What’s the appropriate response to Kim Kardashian West’s Paper Cover?

It’s becoming difficult to find anyone who hasn’t seen Kim Kardashian West’s Paper magazine cover. The aim appeared to be to ‘break the internet’ and although it may have fallen short of that, it certainly has got everyone talking. The first few images were relatively tame but several more images were released showing Kim revealing a bit more skin and her decision to do so has garnered a mixed response online. With people both condemning and praising Kim’s decision to bare all for the shoot, what exactly is the appropriate response to something like this?

Quite a number of people have voiced the opinion that she shouldn’t have done the cover on account of the fact that she is now a mother. I admit that I can sort of see where this opinion comes from, after all who of us would be happy finding a naked photo of one of your parents online regardless of how old you were when it was taken. However, when reading these comments the worry seemed to be less of potential embarrassment for North and more that people were concerned that Kim was stepping outside of what is expected in motherhood. To these people, it seemed that motherhood should be followed by a repression of any sexuality. She may have a child now, but why should parenthood mean that women are no longer allowed to be sexual?

It’s also interesting to note that Kiera Knightley recently posed topless for Interview magazine and gained a very different public reaction. Even Kim’s arguably most tame nude photo from the shoot, which only showed her from behind, triggered a horde of slut shaming. Although the Interview shoot didn’t generate as much attention as Paper’s, the responses to Kiera’s image were mainly positive and raises the question why one is seen as empowering and artistic and the other as purely attention seeking. One major difference between the two women is their body shapes. Kim has a voluptuous figure and therefore it is easier for the media to sexualise. Kiera’s body looks different to the female nudity that is more readily available and therefore her images may be seen to make a more powerful statement.

Among the negative comments to do with what women can and can’t do with their sexuality, Kim’s sex tape has also been brought into the argument more than once. People seem to be struggling to realise that someone making a choice to pose nude for a photo is completely different to a private video being widely spread without their permission. The fact that a celebrity chooses to go nude for a photo shoot or film does not in any way make any previous nudity distributed without consent suddenly acceptable.

People take different things from these photos and it’s difficult to argue who is right and who is wrong, or even if there is a right or wrong answer. If people see this as empowering and find it gives them confidence in their own body then that’s great, and if people don’t like the photos then that’s fine too. What’s never fine is slut shaming a person for the choices they makes with their own body.


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January 2022
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