Y2k fashion trends—with their emphasis on low-rise jeans; exposed thongs, and baby tees—were understood to celebrate a very specific body type, one generally found in teenaged girls. The trends helped normalize the sexualization of pubescent girls. Young women internalized this message, unknowingly embarking on a lifelong pursuit of youth and thinness, never stopping to critically assess the unrealistic body standards.
The media furthered that message by consistently pushing thin, white fashionistas as the standard of beauty. The same year Mary-Kate Olsen entered rehab for an unspecified eating disorder, she was on no less than four major magazine covers.
But if you were too thin, then it was a problem. U.K. tabloid The Daily Mirror printed the following about actress Keira Knightley in a 2009 article: “The naturally slender actress looked painfully thin in a purple strapless confection, her protruding collarbone more pronounced than ever.” This is the same outlet that two years earlier published an article urging “hot, thin women” to have a fat friend so they’d look better. Hypocritical? Yes. Effective? Unfortunately, also yes. There was a spike in eating disorder diagnoses between 2000 and 2009, with teenage girls making up the lion’s share of patients.