We’ve all been there haven’t we, a photo gets taken of us and although no one else can see it, you hate it and feel a slight embarrassment at not looking your best. This is a very small scale vanity that we know is there but something that thankfully that does not affect our everyday life…For me, getting tagged in a photo where I look silly or is unflattering might give me that momentary rush of ‘oh fuck’ is usually just accepted as a photo of me not looking my best and I move on. I suppose I am quite lucky that I am confident in my own skin, I am also 35 and whilst I have seen the emergence of social media and always been subjected to an onslaught of photoshopped models and insta “influencers” I am mercifully old enough to remember life before this ‘normality’.
The last couple of days I have been reading with sadness the backlash behind Khloe Kardashian and her attempt to erase an unedited, unflattering photo from the internet. Citing copyright ownership she wants this photo of her to disappear from the web – an impossible task especially as the more noise she makes the more shares the photo gets. I am not a fan of the Kardashians, I am actually staunchly against the promotion of their impossible, unachievable body norms that they as a family endorse. Having an older head I know that their photos, alongside many other influencers, are highly edited, photoshopped and filtered to the max. Their image is their business therefore every post builds their brand and increases their wealth. Photos would never just be ‘pinged’ up for the masses. There will be a whole team behind every single post, every single ‘ad’ every like, every comment. They are also aided by huge amounts of money to obtain their ‘flawless’ bodies and faces – personal trainers, dieticians and the ability to buy the best produce to put in their bodies. The whole family is also highly likely to have had other more invasive help with achieving these bodies and faces. This is absolutely there right and they can live their lives exactly how they see fit, however I find their lack of transparency worrying when posting these edited snapshots as the onslaught of this kind of body image severely damages a whole generation of men and women who strive to achieve the unachievable. It has also shown how very damaging it is to their individual mental health also.
Apparently it was a member of her PR team that ‘accidentally’ posted this unedited photo of her after a lack of clarity about what was supposed to be posted – highlighting just how many people are behind this Instagram account and how contrived and staged every single post must be. I saw the photo in question and I could not see the problem. She looked normal, not laying or standing in an uncomfortable pose orchestrated to make her look skinnier or to highlight her curves, it was just a photo of woman enjoying the sunshine smiling naturally at the camera. Her upset at this raw image shows an insecurity that has obviously been born out of 10+ years intense media scrutiny. The media LOVES to write about this family, they are cannon fodder for tabloid journalism and gossip mags, if they are mentioned a whole audience flocks to the article. The media also loves to belittle and bully them, there is a shared enjoyment of any failing or potentially embarrassing situation. The headlines of this particular story imply that she is waging war on the internet, claiming legal copyright of this picture and ‘demanding’ the removal of the image. She is being painted as a hysterical vain woman who is using her notoriety to remove a picture that by and large is absolutely fine.
The Kardashians, like many other reality TV regulars and influencers, perpetuate impossible beauty standards and endorse a dangerous diet culture which is incredibly damaging to insecure followers and fans. Once you pick apart this story you actually realise how desperately sad it is – this is a woman who on one hand whole heartedly endorses this unachievable level of body perfection and is on the other hand a complete prisoner of it. Ultimately, what I see is a deeply insecure woman who has endured years of scrutiny, backlash and ridicule from the media about her appearance. She was often labelled the fat ugly Kardashian, her worth has always been measured by her looks and how she compares with her sisters. That fear of scrutiny has resulted in her wanting to maintain an unhealthy level of control over what is shown to the world. This must put a lot of undue stress on the mental well being of a person. She most certainly doesn’t deserve the ridicule that she is receiving, however silly it may appear, this is an unhealthy and worrying stress response to years of body shaming. Her response sadly perpetuates the idea that this reaction is normal and her irrational removal of the photo further perpetuates this merry round of narcissism and solidifies her participation within it.
The use of photo editing and airbrushing is dangerous to the mental well being of many people influenced by these images. The production of any edited photos should at the very least be disclosed. Producers should be honest and direct in exactly what level of work has been done to achieve these photos. As a mother I do not want my children to be subjected to this level of vanity and unobtainable body types. We should be able to see clearly what is real and what is fake. We should also stop measuring a females worth on their appearance it is grossly insulting and undermines a females true worth – we are more than our looks or our bodies. It is time we started celebrating this.