This week celebrity Kim Kardashian posed nude for Paper Magazine, attempting to 'break the internet' with her oiled behind. The nudes were not stolen from her, and neither were they leaked. However there has been an enormous backlash against Kim's decision to release the images, especially amongst women. I don't normally write about celebrity culture, but being a dancer and being interested in the body, I found this story quite interesting.
A lot of the comments I have seen women make about Kim's photos are both weak and concerning.
"She's supposed to be a mother, she should be ashamed"
This statement seems to imply that once you become a mother you can no longer claim your own body or sexuality. If the images were of her snorting cocaine or performing sexual acts, then there would be a problem in terms of her role as a mother. But it seems to me that embracing and celebrating your natural body is only healthy and positive. Additionally, an inoffensive nude doesn't suggest or prove that Kim is a neglectful or incompetent mother. It only proves that despite having had a child, Kim is still embracing her sexuality.
"Trashy. Guess that is why she is standing in a black garbage bag"
There seems to be a deepened fear of the female body that emerged in the Victorian era, which often leads to women bashing other women, and hence the 'trash' comments. We have no trouble looking at topless men in fashion campaigns, art or social media; but as soon as a woman takes her top off, the line seems to have been crossed. Women (and sometimes men) are taught that the amount of skin that they
display defines their self worth. Showing too much skin and you will
labelled a 'slut' and show too little skin and you will be labelled
'frigid'. Since Kim hasn't played by these rules, it is unsurprising that there has been protest from both men and women alike. Nevertheless, there is absolutely nothing trashy about a woman choosing to celebrate her body. It is her body and it is her decision to publicise the photos.
Also, that dress is custom made, sparkly and cute and doesn't look anything like a garbage bag.
There appears to be some confusion between selling your body for sex and simply revealing your body here. If Kim used the images to advertise herself for sex, then she could be considered to be a prostitute. But it is dangerous to slut shame a woman for expressing herself sexually. Along with the fear of the female body, the fear of female sexuality in western culture still exists, and women are still scrutinised for expressing themselves sexually. Some people believe that slut shaming contributes to rape culture and promotes girl-bashing. In short, slut shaming sends a negative message about female sexual expression to both men and women that women who express themselves sexually are 'whores' or 'sluts'. This objectifies women as sexual objects exclusively for men (and not for themselves) and somehow makes it 'ok' to take advantage of the objectified woman, because she is no longer a whole human being, she is an object.
While Kim K might be seen as 'a vapid, no-talent reflection of society' to some, she is still a woman and she still holds the right to do what she wants with her body and her sexual expression. Although she has made the images public business, it is not our place to judge or scrutinise her. The photos released by Paper Magazine do not hint at her capabilities as a mother, or as a woman, especially not solely on the basis that she is simply naked.