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#BreakTheInternet Misses the Mark

This week’s Media Monday comes to us from volunteer blog contributor Tori Sundholm, an English literature and journalism student at Bethel University. Thanks, Tori!

If you’d like to write for our blog, please email Juila at julia.birdsall@emilyprogramfoundation.org

 

Have you heard?

Kim Kardashian broke the Internet.

Click through for more photos (some containing nudity- NSFW) and an analysis of this image in a historical and racial context

 

On Nov. 11, Kim Kardashian posted a nude photo of herself with the hashtag #BreakTheInternet to her Instagram and Twitter accounts, which sparked a wide range of emotions from the public. Although Kardashian’s controversial nude photo for Paper Magazine is no longer breaking news, a new buzz concerning the pictures breaks almost daily. People are still trying to figure out how to react to Kardashian’s newest media outburst.

The response to these photos has been widely diverse. Piers Morgan praised Kardashian in an article he posted on Daily Mail Online on Nov. 11, saying he, “found her to be warm, unpretentious, honest and rather charming young lady.” Morgan supported Kardashian by saying she always presents her true self and she is laughing at her critics all the way to the bank. E! News continues to post online articles defending Kardashian’s decision to pose nude. A recent article posted by E! calls out a New York Times journalist who falsely quoted Kanye West in an article titled “Fear of Kim Kardashian’s Derrière.” At the end of E!’s article is a call to celebrate all types of bodies. But Kardashian’s nude photos don’t celebrate diverse body types. Instead, Kardashian celebrates an idealized body all women are supposed to have, but one which can only be achieved through editing.

Paper Magazine’s editor Mickey Boardman admitted the final photos used for the magazine were edited. “But, yes, there was retouching to clean things up and make things look amazing. That’s what retouching is,” Boardman said. This confuses me. What does “make things look amazing” mean? I don’t understand why the media continually presents bodies with their flaws removed. Somehow we as viewers convince ourselves to believe these images, which can send self-confidence spiraling downward. I want to see a high fashion photo shoot with flaws included. People are amazing when they are their true selves, cellulite, birth marks, pimples and all.

In his Daily Mail Online article, Piers asked why Kardashian is lambasted when she poses for the highly acclaimed French photographer Jean-Paul Goude. This is a silly question to me. She is lambasted because she is continually regarded as a brilliant icon just for taking her clothes off. She is lambasted because of her wide range of influence, which she could use to promote positive body image and positive sexuality, but she continues to promote a bronzed and edited idea of beauty.

Maybe one of the most noteworthy critics of body image comes from Tina Fey’s writing over three years ago in her book “Bossy Pants.” Time posted an article on Nov. 13 quoting Fey’s previous comments on the idea of curvy as sexy. Time calls for the buzz around Kardashian’s newest photos to come to an end by using Fey’s spot on analysis of expectations for a feminized body. [We at the Foundation have used this awesome quote before in a Media Monday blog, too! You can find that post here.]

But I think the first real change in women’s body image came when JLo turned it butt-style. That was the first time that having a large-scale situation in the back was part of mainstream American beauty. Girls wanted butts now. Men were free to admit that they had always enjoyed them. And then, what felt like moments later, boom—Beyoncé brought the leg meat. A back porch and thick muscular legs were now widely admired. And from that day forward, women embraced their diversity and realized that all shapes and sizes are beautiful.

Ah ha ha. No. I’m totally messing with you. All Beyonce and JLo have done is add to the laundry list of attributes women must have to qualify as beautiful. Now every girl is expected to have :

Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits.

The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.

The importance of Fey’s quote isn’t in her hilarious Kim Kardashian reference. Rather, this reference makes the quote relevant. The real important meat of Fey’s quote comes in the “laundry list” of qualities feminized folks need in order to be considered beautiful. Nobody encompasses all these qualities, nobody ever will. Kim Kardashian may claim she advocates for a healthy body, but what she actually advocates is something totally different – to be perfect is to airbrushed and to be beautiful is to have a large butt with a tiny waist. This makes people with perfectly healthy curvy bodies hide in shame from their cellulite or a small roll in their side, while people with petite bodies wish they had a different shape.


Imagine the influence Kim Kardashian could have if she truly used her platform for positive body image and self-confidence. If posing naked, while being paint brushed to “perfection” on the editing side, creates positive body image, I must be missing something.

 

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