In early April, Khloe Kardashian took to Instagram to post a picture in her bikini, showing off her toned, sunbathed figure to her 137m followers. Shortly after, a separate photo was released, showing the 36-year-old standing by a pool in a different leopard-print bikini with unedited, natural lighting.
Though photos are often “leaked” with the intention of showing a cold reality, many were left perplexed over the intent. The unedited photo simply showed…a normal female body – leading to a more important conversation about how modern expectations for women are outrageous.
Compare it to the version she posted on her social media...
The Aftermath of Khloe Kardashian’s Leaked Photo
In a heartfelt and honest post that followed the photo leak, Khloe opened up about her struggles with being branded the “fat” and “ugly” sister for years, explaining how body image has been a long, never-ending struggle. She did not deny editing her photos, she even went as far as to own it, stating her body image is how she “chooses” to look and that what she shares is “her choice.”
Khloe further talked about the impossible standards set by the public, leaving her unable to be who she is. Being a Kardashian rarely leaves you the opportunity to be an individual – you’re repeatedly competing against your family members, whether you wish to or not.
Khloe opened up about her struggles with being branded the “fat” and “ugly” sister for years.
It’s difficult for her to have any privacy, as even her personal relationships have become a place for public discussion. This was especially evident in recent years with Tristan Thompson’s affair, leaving her heartbreak and betrayal up for public discussion.
For years, Khloe has worked hard to achieve her figure, even working with others on her show “Revenge Body” to help those struggling with their weight to achieve weight loss goals with her. With her recent post of unedited videos, she proves what many of us already know – that she’s a healthy, beautiful, and perfectly normal human being.
We all have our “bad” moments and things we’d hate to be made public even to just our friends, so to have images that make you feel uncomfortable for millions to see is a feeling most of us will never know – in Khloe’s life every tiny flaw she has is up for scrutiny. Celebrities may show off “perfect” lives on their social media, but they will never have the small blisses you and I take for granted every day.
Contributing to Unrealistic Body Standards or Subject to Them?
It can be argued that by contributing to this culture of editing, Khloe is setting an unrealistic standard for young girls, but the majority of young girls (or anyone, for that matter) do not have 137 million Instagram followers. Anyone in this harsh limelight would attempt to perfect each and every detail of their life if they could.
What struck me the most was the brutality that followed Khloe’s photo release. Across online forums, people were quick to brand her as “ugly” and “disgusting,” yet the photo simply shows a normal body, leaving many to ask what kind of standard we’re actually giving young women.
Anyone in the harsh limelight of millions would attempt to perfect every detail if they could.
Some can’t help but sympathize with Khloe. As she said in her Instagram post, everything she does is scrutinized and berated on the internet by strangers – to the point where she has found it necessary to edit her pictures in the first place. The fact Khloe felt the need to edit herself to that level proves how brutal and shallow others can be. The internet is often a nasty and judgmental place, and women are left managing every detail of themselves, desperate to mask flaws out of fear of unkind eyes.
Some would say Khloe and many other celebrities perpetuate an “unrealistic” body type – but what is a “realistic” body type? We’re all individuals, women come in all shapes and sizes. This idea of a “realistic” body type by body positivity movements have long guilted women who don’t fit their idea of what’s acceptable or realistic. Instead of accepting that we’re all different, women are often shamed that confidence in their own body makes someone else insecure about theirs.
How Celebrity Culture Pressures Women
Khloe Kardashian is just one of many celebrities left to face the overly harsh critique of mainstream and social media. Along with criticism, she also faces the same problems suffered by women in group settings. Today, many women, especially those in the public eye, are left to compete with their peers due to insecurity.
A few months ago, singer Jesy Nelson announced that she was leaving the worldwide successful girl band “Little Mix.” This followed years of her openness about her struggles of being pinned against her bandmates by the media, always being branded the “biggest” and “ugliest” of the four girls – all of whom are equally beautiful and talented.
Jesy even released a documentary where she discussed her struggles, going as far as to open up about being suicidal during the band’s peak, the public scrutiny becoming too much for her to handle. Even after drastic weight loss, Jesy was still subject to online trolls, who continued to eagerly bash her body – one that’s perfectly normal and healthy.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Body Dysmorphic Disorder affects 1.7% to 2.9% of the general population. That’s about 1 in 50 people, meaning that more than 5-10 million people in the United States alone have BDD. It’s still not well-known in “mainstream” discussions regarding mental health, despite being more common than eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and schizophrenia.
With cosmetic surgery growing and becoming more normalized, BDD often goes ignored.
About 1 in 50 people suffer from body dysmorphic disorder.
Body insecurities today have become so normalized, even personally, I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman in my life who didn’t have countless negative things to say about her own body.
Up to 12% of patients seen by dermatologists, along with up to 15% of patients seeking cosmetic surgery, meet the criteria for BDD. Regardless of mental health issues, plastic surgeons will rarely turn these women away. Even if they see inner demons, people are eager to make money out of anything. If more women hate themselves, many of these industries will thrive. It’s another cold, harsh reality of our time.
Aesthetic-centered depression continues to rise throughout the younger generation of women. Rising BDD rates just further prove that our expectations for women have become too harsh. Women shouldn’t feel the need to be “perfect” – perfection doesn’t exist. We have all become so eager to subject ourselves to a specific beauty standard that we’ve lost what makes us unique.
Society seems eager to “sculpt” women to perfection, hurting more around us than we know. It’s easy to forget that the people we see online are human and Khloe Kardashian is just one of many – someone with personal struggles, another celebrity eager to appease the masses but scrutinized by them regardless.
She should never feel the need to prove herself to strangers, and neither should anyone else.
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