Heroin chic

So I grew up when heroin chic was THE fashion. For those of you who don’t know what it is, heroin chic is a popular fashion look that made one appear as, well, a heroin addict: extremely thin, pale, generally sick but also sophisticated looking. I think it is most associated with 90’s Kate Moss in Calvin Klein ads.

Picture young Johnny Depp and Kristen Stewart on a bad day, in an underground club, smoke of cigarettes, Kerouac novels, fashionable but misunderstood people, who look very tired but also “deep”… Got an image yet?

Looking back, I think that growing up right in the bloom of it all in the media, might have had a much greater impact on me than I realized.

First, and the most obvious: this is the kind of image I learnt is beautiful. I still feel that being able to see someone’s bones makes them very attractive; even though rationally in my head I of course know that beauty isn’t black and white. I understand how media, culture and society creates beauty standards; how they affect people; and how they don’t represent nearly everybody’s taste, but rather carve those tastes for the massive consumption. And you know, I’ve been actively reading, listening and talking about body positivity. Obviously not without a reason. If I close my eyes and absolutely honestly picture a perfect body for myself  it’s gonna be one of those.

I’m very glad that “the absolute honesty” thing, isn’t actually what I truly think as a person. It is something that I’ve been taught for as long as I can remember, so it became a reflex – something I think when I don’t think, so to say. What makes me ‘me’ is how I reason now despite all those things put by other people into me. What I truly believe is that there isn’t a wrong way to have a body. Thin, thick, and everything in between; birthmarks, stretchmarks, dimples, acne, freckles, hair or hairless, body-able or otherwise, etc.

In the back of my mind, however, whenever I take that extra piece of food, I get mad at myself. I used to throw my food back up, for a bit. And/or not eat at all for extended periods of time. And then ofc binging on food, or even worse – candy. And the circle continued. Ironically quite luckily, I guess I was already pretty depressed, which made me not have enough energy to punish myself any further.

So eventually I returned to the normal state of all women that I know – just silently (or sometimes verbally) hating my body.

I don’t blame fashion or any specific trend per se, however, its influence on a child’s (especially young woman’s) mind is undeniable. This is what I think is beautiful. This is what I find attractive. For no other reason than learned habit, I assume.

Second thing is that during that time all of those drugs-decadence-art-movies were also the next best thing. And I have a soft spot for them as well, obviously. And the thing is that they tend to romanticize, or even fetishize addiction. The beatnik-like charm in them seduces you, makes you feel that only those who’ve fallen can have the “real depth”. So to put it short, and quote Tyrian, now: ” I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards and broken things.“

And it’s not that there’s anything wrong or broken about people finding themselves in addiction to various substances. No judgement here. It’s just I'm guessing that heroin chic has very little to do with how things actually are. Actual addiction most likely is hardly any chic. It’s brutal, life wrecking and frowned upon. Unless, of course, it’s fake.

And that to me is very sad. To see that I myself am also drawn to those characters (and feed my fixer-upper tendencies). To see that society condemns real people but glorifies fiction, which have exactly the same story. I don’t get it.

Published by Kathy Mynta

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