The Myth of Body Shaming a Kardashian

Khloe Kardashian in front of a green and orange background.

Last week, an image surfaced of Khloe Kardashian that resulted in a mild internet war unlike ever seen before. The image, an unauthorized one that featured the youngest Kardashian in a leopard print bikini, made waves on the web as it made its way through a variety of internet pages. Khloe Kardashian herself took swift action to ensure the image was promptly removed – but not before it was widely shared.

After the release of the image, a statement was released by Khloe Kardashian’s team that it was a mistaken release and that it was not to be shared. Backlash promptly began over the Kardashian’s adamant attempt to get the photo taken down from the internet, including another statement released by Khloe saying, “The photo that was posted this week is beautiful. But as someone who has struggled with body image her whole life, when someone takes a photo of you that isn’t flattering in bad lighting or doesn’t capture your body the way it is after working so hard to get it to this point — and then shares it to the world — you should have every right to ask for it to not be shared.”

While Kardashian is correct about privacy and preferences needing to be respected especially as a celebrity, there’s a message here that is being missed by her and all of her supporters: the Kardashians have arguably created and contributed to the unhealthy method of projecting perfection on social media. Airbrushed, filtered, and images edited to perfection show that the last priority the Kardashians have ever had is to be seen as normal – something the unauthorized image clearly depicted.

The real controversy here is not some violation of privacy committed against a wildly identifiable public figure – it’s that Kardashian had an opportunity to embrace the sharing of this image and lean into it but chose not to. The Kardashians were one of the founding celebrity families to utilize social media to build their empire. Now that they see what it is like to be outed as a normal person, their instinct is to resist it and fight it. By constantly promoting and showing off their affluent lifestyles for all to see online without an ounce of realness to go with it, the concept of being seen in their normal appearances goes against their very brand.

The Kardashians have some of the most toxic and problematic images on social media. Never addressing the scandals in their lives directly, they love using their accounts to promote flat tummy teas, waist trainers, and a variety of other products they shill in an attempt to convince their audiences that with just the right thing they can wake up with the body of a Kardashian. Nevermind the endless amount of plastic surgeries done that have cost them thousands of dollars or the personal trainers they keep on payroll. The beauty squads they hire to help them keep their wigs on and shimmy into their gowns don’t count when you can just detox and slap on a KKW foundation, right? Wrong. This culture of needing to be seen as perfect that Khloe complains about is one that the Kardashians have built and perpetuate themselves.

Not only does this cause harmful comparisons to those on social media, this entire situation contributes to the concepts of fatphobia and body shaming – that women like Khloe cannot be seen as “normal looking” since that’s ugly. This constant need to only project perfection is promoting hateful rhetoric against women. Despite Khloe’s insistence that everyone is beautiful, her unwillingness to accept her appearance in that photo and need to provide a photoset of her “real” body in the post above shows that if she’s being seen in a natural way that’s unapproved and unedited, it’s a no-go for her. When normal is demonized in favor of perfection, you cannot body shame anyone.

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