Recently, an unretouched photo of Khloe Kardashian was leaked and posted on social media against her consent . The photo depicts Kardashian relaxed, in a leopard print bikini, and without her hair or makeup done. The unretouched photo displays Kardashian in such a natural way that it is almost shocking in comparison to other depictions of her appearance in photos and on television.
Following the unauthorized release of her photo, Kardashian demanded that it be taken down, but the leakage of the photo has already made waves online.
So, what can we learn from this situation with Khloe Kardashian?
Well, for one thing, diet culture and fatphobia , which include the total critiquing of various aspects of one’s bodily image, don’t discriminate against those who profit from the culture, such as the Kardashians.
Khloe herself is the host of the television series “Revenge Body” which focuses on helping individuals alter their appearance as a way of getting “revenge” on those who have done them wrong by “showing them what they are missing.”
In her show, she works with a team of personal trainers and professionals in the beauty industry to assist two people change their bodies in order to gain validity and confidence. The premise of her show itself advocates for diet culture and fatphobia by implying that unless you look a certain way, you have no value. This view is why Kardashian’s leaked photo is such a controversy, because in it she appears without the extensive hair and makeup looks that she advocates for, and her body is displayed unretouched. This derails the Kardashian family’s entire industry as it is so focused on the perception of looking unattainable in such a way that others find themselves wanting the ideal they have constructed, while being unable to achieve such an image without the cleanses, diets, procedures, products, etc., that the family themselves advocate for.
What we can take away from this situation is that diet culture and fatphobia aren’t friends of anyone, whether you are an advocate for them or not. Everyone is affected.
Diet culture and fatphobia have long been a part of our lives, but they have become so ingrained in our collective psyche that they oftentimes become unrecognizable. This is because fatphobia and diet culture have become so acceptable in just about every way that we hardly recognize them as unacceptable anymore. But just because they have become such hallmarks in the way that we view worth and value in relation to our bodies doesn’t mean that they are morally tolerable. Fatphobia harms individuals personally and professionally in such severe yet understated ways that lower a person’s quality of life, their access to opportunities and how they are valued in society and in relationships . In many places, it is still legal to deny an individual a job based on how they look, and individuals who are fat or plus-sized are often paid less than their equal counterparts. Kardashian’s situation itself shows us that you must look a certain way before you are seen positively in the public eye, and the unretouched stigma associated with Kardashian’s leaked photo is a biproduct of the discrimination in the beauty, diet and fitness industries.
While the photo being released against Kardashian’s will is extremely problematic as she has a right to her privacy, it has also given us a glimpse into the Kardashian’s natural life, and has connected us to her in a way that doesn’t make her so unreachable anymore. If more celebrities were to release unretouched photographs of themselves or be more willing to be seen naturally in public, we may begin a revolution that has the ability to take down the beauty and fitness industries as a whole.
Without feelings of inadequacy and yearning to look a certain way, the profit made by diet culture would plummet and it would begin to lose its power. This could be an essential step in eventually ridding of fatphobia in all aspects of society ; but until then, this conflict with Kardashian at least shows us that there is no safe place in the confines of diet culture and fat .
As someone who was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at an early age, which later evolved into bulimia nervosa , and as someone who now exists in a larger body that has changed numerous times in my life, I am constantly on alert when it comes to diet culture and fatphobia. Each meal and snack are a battle for me, and I frequently feel like I am at war with my body. Somehow my experience with eating disorders seems to be less important in society now than when I was in a smaller body, as though my experience then was more valid than it is now — all because of the way my body has evolved.
The battle inside of my mind is difficult enough to manage on a daily basis but being barraged by diet culture and fatphobia issues in the media and advertising oftentimes makes my fight unbearable. Accepting yourself and your body while battling an eating disorder in a world that would rather see you hate yourself and work to change your perceived “shortcomings” is a constant struggle- especially when my life has been a pattern of seeking “quick fix” after “quick fix” no matter their safety level.
That is why, for me, I certainly enjoy seeing diet culture and fatphobia being challenged by celebrities and those who have influence, whether it is intentional or not, as in the case of Khloe Kardashian. I do not condone what was done to Khloe Kardashian, but I can appreciate the ripple effects it is still having in the media. Kardashian may not know it, but there is no denying that the relaxed image of her behind the diets, exercise, procedures and beauty secrets that she advocates for is a sigh of relief that yes, we are all human.
I only wish that she could see the positive effects of her leaked photograph; but unfortunately, diet culture and fatphobia have taught her, like all of us, that we all should be ashamed of our bodies. But more than anything, what we should take away from this is that we should all work together in challenging diet culture and fatphobia, because diet culture and fatphobia safeguard no one — despite what society may tell you.
Originally published at https://themighty.com.