Although Kim Kardashian and other celebrities show the “slim-thick” look online, a study by Toronto’s York University has found that such imagery can cause body dissatisfaction among young women.
The study actually named the Kardashian mogul and her sister Kylie Jenner as influencers who contribute to the discontent women feel about their bodies because of their online content.
The “slim-thick” body ideal — defined by the researchers as “a curvier or more full-body type, characterized by a small waist and flat stomach but large butt, breasts and thighs” — has become more idolized in mainstream media in recent years.
“The hashtags #thick, #thicc and #slimthick have 6.2 million, 3.4 million, and 1 million posts on Instagram respectively, and the hashtag #slimthicc has 134 million tags on TikTok,” the researchers said of 2021 social media trends.
While a thin, Kate Moss-esque frame might have been ideal in years prior, that trend is out and the Kim K’s of the world are in.
But those curves aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
The family of influencers is regularly outed for egregious photoshop fails, including this week when Kim’s leg fell victim to some heavy-handed editing, prompting its removal from her Instagram.
It’s become routine to digitally alter photos, the York University study said, “thus making the thin ideal even thinner and less attainable for the average woman.”
A survey of 402 women, ages 18 to 25, who are proven to be the heaviest Instagram users prompted researchers Sarah McComb and Jennifer Mills to study the correlation between the emerging body ideal and physical satisfaction.
The pool of women viewed 13 photos of influencers with less than 60,000 followers with different body types characterized as slim-thick, fit and thin.
Contrary to the thin imagery that once reigned in media, the slim-thick body ideal actually caused “more weight and appearance dissatisfaction” than the thinner imagery, the study found.
According to the study, appearance perfectionism — like attempting to unhealthily attain the body of a Kardashian — can cause disordered eating, unhealthy weight-control behaviors, low self-esteem and social anxiety.
So, when social media feeds are drowning in “slim-thick” body worship and the pressure to fit their curvy mold is bearing down, it could be beneficial to hit “unfollow,” according to Zazon. Instead, she advised her fans to “follow people and surround yourself with those that inspire you and make you feel your most confident self.”
While body acceptance and size diversity are pushed more so than ever before, the study actually found that curvy imagery “is not a positive alternative” to the thinness of the past. In fact, it could be considered more dangerous to promote, especially for women who don’t desire to be extremely thin and would rather have curves, authors wrote.
“The slim-thick ideal was most harmful to women’s appearance, weight and overall body satisfaction,” the researchers concluded. “[It] may still represent an ideal of beauty that women find threatening and personally unattainable.”