Increasingly, the world of home decor is resembling the world of fashion. A certain style or shape will emerge, often from an independent artist, and develop a cult following. Seemingly without warning, it will begin to catch on, suddenly populating Instagram feeds and homeware brands with quick turnarounds. Then just as it becomes unavoidable, it is replaced with something shiny and new.
The 'headless woman' trend (as I've taken to calling it) emerged from the meeting of three paths: the proliferation of visually pleasing and accessible feminist messaging around self-love and body positivity; the millennial aesthetic of rounded edges and organic shapes; and the rising interest in home decor, with a particular Instagram-trained eye on vases and candles. After the immense and fairly recent popularity of pots and cushions with boobs drawn on them, it seems like the logical next step.
It is not a new trend in itself. There is a long history of headless women as decorative objects. The most recent iteration probably started with Anissa Kermiche and her cheekily named jugs and pots. Once the trend developed and you began to see a greater sense of playfulness in this area of homeware, problems began to be visible – like a dominance of peachy white skin tones in candles which seemed to be aiming for realism. The celebration of some features in particular – wide hips and thick thighs – is arguably fetishistic of Black women's bodies. And that's to say nothing of the fact that they are all, inescapably, headless.
This is not a universally applicable problem. Many artists have endeavoured to have a huge range of not only skin tones but body shapes, with companies like Siren and OlmoDesign eschewing the highly idealised version of a female torso which now dominates the trend. Their products recapture the celebration and playfulness that seemed to inspire the trend in the first place.
Ultimately, this particular trend in home decor will always be divisive. And in 2021, it feels unfair to tell people what they should or shouldn't feel about a trend.
So if headless women make you feel odd, rest assured that the tide of homeware trends will move on soon enough. And for those who love them, here are some we think are, in their own way, particularly good headless women.