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The Fightback against today’s “Heroin Chic” trend

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Within the last few weeks, the media coined term “Heroin Chic” has re-entered mainstream lexicon with terrifying rapidity. However, it is worth remembering that we were able to cull the efforts of those who endorsed dangerous products and commodified unhealthy physiques last time round; we just need to do it again, only learn from twenty-years ago and get there quicker, before any damage sets in.

For those unfamiliar, when you google the 90s term “Heroin Chic”, search the term on google and it produces an array of results all seemingly connoting negativity: ‘extremely thin physique’, ‘dark undereye circles’, ‘dishevelled hair’, ‘emaciated features’… What’s more, as search results prove, there is a definitive awareness of the trend’s controversy, it’s dangerous, life-altering, nature. So how then has this trend managed to re-emerge? Frankly, it stuns me.

The resurfacing of this monster was escalated in a tweet published last week by the New York Post. Temporarily ignoring celebrity statuses, it depicts five women’s bodies and is captioned “Bye bye booty: Heroin chic is back.”. The post implies women’s body shapes are trends and that it is appropriate to shame women on account of their body (an issue I sought to denounce in my previous article).

Thankfully, the trend, and this post in particular, has been pounced on and condemned by multiple social figures. One such champion using her voice to stoke a fightback is that of Jameela Jamil. A follower of her already I can confidently and wholeheartedly encourage anyone who does not follow her to go now and follow her. She is an activist working in so many areas but, with personal experience of the dangers of harmful diet-culture and an understanding beyond empty threats, she is particularly intent on silencing this kind of rhetoric.

As is in her nature, she has gone beyond social media and written a full essay on the “Heroic Chic” revival. It has been published on papermag.com and I will leave the direct link at the end of this article. Do not be uncertain that Jamil speaks truthfully and without pretence or hesitancy. She is angry and she does not want to see others suffer.

Jamil asserts that the trend is founded on controlling women, controlling us mentally and physically and applauding those who openly ‘starve themselves into submission’. This aligns with my major bug around the discourse of trends, particularly women’s trends and bodily trends. There seems to exist a fear within media offices wherein if any one woman is adorned for too long, she will become too empowered, divine almost, and so too little still hanging on to the puppet strings of the social propaganda tabloid publications produce. Look at that New York Post tweet. What does it say? Kim K you’ve had your time of it. Our once flowing revenues, profitable by pushing your image are drying up and we’re greedy and we’re lazy so let’s say ‘Heroin chic is back’ and shake things up a little.

Every time adverse discourse is promoted around factors no person can, or should, change a bit more gets chipped away and we are weakened each time. No person should be dependent on the words of outlets that seek only to fill their own pockets off others, however, much they want you on their brainwashing drip feed.

I won’t say too much more as I don’t wish to recycle Jamil’s words. Instead, I simply urge you to go straight to the source for which you can find the link below. Please start and join the fightback now and not down the line when this social cancer has grown in the space of our silence.



Nottingham '23

Final year English undergraduate student, University of Nottingham