March 2016: Revolutionary Women / sexism / stereotypes / topical

Dissecting The Sexism Behind Kim K's Naked Photo Reactions

Last week, Kim Kardashian West managed to break the internet yet again when she shared a throwback nude mirror selfie on her Instagram. Naturally, her full frontal display, although somewhat censored, has sparked mass debate online; targeting Kim as a mother, a 35 year old woman and her success as a business woman. With this in mind, I thought I’d take the opportunity to breakdown my thoughts on the matter.

“She’s attention seeking”

One of the arguments that seems to keep surfacing is that Kim is simply attention seeking and goading a reaction. This to me seems utterly ridiculous because it’s obvious – of course she is. But don’t we all? When we share a selfie online or even a risky photo in private with a partner, are we not hoping for a reaction? Are we not looking for some kind of validation in the form of likes and comments? And let’s face it, whether you find Kim attractive or not, we all have days when we feel good about ourselves and sometimes good enough to snap a pic and share it with the world. Furthermore, with the blacked out areas blocking majority of her body anyway, realistically, we can only see areas we’d see had she been wearing a bikini and yet it is the illusion of nudity that offends us.

Whether we’re clothed or not, it’s an expression of how we’re feeling at the time. Some of us feel happy to share images in our underwear or nude and some of us don’t – but each to their own. Have we not all done the same thing in one way or another?

“She doesn’t even have any talent”

This one annoys me the most. For someone who “doesn’t have any talent” she’s done an excellent job of turning ‘Kardashian’ into an $80 million brand. Clearly,  she’s doing something right. And yes, I’ll admit Kim has managed to gain fame based on a very small skill set but the fact is, she’s done it and she’s managed to maintain it for a career spanning more than 10 years. Many people forget that Kim was in the spotlight long before her sex tape. Daughter to Robert Kardashian, OJ Simpson’s legal team, the Kardashian name was in the media long before Kim. Furthermore, having attended school with the likes of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, it’s hardly surprising that she was so quickly scouted for modelling when she appeared on the red carpet with her class mates.

The fact is, Kim has never claimed to be anything she’s not. She doesn’t claim to be talented actress or a singer yet the media are constantly knocking her down for her “lack of talent.” It’s all too easy to knock someone’s success and what a lot of people don’t realise about fame is that we give celebrities that exposure. As spectators, the success of a celebrity or product is dependent on us and works on a supply and demand basis – if we keep wanting it, it’ll keep coming. Much like if we like a musical artist, we’ll keep them rich by buying their records. Simply put, we keep investing in Kim. The more we demand, the longer she’ll continue to slay so whatever her talent is, it’s working.

“She’s a mother”

Another argument used against Kim and the likes of Amber Rose, Madonna or even Beyoncé is that she’s a mother. But what does that mean exactly? Is someone who’s a mother no longer allowed to show some skin? Does it mean it’s now time to hide away and don a full length, beige robe? Whilst Kim is a mother and, having been in the spotlight all her life, one day she will no doubt have to have a talk with her children as all parents do. But do we punish Angelina Jolie for her nudity in films? As a society, I feel we are too quick to call someone out and bad-mouth their confidence or punish their sexuality because they have children. I believe you can be a mother and you can be more than that also. Kim is a mother but she’s also a bad-ass business woman, a model, a TV star and a wife. Furthermore, why is this same value not applied to fathers? Which leads me nicely on to my next point…

Would we be as offended if it were a male nude?

Also blowing up online recently was Tom Hardy stripping naked for a new role. The images were shared pretty everywhere from the Sun to the Daily Mail and your Tumblr feed. Whilst I’m certainly not complaining by any means, why has Kim’s body sparked outrage whilst Tom’s is celebrated? Tom is also a parent, yet no one is questioning his moral stance. From the images posted online, we see far more of Tom then we do of Kim. This, to me, is incomprehensible.

“She’s too old”

It is not only your gender that is considered when posing nude, but your age as well. Piers Morgan recently released an article entitled: “You’ve still got a great body Kim, but if you’re really so successful, so secure and so rich why do you still feel the need to pose nude at 35?”. For me, this headline sums up everything that’s wrong with the media representation of women at present. The fact of the matter is that her bank balance, self-worth and age shouldn’t be an issue. Whilst some headlines claim that Kim is clinging on to her youth out of fear of being overshadowed by her beautiful half-sisters, Kendal and Kylie Jenner, why is it okay for a 40-something year old Matthew McConaughey to appear naked in Magic Mike but it’s questioned when a 35 year old women shares a nude selfie? Let’s face it, Kim looks incredible so why the hell not? Are we forgetting the likes of Elle McPherson (now 47), Naomi Campbell (45) and Gisele Bunchen (also 35) who still sharing their bikini shots and exposed bodies with (rightfully) no backlash? Did we not all rejoice at Helen Mirren in a bikini, praising her for her boldness and great figure at 65? Why is this any different?

She’s owning it.

Despite all the backlash, there have also been plenty of comments congratulating Kim on a cracking bod and more importantly, her right to her body and liberation. In response to the many celebrities who felt the need to comment on Twitter, Kim has been batting them off with a homerun. She’s confident in herself, the ownership of her body, her freedom as a woman and best of all, she’s unapologetic for all of it. Whether you like her or not, we can all agree she’s owning it.

– Sophie Athawes (


3 thoughts on “Dissecting The Sexism Behind Kim K's Naked Photo Reactions

  1. Yes to this. I have had friends from university saying she is a terrible person/role model/ mother as a result of these pictures and just . . . no. You might think those things already (and when prompted it turns out they did) but these pictures tell us NOTHING about her as a person, besides the fact she has a great body and body confidence. Neither of which is something to be ashamed of.


  2. Sioban, I know exactly what you mean. I’ve had people say similar things to me about her being a bad person – personally I don’t think her taking a photo means she does bad things to people. I also don’t think it’s about anyone else, it’s about her and her expressing herself. If no one wants to see it, don’t follow her haha x


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