A Letter To Readers From The "Stupid" Woman Who Writes About Kim Kardashian 5 years ago

A Letter To Readers From The "Stupid" Woman Who Writes About Kim Kardashian

"Plus-size Mum-Of-Two Blasts Body-Shamers After Sharing (Almost) Naked Body-Positive Selfie."

Maybe this is how I should have headlined this morning’s article about Kim Kardashian.

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It would have gone down well on site – people love stories that champion body diversity, self-love, women and - let’s face it - nakedness.

When it comes to views, the headline I went with, Kim Kardashian Blasts “Body-Shaming and Slut-Shaming” In Brilliantly Honest Essay, was an uproarious success.

Disappointingly, the reaction on Facebook was overwhelmingly negative.

I'm used to being called "stupid"  for writing about the Kardashians, but today, it pissed me off.

My alternative headline, above, is unfortunately accurate – according to catwalk and US fashion industry standards, Kim is STILL considered plus size.

We have come on leaps and bounds when it comes to celebrating body diversity, but we’re still not there.

Feminism is having a moment. Issues around breastfeeding, 'freeing the nipple', menstruation, body diversity, abortion, and reproduction are red-hot.

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The latest wave is a big one, but in order to make sure it stays on the shore this time, there can’t be one rule for one woman, and another for the next.

In order to break down barriers, we need to let everyone through.

Issues around female sexuality and body image are fraught on a global scale, but particularly tricky in Ireland.

I wrote in a previous article about sex shaming that we are still shaking off our catholic hangover. In Ireland, issues around sex have long been monitored by the moral authority of celibate men who told us masturbation is bad, contraception worse and divorce a sin.

Our social institutions have endeavoured to rein in our sexual expression through a variety of mechanisms - outlawing same-sex relationships, championing female chastity and shaming female sexuality - to ensure continuance of male social, political and economic dominance.

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We are taking huge strides when it comes to breaking this pattern, but it’s understandable that sometimes that old “nakedness is bad” mentality creeps back in for a second.

Kim Kardashian may well have done this for attention and for an ego boost, and may well be a celebrity off the back of a sex tape.

She could well have jumped on the “empowerment” bandwagon retrospectively after the selfie received backlash, but that’s not the point.

The point is she's not "meaningless". Her story isn't "meaningless".

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I wouldn’t post a naked selfie to Instagram, but I also wouldn’t go to a topless lunch in aid of #freethenipple, or post a photo of my menstrual blood to Instagram.

I support the message behind all three, despite them jarring with my personal tastes in varying degrees.

I recognise that we are treading an unknown path. Body acceptance and freedom of sexuality are still new to us, and I am not going to judge another woman’s journey if we all have the same destination in our sights.

I’m not going to police social media and decide that it’s okay for Kate Moss to be naked, but not for Kim Kardashian. Or that one woman can be naked because she has a scar or a colostomy bag, but that the woman beside her is too “generically beautiful” to share her body.

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I’m not going to comment #freethenipple under one censored image, and write “this is disgusting” under another.

Readers wondered why Kim felt she needed to be naked in order to endorse female empowerment when women like Emma Watson can "do it using their minds."

Emma Watson is a well-educated, intelligent woman who does great work. She has also posed for photoshoots wearing sheer clothes through which her nipples were clearly visible.

Having a body and a mind are not mutually exclusive.

Kim Kardashian is probably not equipped with the same skills that Emma Watson is when it comes to public speaking and academia… but since when do we bash women for this?

Of course I don’t think women should be viewed as “pieces of ass” or judged based on their looks.

I do, however, think that sex and beauty are largely a woman’s domain, and that sex dictates many of our daily social transactions.

Therefore we should own it.

When it comes to issues of consent, we shout that just because a girl shows some skin and has a few drinks on a night out doesn’t mean she wants sex. But in the same breath we condemn a woman openly embracing her sexuality.

Can you spot the disconnect?

We slam the media for promoting unhealthy body images, placing too much emphasis on female aesthetics and for a lack of racial diversity.

In 2014, only 19% of models who walked runways were women of colour. For the most part, the runways in each city were, on average, 83% white.

A study conducted by the University of Leipzig, Germany found that among obese women, 33% exhibited signs of suicidal behaviour and 27% attempted suicide.

Like it or not, and (importantly) whether she knows it or not, Kim Kardashian is breaking unhealthy moulds.

I understand why as a reader you would baulk at Kim’s naked selfie before you would baulk at Kate Moss’ or the postpartum woman’s.

But maybe take a second to let your reaction sink in, question yourself, and wonder if your comment is going to serve women’s cause or hinder it.

Maybe you don't find it "empowering". Maybe, like one reader, you look to examples like Kathrine Switzer who was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon in 1967 and physically fought off men who tried to stop her (thankfully we've come a long way). That's cool, celebrate those women.

But ask yourself if branding a woman who shared a selfie "meaningless" is helpful.

Mentally add your comment to the narrative of female sexual repression that we are just starting to shake off.

What purpose does it serve?