The Skinny Jean Panic is Rooted in Toxic Body Shaming

Lea O
7 min readFeb 19, 2021

Millennials fear a return to the ultra-low rise.

Photo by Joeyy Lee on Unsplash

Earlier this week I wrote a humor piece about skinny jeans getting canceled by Gen Zer’s. I don’t write humor often but this one sort of flowed out. I suppose that’s what happens when you become internet irrelevant.

I stand by every word, too. This is not a piece in defense of skinny jeans or anything. It’s one to say that if you’re confused by the panic, there’s a deeper explanation here. Yeah sure, it sucks to admit that we are, ahh — um, I am, getting older and now watching my generation deteriorate one trend at a time. But that’s not the real reason for the panic here.

Memory Lane

Music videos were aired constantly on channels now reserved for terrible reality TV shows. I sneaked Eminem CDs past my parents who believed it was M&M. I exploited the hell out of that assumption. I am sort of sandwiched in the middle of the millennial years. It’s a strange place to be and have been — situated before the internet, through dial-up, those monstrosities of black bags known as car phones, then flip phones, MySpace, and later Facebook.

I thought I was Posh Spice and dreamed of somehow lucking into a career that was Carrie Bradshaw 2.0 (a dream I haven’t given up on yet, clearly). I remember when the world was turning into a pumpkin at midnight on 12/31/2000. Britney Spears coined the word ‘Toxic’ and Chris Crocker catapulted to fame by defending her on the internet.

I shopped at Gadzooks and longingly thumbed through Delia’s catalog. Delia’s ruled teenagers like the JCPenney toy catalog ruled children at Christmas time. I had a pair of dark wash denim jeans that tied together instead of buttoned and had fake leather laces up the outside hem of both legs. I never got into the Von Dutch and trucker hats thing but they were around. I was more of an Etnies kind of girl.

I was a teenager when Christina Aguilera debuted with “Genie”. Shortly after, she dropped ‘Dirrty’. It was…