Hey kids – the 00s weren’t what you think

Do you believe in reincarnation?

Whether or not you take a Buddhist inspired attitude to life, the evidence is irrefutable that reincarnation exists.

Well… I mean, when it comes to fashion, at least.

The twenty-teens saw a sharp rise in minimalist styling; but, increasingly, a new competitor is rearing it’s two-tone highlighted, blue-eyeshadow wearing head…

the return of 00s fashion.

Take a look at any random sample of Instagram queens and you’ll see matching tracksuit sets, rimless tinted sunglasses, crop tops, diamante everything, gold nameplate necklaces and some seriously hot-pink gear.

bella hadid 00s fashion icon
Model Bella Hadid leads the way in contemporary 00s inspired fashion

Fortunately, some of the more questionable 00s trends haven’t (yet??) made a return…

  • The over-plucked ‘sperm’ brow. While the twenty-teens will be known for the completely OTT statement brow (this really isn’t a good look), the ‘sperm’ brow (this is terrible look) is likely to stay off the table for good.
  • Bronzer… everywhere. This was never used in a Kim K way, to contour cheekbones, it was dusted over cheeks, nose, chin, forehead and body for, I’m assuming, a healthy glow? (In retrospect, it rarely had this effect). We’ve fallen too deeply in love with shimmering highlight to make this make-up faux pas again.
  • Nobody is fool enough (anymore) to use streaky, cheap fake tans and think this is a good look. They were wash off (whether or not manufacturers intended this), which made beach days and getting caught out in the rain fun (not).
  • Two-tone blonde and brown hair has yet to make an appearance – thank god. This was either in the form of chuncky highlights or literally by dividing the hair in half, top to bottom, and bleaching the top. Why???

paris hilton thats hot 00s culture.png
(I was guilty of the bronzer, of wearing bad metallic eye shadows, of circling my eyes with black liner, adding bright clips of colour to my hair, low rise jeans, flares, a grunge look, fake tans, stupid little bags and body glitter… to name a few. Hey. this was before the days of Instagram and widespread good taste, okay! I have probably burned all photographic evidence from this era)

Today, 00s fashion has been reincarnated into a milder, more stylised form. In the same way 80s hair never made it back into the mainstream, some of these wrongdoings in the name of style shall too be forgotten.

For gen-Zers, this echo of 00s culture is likely oddly comforting: this was the era of their childhood, after all. They saw 00s women through the eyes of idealised womanhood. I did the same to women in the 90s, my childhood spent watching early Buffys and Sex and the City episodes (yes, I really did watch both in my childhood), and reading my sister’s fashion magazines, wide eyed and assuming that this was what I’d grow into.

For me, the 00s were some pretty formative years of coming to grips with fashion, womanhood and romance; I turned 18 in 2009. So, I want to shed some light on 00s culture for those who were so preoccupied with dressing up their with Bratz dolls in platform shoes and pink highlights that they may have missed the other, darker, side of the picture. Yes, it was an era of endless optimism (remember, this is pre-economic crash, pre rise of the alt-right and before we were actually actively experiencing environmental doom. The future was bright – not terrifying). But, it wasn’t all rose-tinted aviators.


  1. Idealising Toxic Sexuality.

    Okay, you’ve seen How I Met Your Mother, right? And, I *know* that you’ve seen those later, post-90s episodes of Friends.

    This was a decade that forgot feminism; a decade of double standards and of objectifying women. While the 80s and 90s (and obviously, way beyond) showcased sexism, there were at least some nods to women fighting social norms of the times.

    The male heros of 00s TV would endlessly chase women. And, not just any women. Young, beautiful women (and never over 30 – some even in their late teens). Women with perfect breasts, 26 inch waists and, probably, a host of modelling head-shots behind them. These were archetypal women of the time: needy, desperate to get married/ be in a long term relationship and fiercely wanting to have children. They’re defining personality characteristics? Shopaholics.

