Why Can't Women Love Their Bodies Publicly?: A Kardashian Case Study
by Kimberly Roe
On March 7, Kim Kardashian, reality tv star and celebrity pop culture staple, uploaded a censored nude selfie and the internet was almost immediately divided. Within seconds, debates about her self-worth surfaced. Did Kim Kardashian have any respect if she was willing to display her body so blatantly? Is she, a mother, allowed to act like that? Would we allow our own wives to display themselves so publicly? Do our opinions even matter?
Kim Kardashian isn’t the first women to upload nude photos of herself on social media, and she has not singlehandedly sparked this debate about a woman’s worth and it’s relationship with self celebration. However, her high profile status has brought the conversation out of the side crevices of Facebook and Twitter and into the full light and consequential criticism of the Internet. Furthermore, these debates shed light on a few greater issues: the subconscious determination and assumed right of many to criticize and police women’s bodies.
Some of the first responses to Kardashian’s photo were expressions of shaming. Among the most publicized of these expressions was singer-songwriter-comedienne Bette Midler’s tweet: If Kim wants us to see a part of her we've never seen, she's gonna have to swallow the camera.” But she was just joking, some could argue. What harm is it doing?
Kim Kardashian’s rise to fame included a sex tape released against her will and years of humiliation and derogatory jokes thrown her way without her consent. She was, and still is, slut-shamed just for having consensual sex. She was blamed for the tape’s release and harassed despite the fact that the tape was released without her permission and she gave no indication of approval or anything other than distress after the fact. She was the butt of jokes, crude jokes that are still used against women who have sex today.
Though one could say she came out on top (she and her family did after all form a social media empire), other women who have been victims of harassment and whose privacy has been violated through nude photo and sex tape leaks see their lives change drastically, often for the worst. They, like Kim, become the butt of jokes, but they may not have the shield of mansions and millions of fans.hey are no longer taken seriously. Unlike the Kardashians, they may become severely disadvantaged when it comes to job prospects, simply because someone violated their basic privacy. It is anything but funny.
In the case of the controversial Twitter photo, Kardashian was also slammed for posting a nude picture as a mother. She was compared to more conservative mothers like Ayesha Curry, wife of NBA star Stephen Curry who has long been lauded by many as a near perfect role model, and deemed less fit to take care of her children because of her self-expression. There are many ways that this is very false and harmful logic.
Firstly, women can be --and are-- more than one thing at a time. Think Angelina Jolie -- renowned actress and lauded humanitarian. Consider Mary Kom -- strong, powerful boxer and caring, respectable mother. A woman can be an engineer and a very successful artist. A social media mogul and a librarian. A mother and a truck driver. Women can be bashful and brash. Devilish and caring. Sexual and motherly.
Secondly, there is no correlation between a want to share a nude photo of yourself and an ability to be a good parent. Absolutely none. Nothing about being proud enough of your post baby body to show the world can dispute your qualifications of motherhood.
Lastly, there is no one way for a mother to be. Yes, mothers have many similarities (most noticeably, the fact that they all have children), but there is no ultimate experience of motherhood or rulebook to how any mother should live her life. Mothers can cover as much or as little of themselves as they want because, child or not, their bodies belong to them and no one else.
One of the most pressing criticisms against Kardashian was the issue of being a role model. Actress Chloe Grace Moretz tweeted, “I truly hope you realize how important setting goals are for young women, teaching them we have so much more to offer than just our bodies.” Others reiterated her statement in various ways. All were implying that Kardashian was teaching women that their bodies were their only source of worth.
What Moretz and those in agreement with her forget is that, again, women can be--and are--more than one thing at a time. A woman can be proud of her body while also being...everything else. Kim Kardashian is very known for her body for various reasons, but she is also a successful business woman. All of her actions show women how successful one can be if they take advantages of the situations they have been given. Nude photos do not suddenly make all of her accomplishments void.
Additionally, Kardashian teaches more than one might think to young women through her nude photos. She teaches them that it is okay to be sexual and confident. She shows them that bodies are something to be celebrated, if you so please. She also, through the dismissive and unbothered attitude she used to address the criticism her nude photo faced, shows them that the negative feedback doesn’t matter if you are happy with yourself and who you are.
The swiftness with which the internet struck against Kardashian’s display proved that much improvement is needed when it comes to the acceptance of a woman’s right to do as she pleases, even in feminist circles. But it also gave us the opportunity to combat the backlash and uplift one another through solidarity.
Kim Kardashian is by no means perfect, but her confidence and unapologetic body shots are not what make her imperfect. Kim Kardashian has every right to love her body and every right to do what she wants with it. Women are allowed to love their bodies, loudly and publicly. Let them.