Kim K and the F-word have not had the most loving relationship thus far.
Despite the “Are you a feminist?” question constantly leaping off interviewer’s lips, she has managed to avoid directly addressing it; the closest she’s come is last year’s casual “Yeah. I think you would call me a feminist.” Women’s rights don’t seem to be at the top of Kim’s priorities, but although it’s disappointing seeing her shy from the label, it doesn’t automatically make her detrimental to the movement.
Kim is simultaneously one of America’s biggest guilty pleasures and one of our favorite people to publicly scorn. Her fame is a testament to our hypocritical double standards, both to whom we give our attention and how we choose to slut-shame. For feminists, too, she remains a source of controversy: to recruit or ridicule?
“Kim Kardashian has no talent,” everyone says, ever. No, the girl can’t sing or juggle, no, she doesn’t have a doctorate in engineering. But feminism is supposed to value and celebrate ALL women, not just those who are artistic or into rocket science. Seeing women succeed in traditionally male-dominated fields is super inspiring-we know how many hurdles they jumped on the way there. But not all girls are into math or riot grrrl punk, and that’s totally okay too. Preferring manicures to math doesn’t make someone less worthy of respect. Kim’s femininity is not anti-feminist.
So the girl’s probably not a genius but let’s face it-most of us aren’t. If Kim is really just an average girl, then it’s pretty damn impressive how she transformed herself into a $53 million household name. And it’s not as if she hasn’t done anything for the greater good; just take a look at the charitable organisations she regularly promotes and donates to, it’s something the media probably isn’t telling you. Sure, she had the Head Start Trifecta: money, a famous daddy and conventionally attractive features. But not everyone born into those privileges becomes a cultural icon. As feminists, isn’t it at least a little bit intriguing how this woman come to power?
“Well, I could be famous if I made a sex tape/had a big ass/posted nudes too.” someone is bound to argue.
Kim Kardashian Superstar, her “leaked” sex tape (which is widely believed to be a publicity stunt), is still a popular cheap shot, along with her habit for sexy photo shoots. I, however, find it one of the most exciting things about how Kim does business. She’s well-aware of being perceived as a sex symbol, but she’s a) ecstatic about it and b) smart enough to use it to her advantage, neither of which most of us expected.
A couple of weeks ago, Kim shared yet another nude portrait, a throwback to last year’s fitter figure, carefully censored by two black bars to appease Instagram. Most of the backlash against it was Slut Shaming Exhibits A-Z, but Chloe Grace Moretz, possibly with good intentions, called Kim out on Twitter, telling her to “realize how important setting goals are for young women, teaching them we have so much more to offer than our bodies.” (Later, she stated that she did not “intend” to slut shame.)
Consider this, though, Chloe: Kim likes taking nude pictures. And by jumping to (overwhelmingly negative) conclusions about why people choose to post nude portraits, we disrespect them as people and encourage shame in regards to their body and sexuality.
Sure, it got her attention in the form of 1.6 million likes, but Kim’s photo was also personal, serving as motivation as she tries to lose weight after her second pregnancy. It’s not the only Instagram picture that has referenced body image either. Last year, amid weight criticisms, she flaunted her baby bump nude, asserting, “First they said I’m too skinny so I have to be faking it…Now they say I’m too big so I have to be faking it…SMH!…I’ve learned to love my body at every stage! I’m going to get even bigger & that’s beautiful too!”
Deep down, Kim’s detractors-and slut-shamers in general-are afraid of a woman in control of her own body, dismissing confidence and exhibitionism as attention-seeking and vain. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” Kim has said of her selfies. “I think there’s power in that and I think I have the control to put out what I want so even if I’m objectifying myself, I feel good about it.” Objectification is usually something that’s done to women through patriarchal culture. By willingly and proudly celebrating her body, Kim takes the power to objectify out of other people’s hands and into her own.
Don’t get me wrong, Kim Kardashian represents a lifestyle of selfishness and indulgence, neither of which sit right with me. But she’s not the one-dimensional “talentless media whore” that nasty comment sections like to claim. Kim has yet to become the proud voice of female empowerment that we all would like her to be – but feel free to hold your breath.
We’re reaching the point where Kim’s throne is firmly mounted enough so that she can start being a little controversial without falling. In response to her nude’s criticism, and in honor of International Women’s Day, she penned a concise open letter in which she fiercely declared, “It’s 2016. The body-shaming and slut-shaming—it’s like, enough is enough. I will not live my life dictated by the issues you have with my sexuality. You be you and let me be me.”
I don’t know about you, but that sounds empowering as fuck.
[Image via x]