rejection of trends, but with an acceptance of body types and an appreciation for confidence and fashion on an objective scale.