Okay, I already regret what I’m about to say and I haven’t even said it yet but here it goes: Sometimes I really enjoy dressing a little…normcore. You know, that random trend in which people wear ordinary, vaguely retro, somewhat unflattering clothing that resembles the noxious mix of a mom and a tourist from 1994 (a mom tourist?). Yes, I am 100 percent here for the mom jeans and windbreaker look, okay?
So when Gurl editor, Jess, brought the normcore body to my attention, I immediately perked up and was ready to snark away. But after reading about it, I’m a little torn.
Style.com’s Maya Singer wrote a piece titled “Are We Ready For The Normcore Body?” In it she describes Sandra Bullock’s bikini body in the 1995 movie, The Net.
“Slender, for sure, but soft, and even a little fleshy here and there. In a word, she looked normal. And in an era where virtually every female celeb is expected to be able to bounce a quarter off any body part, ‘normal’ looked novel. It had real allure…A world of unvaried ultra-tonedness is boring…The moment has come, purely from the standpoint of aesthetics, for sensuality and softness, for bodies that don’t look over-exercised, but fully lived.”
This is what Singer described as the normcore body: no ridiculous toning, no weird juice cleanses, no butts or boobs that were developed in a factory – just a body with soft, fleshy bits that aren’t smothered with self-tanner. As a woman who isn’t skinny, and whose love handles and tummy are only partially concealed by my tall height, I’m not going to lie and act as if the idea skinny bodies no longer ruling as the most desired body type doesn’t appeal to me. I mean, we’re living in a culture that drives girls (and guys) to serious mental and eating disorders in the quest to look a certain way and gain acceptance. We’re living in a culture that demonizes larger bodies as walking health hazards in need of a gym membership and a kale salad. We’re living in a culture that tells people that your desirability largely relies on your dress size.
So yeah, the idea of my fleshy, fatty bits being socially acceptable without the need of Spanx is pretty damn appealing. But before I got too excited, I got a little more critical. Throughout the article, Singer emphasizes slimness. Sandra Bullock was slim but had a softness about her, Winona Ryder and Drew Barrymore were slim but didn’t look like they tried too hard to look like that, Gwyneth Paltrow was “skinny-flabby” and so on. Okay, so wait, instead of seeing slim, toned bodies as the ideal, we should hope to see slim, untoned bodies as the ideal? Is this only desirable if you don’t have an unacceptable amount of muffin top? What about fat girls who definitely aren’t toned either? How normcore are their bodies? If your tummy passes the point of elegantly rounded and your thighs aren’t just a little jiggly but straight up massive where do you fit in this spectrum?
While I absolutely empathize with a desire to allow different body types to be seen as beautiful, the “normcore body” still seems like a way of celebrating a slender form; just one that is effortlessly slim.
I understand that the concept of normcore is partially tongue in cheek, but the more sincere element of it focuses on making the ordinary look cool. The idea of us collectively looking at bodies that don’t fit society’s ideal and seeing them as an awesome source of pride is a pretty powerful idea that I’d love to get behind. Unfortunately, Singer’s idea of the a normcore body mostly perpetuates our appreciation of the same body types we’ve been appreciating for generations now, just without a butt made of steel.
Body types shouldn’t be trends in the first place, but if we want to promote positivity and self-love of not-so-skinny body types, we need to get a little more radical with it. Loving the fact that Jennifer Aniston had a tiny bit of arm fat in the ’90s isn’t all that inspirational.
What do you think of the idea of a “normcore body” trend? Are you still trying to figure out what normcore even means? Tell us in the comments!