I have had the song “Walking Trophy” by Hood Celebrity, real name Tina Pinnock, on repeat for the last two to three weeks. Its questionable lyrics are neatly concealed by its catchy rhythm and the hip voice of the singer. Careful attention to the lyrics, however, reveal clear cut standards for being beautiful or a walking trophy. It shames women who may have cellulite, or “disproportioned assets”, for want of a better phrase, as opposed to the supposedly ideal woman.
I definitely don’t fit the requirements to be a ‘walking trophy’ but I still sing along, give a little hip sway (once I am alone) and feel an immense burst of confidence about a song that totally doesn’t apply to me. Perhaps I am not too bothered by it because for the most part I am comfortable with my appearance. From time to time I do look at my upper thighs and feel saddened by their zebra-like appearance and I do wish my skin glowed like “pepper light” as Hood Celebrity sings in her song. These are feelings that I am always usually able to brush off by the time I am finished getting dressed, though they occur more frequently now.
Like with most things in pop culture, not much is being read into the “Walking Trophy” lyrics because after a few months the song will probably fade away and that’s why we are able to brush over it. But now more than ever there seems to be constant pressure, through media, pushing women to feel ashamed of their bodies. Twist it or turn it, nothing changes the effect it can have on our mental health over a prolonged period, even if we manage to dismiss it from our thoughts for a time.
According to a 2017 survey done by the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health on the effects of social media on British youth, when linked to platforms like Instagram and Facebook there are higher chances for them experiencing anxiety, depression, lack of sleep, worries of body image and FOMO (fear of missing out). With the over-exhaustion of all these photo-sharing applications, one can never be starved for outlets to feel more isolated. But truly, we have all in some way or another become addicted to validation.
In carefully creating an idealistic life, we welcome that constant spirit of self-doubt. It feels like we must always post pictures that highlight youth, wealth and beauty in order to be liked, literally and figuratively. The achievement of happiness has been restructured and it seems it can only be attained if we look like the pictures at the top of the algorithm.
A PhD researcher at Australia’s University of Notre Dame, disclosed a finding for her survey which looked at 18 to 25-year-old female Instagram users with online publication Dazed Digital: “It’s really gone past just wanting to look like somebody,” she explained. “Now it’s about having their life.”
In a few months “Walking Trophy” will lose airplay and be replaced by some other song, not necessarily of the same lyrical style. What will remain is the real issue: how we manage our addiction to constantly question ourselves when there is so much pressure that surrounds us visually and lyrically to look a certain way. Some of us will have the will power to push it to the back of our thoughts, but for those with severe anxiety over their body image or even an eating disorder, this is easier said than done and still a problem for anyone no matter the magnitude. Perhaps over exposure is still the key but only if we choose our real selves and not an unrealistic ideal.