    Every week the male leads would date a new ‘model’. The message was clear: you, as a woman, were very, very replaceable unless you were everything the object of your affections wanted you to be. (That is, beautiful, easy going, didn’t live off salad and could keep up with the guys, in a feminine way, of course, and yet somehow maintained a perfect Pilates body)

    Ted mosby is a douche
    A quick look at Ted Mosby’s (How I Met Your Mother) dating life. And he was the uncool one.

    Token sit-com character tropes of the time: Slutty, fun loving man, who just wants to sleep with as many women as possible. Woman get’s hurt? Ha ha, too bad! 

    It was less manic pixie dream girls, and more disposable sex dolls. Did you ever wonder where that attitude that every man is *owed* a beautiful woman comes from? It’s this. Unenlightened, toxic-male Hollywood producer culture.

    The women of 00s sitcoms did not enjoy the same carousel of pretty young things to play with. The objects of their desires appeared much less frequently, they were often significantly older, treated the women badly, and, more often than not, looked like your average Joe rather than an Abercrombie model.

    So, men, get as many women as you want, but be careful not to marry them, haha! Women? Be lucky that a guy finds you attractive, and know your place or he’ll probably dump you.

    So, you see the double standard?

    Peak Wenstein attitudes.

    ally mcbeal girl power
    Ally Mcbeal, first airing in 1997, opens with lawyer, Ally, suing her former employer for sexual harrassment.

    While the 90s had some serious feminist overtones in sitcoms such as Buffy and Ally McBeal, the 00s took a very, very large step back.

    Let’s keep that in the past. Toxic sexuality, goodbye.

  2. The Age of Air Brushing 

    People complain about contemporary Instagram culture. But for every IG model that you follow, r e p l a c e it with a body positivity account – and watch your life improve drastically. If you don’t like what you see on your phones and your computers – you can change that. We have greater control than ever before to tailor the images we consume.

    In the 00s? We didn’t have a whole lot of choice, save actually just switching our TVs off and picking up a book (but not a chick lit).

    I’m in endless awe of contemporary beauty culture. Today, we’re fighting for diversity. Influencers represent their own standards and their own beauty; they show us their ‘flaws’, their acne, their stomach rolls, their noses, and whatever other ‘quirks’ they have. They allow us to look in the mirror and see, with kind eyes, our own beauty and value. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Even mainstream media has picked up on our increasing appreciation for body diversity. Take a look at Netflix today, and you’ll see a range of female bodies; young, old, curvy, skinny, black, white, Asian. And yes, while we still have a very long way to go in regards to representation, comparatively, we’ve undergone a revolution to the white, toned, skinny, cis norms of the previous decade.

    This was the popular girl you went to school with.

    Beauty is increasingly accepted as subjective.

    For Gen-Zers and younger millennials who have grown up within social media culture, this might sound grating. Of course they face the pressures of social media culture and a still pervasive notion of acceptable female beauty.

    But, the 00s were the era of air brushing. Women were expected to look perfect – all the time.

    Common trope of the era: woman on a TV show waking up with full make-up on; mascara, foundations, dark eye shadow, blush and lipstick… 

    There was no-one to show you how to pose, how to contour and how to actually achieve their look and lifestyle. It was all an elusive magic trick no one really knew how to achieve.

    Watch a 90s show morph into the 00s era and you’ll see unpolished hair, low-key make-up and casual, cute fashion take a leap into the eeriely perfect. For those of us in the audience who didn’t have someone to spray on our foundation every two hours and spend three styling our hair alone, we were made to feel very, very lacking. There were no body positively social media accounts to ground us in reality. No social media icons posting pictures of their acne. Only images of oppressive, overwhelming perfection to compare our undoubtedly flawed selves to.

  3. Size Zero, Low-Carb, Low-Fat Hell. 

    Praise contemporary veganism.

