top of page

Little Girls in Little Skirts

Content warning: This article contains mention of eating disorders and drug use that may be triggering to some readers.

The effects of 90s/2000s body standards on parenting today

Body image has always been a big part of fashion from the mid 90’s ‘heroin chic’ era to the current Kardashian-inspired ‘thicc’ body standards. The early 90s started with a hunger for realism in the fashion world. The old, clean, overly glamourized models were out, and the new culturally reflective look was in.

The popularity of the ‘heroin chic’ look characterised by pale skin, sickly aura and protruding bone structure came from the rapid uptake of heroin use in the middle class as well as Heroin became popular in movies such as ‘Pulp Fiction’ and in the ever-growing grunge music scene. Kate Moss, the ‘heroin chic’ poster girl was accused of romanticising eating disorders and substance abuse. One of the most famous examples is her iconic phrase “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. This trend gained a lot of attention, many young teenage girls during this time developed body image issues from overexposure to this type of marketing, Calvin Klein was criticised heavily for an ad campaign that encouraged drug use among the youth featuring Kate Moss and other prominent models. Eating disorders skyrocketed and the use of drugs and other dangerous methods of achieving this perfect body type came into fashion.

This trend gained a lot of attention, to the point that President Bill Clinton made a public statement about the fashion industry’s blasé disregard for drug culture and its effects by saying “You do not need to glamorize addiction to sell clothes” and “The glorification of heroin is not creative, its destructive, it’s not beautiful, it’s ugly.”

Inevitably, the ‘heroin chic’ trend died out with the death of popular fashion photographer Davide Sorrenti in 1997. Despite pushback from both inside and outside the fashion world this obsession with the ultra-skinny didn’t disappear just yet. In the 2000s Victoria’s Secret models became famous for their childlike measurements, flat stomachs, and toned bodies. Still, the overexposure and scrutiny of Models' bodies led to a peak in eating disorders in Hollywood and then tricked down having an immense influence over teenage girls in normal society.

What effect does this have on parenting?

Most teen girls during that time have grown up, some of whom have challenged their views of body image and become more accepting, whereas some have refused to let go of the ideals of the 2000s and still possess the same mindset today. This type is the most dangerous, as many of these women now have children. They are mothers to little girls who are influenced by their every move which includes restrictive eating habits.

A common phrase that has been coined by social media users recently called the “almond mom” and the similarly named hashtag has reached nearly a billion views on TikTok. This refers to mothers who perpetuate ideals that link with eating disorders and bad body image, mothers who regurgitate the grotesque ideas that were fed to them into their youth and project onto their daughters now. A famous example is Yolanda Hadid, mother of the famous supermodels Gigi and Bella Hadid, who was criticised for pushing disordered eating on her children such as advising her 17-year-old daughter to “chew on a couple of almonds” when she was feeling sick.

These types of mothers have a significant effect on their young daughters. From youth, these girls develop dangerous eating disorders such as anorexia, experiencing fatphobia and body dysmorphia. These body image issues are transformed into adulthood; Young girls engage in diets and overwork themselves to fit into tight skirts and dresses. The frequency of eating disorders has almost doubled in the last two decades and the rise of social media amplifies their intensity. A lot of mothers see their child’s body shape as a reflection of their parenting and the shame fuels further not only their restrictive behaviour but also influences the young daughters who mimic this behaviour. In the future, it is essential as a community to deconstruct these narratives and protect our little girls from the dangers of eating disorders.


bottom of page