Heroin Chic: The Dangers of Romanticizing Drugs

Pinterest is a world for escaping. It is an app that is predominantly used by women, who make boards for outfit inspiration, dream lives and wedding ideas. But there’s a darker side to Pinterest inspiration. The side that glamorizes looking at the camera with sad eyes, smudged with heavy dark eyeliner. Thin woman smoking a cigarette in a striking silk dress with a pouty lip. These photos are tagged with the words: heroin chic. 

These photos are on young girls’ inspiration, aesthetic and outfit inspo boards. Thus beginning the association between the “perfectly thin body” and drugs. 

The term “heroin chic” originated and became popularized in the 1990s. Representing the gaunt, pale, and thin high fashion model. But why is the term making a comeback?

Recently, celebrities have been using Ozempic, a diabetes drug that enables weight loss. This has caused many of our favorite celebrities to lose a ton of weight in only a matter of weeks. Leaving us to wonder, how can we do that? 

While this is dangerous for people’s health and body image, it has also affected people with diabetes who use the drug. With there being an intense supply shortage problem, the wealthy are able to buy Ozempic. Leaving those with diabetes unable to access their lifesaving medication. The need to be thin in media has always been taken too far, but celebrities need to consider the effects they have on American culture. Whether they want to accept it or not. 

Is it because of the drug and celebrities losing weight that’s making terms like “heroin chic” and “cocaine skinny” popularized again? Maybe it goes beyond the words, but the ideas and pictures are attached. 

Photo from Pinterest

When we use these words, we have an image that comes to our minds. The enticing grungy Pinterest princess who smokes a cigarette in a thin tank top. The pictures that come to mind are also reminiscent of the Lana Del Rey Tumblr era. The birth of the 2010 sad girl. The singer became popular for her soft voice, singing about violence and self-harm. Essentially glamorized pain. 

We see this again, in the recent Netflix short series, “The Queens Gambit”. A show about a chess prodigy, Beth, who slowly loses herself by trying to win. However, her downfall isn’t ugly or painful to watch if anything it’s hard to look away. In most scenes Beth’s downfall is her dancing in her underwear, smudged black eyeliner, drinking a bottle of alcohol and sneaking away to take pills. The show films these scenes that make you want to keep watching because of how beautiful her pain looks. 

Photo from backstage.com

A singular phrase comes to mind: the “male gaze.” A term that simply is the perspective of women from a man’s point of view through art, is commonly used in film and literature. Men tend to write about women’s pain through a sexual lens, that glorifies even the darkest moments. Think of Beth again, a woman who is a drug addict, but looks beautiful by being so. Or Lana Del Rey whose lyrics glamorized female pain made her a worldwide success. Celebs use Ozempic to lose weight, in hopes of looking extremely thin. Even the outfit inspiration boards we might create, feature girls who look in pain. All of these images we see tell us this is what our pain should look like. 

Tweet us, @VALLEYmag, with your thoughts on the term “heroin chic.”

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