Khloe Kardashian and toxic beauty standards

Last week an unfiltered image of Khloe Kardashian posing in a bikini was accidentally posted online. Her response: to get lawyers involved. Anybody who shared the image could find themselves threatened with legal action and all websites that had posted the image were instructed to remove it. She later also posted an unedited video of her body alongside a four-page explanation as to why she took such drastic matters to remove as much trace of this photo as she could.

As you can imagine, responses to Khloe’s reaction have been mixed.

Many have defended the Kardashian sister, sympathising with her desire to take back control of an image posted online without her consent. Considerable numbers have also said that they can relate – arguing that they have told friends to remove images if they didn’t like how they looked. Khloe has spoken out in the past about her body insecurities, admitting numerous times to being self-conscious about her weight and height. In the four-page post uploaded to her Instagram, she mentioned once again that the pressure to look perfect her entire life has been “too much to bear”. If we all had millions of people commenting on how we looked, surely, we too would all be at least a little more conscious of what we put online?

And yet, how does this response influence others’ relationships with their bodies? Khloe’s post was probably seen by most of her staggeringly large Instagram following – the majority of which are young women. Khloe rather dangerously, through taking such extreme measures to curate a pretty unachievable body image, is perpetuating the idea that anything less than perfect is not good enough, and ultimately, should not be seen. Furthermore, a substantial number of the comments left on Khloe’s images came from those that said they would love to have the body that she is insecure about. There were, after all, absolutely no ‘flaws’ visible; her unfiltered body looked completely healthy.

Another point of argument has been raised in regards to the Kardashians making millions under the guise of body positivity throughout their careers. Khloe, along with the other sisters, has in the past promoted products such as fit teas, waist trainers, and diet supplements. Despite this, the brand Good American, co-founded by Khloe, preaches total body inclusivity. After this recent incident, it is clearer than ever that Khloe is both a victim to the pressures of beauty standards, whilst simultaneously also promoting them.

 I do not believe that Khloe’s response was the best way to handle the situation, though I can most definitely understand why she did react in such an intense manner. I also realise it is very easy for me to say this when I post to less than 1000 followers – I’m not exactly under the same amount of pressure. However, it is difficult to ignore the fact that this could have been an opportunity for the Kardashian sister to promote body positivity in a way that showed vulnerability, and potentially helped millions of followers to feel more confident in themselves. If Khloe had been comfortable enough to let this image ‘tarnish’ her perfectly curated image online, she could have inspired others to stand up to the harmful beauty standards that we are faced with each day. Instead, her response unfortunately fed into toxic beauty and social media cultures.

Khloe Kardashian is a victim of societal expectations. But, she is also a significant contributor to the issue itself. Until more celebrities and influencers begin to post unfiltered, unedited photographs of themselves, Instagram will sadly remain a breeding ground of insecurities for many. We can only hope that as more users of the platform advocate for body inclusivity and acceptance, occurrences such as this will become something of the past.

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Elizabeth Woor

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October 2021
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