No discussion about Black women’s body image issues in the early 2000s would be complete without discussing the video vixen (as New Yorker writer Doreen St. Félix pointed out). “Urban” media, including magazines like King and XXL, as well as music videos and movies geared toward Black audiences, peddled a specific look. Women had narrow waists and flat stomachs, but large butts, hips, and thighs.
Much like their white counterparts, urban fashion brands reinforced this body standard. Popular brands like Baby Phat, Sean John, Rocawear, and the aptly named Apple Bottoms used the same advertising models. Popular music videos of the artists behind these brands Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Jay-Z, and Nelly had women with the aforementioned look ostensibly outfitted in their brands. Those of us who were teenaged girls then wanted the clothing and the bodies to go along with it.
One Twitter user summarized it perfectly, admitting to “using white girl ED habits” to achieve the optimal video vixen body. Just because women of color’s impossible standards weren’t model thin and blonde, it doesn’t mean we don’t also have baggage.
I think because Gen Z has grown up in this environment of body positivity, it’s different