    We save animals and we save the environment, all while posting mouth-watering pictures of sweet potato fries and vegan burgers and raw-vegan, salted-caramel, peanut buttery chocolate ice-cream bars that send us to new realms of heavenly, sensory bliss. Our delicious plant-based food culture is saving our bodies by preventing chronic disease and giving us mouth-gasms in the process. Vegan food is notorious for keeping us slim – but, if we carry a little extra weight from all that delicious vegan food? No big deal. So you’re a little thicc? That’s hot.

    But, this hasn’t always been the way.

    The 00s saw the rise (once again) of the most depressing, tasteless and pointless food trend as of yet (with the exception of actual water fasting): high-protein, low-carb and low-fat diets. Think cottage cheese and celery (yum), scrambled egg whites for breakfast (no bread), turkey breast lunches (no bread), baked fish and salad for dinner, half a banana with breakfast (no bread, maybe 1/3 cup of oats, though), or a protein bar that tastes like actual powder compressed into a bar form, and with ingredients consisting of more letters than the actual alphabet itself.

    diet culture vegan food
    Which would you rather snack on? (FYI the raw vegan snickers is actually good for you. But, you know. Your choice).

    So, what the hell was the point of this diet comprising of actual depression in food form?

    The achive a ‘size zero’ body.

    As a women, you were expected to make yourself so small, you didn’t even have a dress size. Really.

    Body ideals of the time: hip bones protruding from your low rise jeans, visible clavicles and rib cage on display. 

    Lindsay Loha size zero body ideals
    If you’re naturally skinny, and you have (prominent) breasts, that’s great. But skinny with boobs was THE look.

    If you didn’t want to go for this look, the acceptable alternative for Attractive Female Body was Body Building Icon. Five or six day a week workouts (waking up at 5am if you were busy) and the same grueling diet of lean protein, non-starchy vegetables and protein powders.

    There was no in between. No images of cellulite. No social media accounts saying ‘hey, you need to focus on being healthy, not punishing yourself for failing your strict standards of diet and exercise’.

Yes, there are good things about 00s culture, and bad things about contemporary culture. The 00s are still the era that brought us the girl power of Veronica Mars; it was the era of MySpace and now long-lost teenage innocence.

But, for the most part, I look upon today’s do-it-yourself culture of influencers and creators and artists as a relief, a welcome release from years of tension of regressive attitudes and unhealthy standards towards women and women’s bodies.

gen Z sonia elsie keeps it real
Gen Z artist, creator and influencer Sonia Elsie Keeps It Real

I live in continual awe of the way Gen Zers and millennials are transforming social attitudes towards women, our bodies, gender, sexuality, race, citizenship, fashion, food and – my god – literally everything important that was so often overlooked by the masses in the previous decades.

Let the 00s reincarnate, if they must, and let’s have fun with it. Let’s take the body glitter and the candy coloured glasses and metallic mini skirts with us as we protest issues that actually matter, as we demand mutual respect and validation in our relationships, and as we post pictures of our beautifully imperfect bodies for all of our followers to fall in love with.

stella rae 00s
Stella Rae, vegan social media queen rocks 00s style – and messages about consent. #enlightenedqueen

What do you think are the best and worst aspects of 00s and twenty-teen culture? Which era did you (or are you) come of age in? What aspects of 00s culture and fashion do you want to see a comeback – and which do you want to see buried?


Zero Waste is sexy af – you should try it

Have you heard of the zero waste movement?

Gone are the days when doing anything environmentally friendly meant that you had dreadlocks, sported a hemp green hoodie and (probably) actually chained yourself to trees.

Have you seen? Hippie has had a makeover. Eco friendly is fast rising as a fashion, and it’s tres sexy.

Stevie Yay ethical fashion
Stevie Yay/ Mama Eats Plants

Ethical sweethearts of today hang out in city cafes, take beach pics dripping with golden sun and white sand, and pose with their plastic free fresh produce they whip up into Instagram worthy meals. They have long flowing locks and trendy short cuts enriched by plant-sourced and animal friendly shampoos, wear vintage gold earrings, vintage sunglasses and ridiculously cute thrifted outfits.

