In this op-ed for the series Summer Bodies, Teen Vogue art director Emily Zirimis argues that the Y2K style trend isn’t as inherently fatphobic as some say it is.
I remember walking into the Juicy Couture outlet store like it was yesterday – a shiny, pink embodiment of the phrase “that’s hot.” It somehow felt inspiring and depressing all at the same time. As a then-awkward preteen with lumps and bumps in all of the “wrong” places, this store was everything that I wanted to be, but wasn’t.
Juicy Couture wasn’t an outlier. The fashion trends of the early aughts — when low-rise denim and tight-fitting velour pants with words like sexy splayed across the back were the cool thing to wear — were often exclusive of teens with larger bodies. Whether the clothes didn’t come in our sizes, or magazines offered tips on how to lose weight to better fit the trends of the day, young people like me were often othered. Popular clothing at the time felt not just ill fitting, but like a statement on whether or not we belonged.
As Y2K style makes a comeback, many have decried the trends as fatphobic — low rise jeans and crop tops, some say, aren’t inclusive of fat bodies. Fatphobia was, certainly, part of the trend in the early 2000s. It was hard to watch a show, read a magazine, or just exist in the world without seeing some commentary on what kind of body was good, and that seemed reinforced by the clothes that were popular at the time.
But acknowledging that the origins of a fashion trend are inherently and historically fatphobic should not necessarily translate to never participating in them, especially if you want to. To me it means that we should participate in them as a small act of reclamation.