How Kim Kardashian Is Prolonging the Plight of Women
For over a month I have been studying nudity in art for a research paper that I am writing, so when I saw that Kim Kardashian had posed bare for Paper magazine, I was intrigued. Although I have heard many people refer to the pictures as art, what I saw certainly was not. The pictures portrayed her as an object, rather than a person, perpetuating the view that women exist for male pleasure.
While it is true that Kim’s face is turned toward the camera in all of the photos, adding some humanity, her bottom is the primary focus. Furthermore, her body is covered in oil, an effect that doesn’t really point to her personhood, no matter how you construe it. Unfortunately, these pictures minimize women to their bodies. People may call them art, but they clearly transgress its boundaries.
Consequently, these images reinforce the idea that women are just pretty things to be looked at, possessing neither substance nor depth. This propagates our culture’s belief that women are defined by their busts and butts. As girls hear and internalize this message, the effects can be devastating. They begin to place their worth in trivial standards such as their weight or the flatness of their stomachs.
Kim Kardashian’s latest exploit tells girls that they need to have exaggerated hourglass figures with massive breasts and even larger posteriors, washboard abs, hairless skin, and spotless complexions complemented by sun-kissed (sun-raped?) skin. Some girls might possess a few of these attributes, but most simply don’t have them in their DNA. Trying to force the impossible could come at a serious costs to health and self-esteem.
The American Psychological Association has found that when girls are exposed to images that objectify the female body, their cognitive abilities are diminished. In fact, exposure can even influence choices concerning career paths, causing girls to avoid scientific and mathematical fields. Additionally, these girls often experience shame, depression, and low self-esteem.
However, it is not just girls who suffer. When male undergraduates were exposed to images that objectify women, it actually led to higher levels of acceptance of rape myths. Furthermore, males who had seen sexually explicit films were more likely to rate women as less intelligent than their counterparts who had not been exposed to the films.
Kim Kardashian is already benefitting from her photos, but she is doing so at a cost to society. Her popularity has spiked once again, but with detrimental effects. Her pictures do nothing to empower women. Instead, they prolong the plight of women. They create a negative environment for women to live in, and they will likely adversely influence countless girls.
Whatever benefit Kim is experiencing, it is costly. Hopefully, she won’t remain in the limelight for long. From her exploitative clothing line to this new escapade, Kim Kardashian seems content to profit from the misfortune and detriment of others. If you care about women, I hope that you will not be content to sit on the sidelines and watch the debacle.