While the media’s depiction of white women during this time was problematic, we cannot ignore how women of color were treated: We were either fat or nonexistent.
It’s almost unbelievable now, but in 2005’s Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,America Ferrera was the fat friend. Ferrera, who is Honduran, looked like so many Black and Latinx girls in my life. Ditto for America’s Next Top Model alum Toccara Jones, who was singled out as a plus-sized model. Even Beyoncé (who coined the term bootylicious in 2002) couldn’t escape it; a 2009 NBC.com story headline reads, “Beyoncé’s Rep: She Is Not Fat,” and she wasn’t.
There’s a lot to be said about the lack of discourse around our Y2K experiences with body image. This is an extension of the idea that women of color don’t have these issues. Some academic studies prevalent at the time stated that Black girls and women were more satisfied with their bodies than their white counterparts.
The predominantly white media took that to mean that these issues didn’t exist for us. But they did, and early-2000s Black media was just as problematic. Look at Moesha; after the iconic show was picked up by Netflix last year, viewers were shocked by blatant fatphobia, mostly thrown at Moesha’s friend Kim Parker, played by actress Countess Vaughn.