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Y2K and low-rise jeans: are we still stuck in a 'skinny aesthetic' mindset?

By Beatrice Fitzmaurice, Third Year, English

The Croft Magazine // Low-waisted trousers became popular during the 90's and 2000's, however so did an unhealthy approach to eating and body-image, commonly referred to as the time of 'heroine-chic'. On the flip side, today this fashion trend has been reintroduced with a twist - clothes are being made to fit around people, rather than people being made to fit into clothes.

High-waisted tight skinny jeans were indispensable throughout my teenage years. Now, from preppy mom jeans and cargo pants to the staple 70s flares have since made it into my wardrobe and we’ve progressed to these but in a low rise, belly revealing style that comes with the latest Y2K aesthetic. Embodied through this style, even joggers have become a flirty going out piece rather than a slouchy stay at home look with the revival of juicy couture velour track pants.

While these looks are certainly embraced by key celebrity influencers such as the likes of Bella Hadid, Hailey Bieber and Dua Lipa, tiktokers were perhaps the main influencers of this trend. They reintroduced these looks back into their wardrobes through reels filmed in their bedrooms, where they would transition from a Britney-inspired outfit to Paris Hilton to Lindsay Lohan in a matter of seconds.

Britney Spears sporting low-rise outfits in '... Baby One More Time'

“The 2000’s were an era of time where fashion was fun, flirty and experimental,” says Zara Walsh, student at University of Bristol. “I feel like the majority of the 2010’s fashion revolved around minimalist trends and sports logos and was quite conservative. Y2K style, in particular low-rise trends is the result of wanting fashion to feel fun again and reclaim femininity which I think was slightly demonised in the previous decade as being bimboish.”

Could we then see this coquettish style not only as female empowerment but also another part of ‘revenge pandemic dressing’? Losing so many months of not being able to go out, we’ve taken any opportunity to get out of sweats (excluding anything juicy couture and diamante embellished) and rebel through our clothing. One thing the pandemic may have taught us is that life is too short to worry about conforming to body standards typically affiliated with a low-rise cut. Perhaps the fact they fit around our bodies instead of forcing us to ‘suck-in’ is more align with today’s protocols than we think. As Zara recaps, “…it’s helped me to accept my body rather than trying to hide it.”

“The 2000’s were an era of time where fashion was fun, flirty and experimental,”

Although some saw it more as a trend of body image as the noughties era paired them with the smallest crop-top possible – low-rise trousers weren’t the fashion, a flat stomach was. But Y2K style has arguably been embraced by Gen-Zs in a new way to encompass all body standards with different pieces from the era being altered in a style to suit certain body types. Particularly as it is less so the runway models influencing this aesthetic but social media influencers, meaning we are storming through the trends of the decade quicker than ever. But does this then mean body-type has less sway on fashion nowadays?

Not everyone is so sure. While being forced online perhaps generated a feed of indoor fashionistas, releasing this fresh perspective on a nostalgic style, it arguably also orchestrated a feed of ‘healthy home-cooking’ and ‘at home ab workout challenges’. Starting off as innocent hobbies to create ‘healthy habits’, after being stuck inside for so long, much of this became unhealthy obsession. Perhaps it is a shame then that this trend occurred in conjunction with this new skinny aesthetic. Lois, student at Newcastle University explains, “I saw the other day ‘skinny’ is back which, as someone who has gone from underweight to a size 12, it’s a bit difficult trying to love your new body when ‘thicc’ is not seen as attractive anymore by society.”

It is interesting then that social media influencers are the ones shaping the trends as a greater variety of sizes are showcased in comparison to what the runways of the 2000s allowed. Yet with the likes of photoshop, how realistic can this platform really be? Sure, we are encouraged to have hips and a bigger bum but how realistic is it to also have a flat-stomach and no stretchmarks with that. While iconic celebrities such as Lizzo, who sports low-rise flares and simplistic white crop-top trend, advocate body acceptance in a realistic way, Jessica Kraft, student at University of Leeds challenges this, suggesting “…in terms of celebrities, people seem to be over the flat stomach ideal but when it comes to real and normal girls, I think there is still the idea that being skinny and thin is better.” Even though this new generation is more progressive in terms of body-image than the millennials, it was the millennials, conditioned by 2000s diet culture, that we watched sport this style on TV growing up. So how much can we really be rid of the implicit bias of this trend?

Ultimately, I urge everyone not to jump on the bandwagon of New Year’s fad diet trends and instead encourage the continual growth of fashion trends that we can embrace our bodies’ diversities through.

Featured image: instagram @britneyscharm

What's your opinion on the low-rise trend? Should it be making a comeback or left firmly behind along with the likes of leggings with skirts and ripped jeans?