The hourglass shape has been a feminine beauty standard for millennia. But when was the last time you actually saw a real hourglass? I just googled “hourglass,” and the top results were a makeup company, a book called Hourglass and an article on the best hourglass bodies of all time. It’s not the most logical point of reference if most of us haven’t gazed upon an hourglass in recent memory, nor is it in any way a realistic beauty standard once you’ve seen one.
And so, as the symbols and objects present in our daily lives change, so too do the terms we use to identify our bodies. Thus, many women on TikTok are now dubbing themselves “AirPod-shaped.”
An AirPod-shaped woman may have once referred to herself as “apple-shaped,” according to traditional styling guides. She has a larger bust, with little shape or definition below it. Alternatively, she might be shaped like an inverted triangle, with the bulk of her figure located on the top third of her body. In any case, she carries her curves on her chest, making her look like an AirPod from the side.
The first reference I could find of this comes from last January. “When he’s an ass guy but your body is shaped like an AirPod,” reads the caption of a TikTok by @elliannamfry that shows her running from the camera and then collapsing. The initial video got 33,000 views, but other people began calling themselves AirPods with more viral success over the summer. Most instances were jokes — one woman said she has a body people pay “£100s” for — but many expressed a sense of disappointment in their own bodies as well. “I know no man is using me for my body because I’m shaped like an AirPod,” TikTok user @circusclown123 lamented, receiving over two million views.
Last month, however, there seemed to have been a change in attitude. Rather than using the AirPod comparison to insult themselves, people started to use the term as a badge of honor. “Everyone PLEASE stop asking Santa for a funny, intelligent AirPod-shaped Jewish woman who wants to become a lawyer and loves Larry David,” @qvueenjulia captioned a video of herself in early December.
Meanwhile, the trend has intersected with another viral TikTok format using the beginning of “The Chronic” by Dr. Dre, with the line “Welcome to Death Row” being highlighted. In it, women suggest that men who date them without prior experience dating women of their type won’t be able to handle it. There are now dozens of TikToks using the sound with the caption, “When you’re his first AirPod-shaped woman.”
Tatiana Tenreyro, a staff writer at The A.V. Club, first tipped me off to the term. “It kind of horrified me because it’s an accurate way to describe my exact shape,” she tells me. “But it’s such a cringey term. It’s so unsexy.”
Tenreyro’s right — while “apple-shaped” is at least suggestive of fruit, nature and fertility,
“AirPod-shaped” feels just as cold as “inverted triangle.” That said, it’s not as though being AirPod-shaped is in any way a bad thing — prior to the rise of ass, big-chested women were the American ideal. Just look at Pamela Anderson, Anna Nicole Smith or any of the other bombshells of the 1980s and 1990s. They were famous precisely because they were AirPod-shaped.
Being AirPod-shaped might sound silly, but so does classifying yourself by any singular form at all. Nobody is literally shaped like an AirPod, just like nobody is literally shaped like an hourglass. And unlike an hourglass, I actually have a pair of AirPods to refer to.