But style isn’t their only weapon of choice in showing the world a new, plant-healthy, soul-quenching and beautiful way of living. They’re spreading the world about the danger our planet is it, the destruction on lives our contemporary consumption habits are having and how our blind subscription to the capitalist lifestyle is making us all miserable.

Want to learn how to cook delicious meals for your family that are zero-waste, wholesome and utterly mouthwatering? Check out Mama Eats Plants.

Want to put down the sugar and cheap chocolate for good (tdlr: your two minutes of sugary pleasure are enslaving children. YOUR actions are enslaving children. Do you want that?) Watch this.

Want to give up cheap, fast fashion for good? Kristen Leo has you covered.

Need to step away from the purchasing of cheap, useless shit because people expect you to buy into this culture? READ THIS. 

These chic, healthy, glowing icons are teaching the world how to live with beauty, intention and purpose – all through your choices of consumption. By living in greater harmony with the planet, not buying plastic-coated products, cheap, unethical food, and destructive high street fashion, you gain a new quality of life, a new purpose. 

It’s not an easy transition, but it’s one I’m trying. I eat plants, try to reduce my plastic, and maintain a minimalist wardrobe (and that’s very French chic after all, no?).

Knowing what I know, I could never go back to the way I lived before. My soul simply couldn’t take it. I’m always striving to be better, and I’m so grateful for this movement – and zero-waste icons – in the process.

What do you think of #ZeroWaste? Do you want to hear more on living beautifully, chicly, with this ethos? What do you do to maintain your harmony with the planet?

Kristen Leo vegan beauty
Kristen Leo

On becoming a French beauty icon (when you’re not even French)

I could write an article about how to be beautiful – French style. About that elusive je ne sais quoi that we – as distinctly non-French women – clamour to achieve.

I could write about how to be Parisienne: how to style your hair, find the perfect shade of red lipstick for your skin tone, tell you how (not what; there’s a difference) to eat and how to master that untouchable je m’en fous attitude. All in the name of becoming ridiculously, unbearably desirable.

But instead, I’m going to write about something else. Because, guess what? That’s been done a million times before.

I’m going to write about why women are so obsessed with French beauty – and what this tells us about ourselves.

What is French beauty?

It’s so much more than a look. After all; we have celebrity style icons and YouTube tutorials and books written on the topic. But they have no meaning beyond the surface. How do we get a cult following from a fresh face, statement lip and tousled hair?

As the saying goes:

“Beauty without depth is just decoration”.

And mere decoration never stirred anything deep within our hearts.

The ‘cult’ in cultivate;

In a world telling women just what we should be, how we should act, what’s sexy, what’s not; a world where your bare face has your male colleague telling you, oh so sympathetically, “you look tired today” (Actually, you woke up bright eyed at 6 am, went to yoga and then bounced into the day), and two minutes online inevitably leads to a shit-storm of opinions on women’s bodies, French beauty says YOU are amazing just as you are. You just need to learn how to make the most of your unique features.

And it doesn’t require 16 different products and two hours of prep in the morning to get achieve the French look.

Contemporary French chic is sexy –  but with almost no effort. It’s cultivated without being overdone; enhancing without hiding. The French girl make-up motto: leave the contouring to Kim K and her disciples (And don’t you want to be able to look at your bare face in the mirror at the end of the day and like what you see?).

kim kardashian is fake

Perfection is an illusion not worth the effort of trying and – let face it – failing to achieve. Perfection is boring anyway, and boring isn’t sexy – boring is bland. Bland doesn’t strike deep emotions in our hearts; it doesn’t shake us to our core.

So why should we even try to be perfect, aka. ‘bland’? Highlighter, two inches of concealer, and all of our insecurities about your appearance can go to hell.

Yes, appearances do matter – and the French girl knows this. But not like you think.

