The new ideal size for a woman is … negative.
Remember when women’s clothing lines started selling a size zero? Well, evidently size zero was just a grotesque accommodation for women who can’t control themselves and scarf down an entire wedge of iceberg lettuce at one sitting.
Because now size 000 — triple zero — has become the dream-girl goal. And I do mean “girl.” On some brands’ measurements, a size 000 has a 23-inch waist, which is about the same size waist as a first- or second-grade girl. Britain’s Telegraph newspaper named some of the Hollywood notables heading into triple-digit territory, the likes of Nicole Richie and Kate Bosworth. These are women other women — and worse, girls — want to be like.
The body type is far worse than author Tom Wolfe’s scrawny “social X-rays.” They come closer to the duchess of Windsor, a punishing dieter whose reputed 31-23-31-ish measurements, along with her cushions smugly embroidered with “You can never be too rich or too thin,” put her in the avant-garde of the grotesquely thin.
These are more like actress bobbleheads, a monster noggin on a stick-figure body. The torso is so devoid of flesh that you could play the ribs like a xylophone. The gap between the thighs is measurable; the hip bones are so sharp you could plow with them, except that emaciation weakens the bones, not to mention playing havoc with fertility.
I expect that anyone who wants to be way less than zero has been hypercritically regarding her virtual self — omnipresent in Twitter pictures, on Instagram and Vine and in selfies — rather than her real self, given that the virtual world is eclipsing the real one.
Girls pick it up from celebrity media that reproach women all the time: If an actress can get back to her pre-pregnancy shape within a month or so of giving birth, what excuse do other women have? Normal is the new fat.
Maybe what we need is some social scrawny-shaming, the way some people practice fat-shaming now. Tweet the very thin and very famous pictures of food or order a prepaid pizza to be delivered to their homes.
As with anorexia, bulimia and self-cutting, weight is one thing — maybe the only thing — some young women may feel they can control, in a world that feels out of control. In a political context, it’s hardly a surprise that some women might want to simply disappear. Amazing shrinking women’s bodies are paralleling a moment when some political forces seem to want women to disappear from the public sphere altogether, and become — not unlike the size they want to wear — like children, not heard and almost not seen.
Follow Patt Morrison on Twitter @pattmlatimes