By Kate McCormick
The beauty standard is constantly changing and evolving based on what our society begins to focus on, and celebrities play a huge role in what’s ‘trending.’ One such family, who has built an empire off public appearance and marketing to the beauty standard, is the Kardashians. This week, Khloé Kardashian has been at the center of the body image conversation after an unintentional poolside photo of her leaked on social media.
While I can empathize with Khloé Kardashian’s photo fiasco and wouldn’t want to trivialize another person’s insecurities, it’s also important to recognize the contributions that she, and her family, have made to body-image culture. Has she not fallen victim to the warped beauty ‘standard’ that she has helped to uphold?
The Kardashians have always been at the center of the body conversation, from plastic surgery allegations to advertising detox teas and intense photoshopping. The phrase ‘nothing you see on the internet is real’ could not ring truer, especially in the conversation surrounding body image, when ordinary people compare themselves to images of celebrities who have access to expensive plastic surgery procedures, professional photo editors, personal chefs and skilled trainers.
There is nothing wrong with having a procedure done to make yourself more comfortable on your journey to self-love; there is nothing wrong with wanting to eat better or work out to meet a goal. There is something wrong with passing off these behaviors and their results as completely and equally attainable to all people.
It is so harmful, and yet so easy, to look at photos of celebrities and not consider the luxury of time, money and even genetics, that feeds into their appearance. We need to stop operating off of this false narrative that the beauty standard is attainable, because it isn’t.
The beauty standard is a myth, ingrained so deeply in our culture, meant to feed on insecurities — predominantly of women — to sell whatever magic product will make us look like we belong on the cover of magazines and, in turn, line the pockets of corporations until it is time to move on to the next aesthetic.
Bodies are not, and should not, be trends.
Khloé Kardashian, a cis-gendered, straight, rich, able-bodied white woman has been conditioned to act so strictly within these confines of societal pressures, so, now imagine how these pressures are exacerbated in the experiences of trans women, plus-sized women, women without celebrity budgets, disabled women and women of color.
The conversation surrounding body image, especially in this case, is a double-edged sword. While of course I feel sympathy for Khloé Kardashian having an unwanted photo leaked, it is also necessary to consider how she and other celebrities are responsible for upholding harmful and toxic aspects of beauty culture, whether it is intentional or not.