Looking in the mirror and loving the shape of your nose, wearing lipstick to emphasise your unique smile, using expensive creams for silky soft, glowing skin to pay tribute to the oh-so-you shape of your face is the very thing that will leave someone (and not everyone – but why would you want to please everyone?) star struck in the street at the sight of you.

For someone raised outside of this personal beauty acceptance, it’s mind-blowing.

You mean, I’m not ugly? I can look like myself and still be attractive?

This revelation is a godly and out-of-this-world, out-of-this-body experience. But for women raised on self-loathing for not looking like a Victoria’s Secret model, it can still be hard to believe. Self-criticism and the need to wear full-coverage foundation is deeply woven into the fabric of our being.

But we should be asking ourselves – why don’t we want to look like ourselves? Why do we want to appeal to the gross beauty standards of a mindless, cotton candy pop-culture Hollywood executive who you’re never going to meet? What’s the point? Where’s the authentic beauty? Who has the most to gain out of us wanting to look like something and someone we’re not? (Hint: it’s not you, it’s industry $$$$)

We know how the French girl dresses. You’ll be drawn to this mysterious girl who seems to shine above the rest; that casual elegance while everyone else is simply trying too hard. Everything she owns is timeless, fits her perfectly, and spoke to something deep in her soul to be expressed in the externals. Impulse purchases are not in her vocabulary.

But we know this already, right? Let’s call it mysterious minimalism – simplicity, with all of the intrigue unadorned beige and white plains are missing; sultry in a way a reality TV star could never (and let’s face it, wouldn’t want to; they never did do a Parisian ‘Jersey Shore’, after all) master. It’s quality over quantity, and quite frankly, in this terrifying world of excessive consumerism and environmental carelessness tearing the very ground we live on apart – the fact that less (possessions, not skimpy clothes – but you do you) can be sexy is a relief.

And, we all know that the quintessential French girl we’re trying to dig up deep within ourselves is sensual. It’s one of these reasons she’s so irresistible. She drinks freshly ground coffee in the morning whether or not the latest study says she should drink it, and takes an evening walk in the sunshine as August falls softly into a golden September and the last of the summer sunshine touches her bare shoulders. Mindful sensuality is a life philosophy: you learn to fall in love, continually, with life’s pleasures while understanding that overindulgence is not a pleasure – it’s your undoing.

So, you see? French beauty is soulful. It’s accepting your unique charm instead of trying to fix it; it’s seeking quality over consumerism and recognising that life itself is an experience. No other aesthetic touches on the void left by the impossible type-A standards we’re held to in our own cultures: that we need to be more, more, more.

Didn’t get up to go to the gym at 5? You failed. Not thicc-thin? Forget about calling yourself sexy. Big nose? Curly hair? Straighten it. Fix it. Don’t you dare call yourself beautiful – that’s for someone else to decide.

You can appropriate this.

Yes, French women are not ethereal beings free from cultural standards of beauty and prejudices for not conforming, etc, etc. And no, not every French women embodies this ideal and is free of insecurities.

French beauty, however, exists as a cultural force of it’s own, reaching beyond the city confines of Paris and into the hearts of women everywhere.

So, instead of damning the fact that we weren’t born in Paris and raised to embody that je ne sais quoi, we can appropriate French chic without being held to any of the standards French women are held to. And in the process, we can cast aside our own culture’s standards and redefining our self-worth, beauty and empowerment.

(The West fucked everyone over anyway, so take what you can and make it your own).


In a world of perpetual want and achievement, French beauty be a return to the abyss; it’s a release; a freedom. We find an acceptance of who we are, how we really look, and that our power is in making the most of the very thing our own cultural beauty standards tell us are unlovable.

So find you’re perfect shade of lipstick, don’t even think about touching your hair, and forget that contouring even exists. You. Are. Beautiful. So learn how to make the most of it.

And let that be a Fuck You to the beauty standards shoved down your throat. Because guess what? Tu t’en fous.

French beauty is powerful.  It’s no wonder we’re all so obsessed.



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