Kim Kardashian, image from www.allure.com
*Content warning: this post discusses eating disorders and may be triggering to some readers.*
You either love Kim Kardashian or hate her, but most people can admit the reality TV star has racked herself up enough criticism for a lifetime. However she sparked controversy again last year in a video with her sisters and her thanking them for complimenting her excessively small waist and general thinness.
Kendall Jenner (the highest paid model in 2018) made comments like “I’m really worried you aren’t eating” with Kim responding with “Omg thank you.” It didn’t even stop there. Khloe Kardashian (fitness guru and reality star) proceeded to say “You look anorexic here.”
The comments were slammed on the internet as inappropriate and disgusting. However this isn’t the first time this has happened, with Kate Moss’s “Nothing tastes better than being skinny” comment over a decade ago. Comments like these promote the endless ‘thinspo’ that has been real for decades. Kim K isn’t the only star who praises unachievable body types, lifestyles and diets. These comments aren’t just offensive to people who have suffered from such a severe mental illness such as anorexia which has the highest mortality rate of any other psychiatric disorder. They are offensive to young people and particularly young women.
Kim Kardashian, as problematic as she is, is undeniably one of the most influential women that young girls look up to. Her lifestyle is so far from what many can achieve with her personal trainers, never-ending wardrobes, personal chefs and million dollar beauty routines; she is completely out of touch and reach. However, so many women look up to her, for advice, inspiration and – arguably most damaging – beauty inspiration. Now what’s so harmful about this is that most people don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on facials, manicures, makeup artists, stylists and even plastic surgeons. But somehow our culture praises this kind of beauty. This never-ending upkeep of our bodies. And people are dying trying to achieve something they know they can never have.
This vapid void of anti-wrinkle, waist training, eyebrow threading, juice cleansing and lip injection obsession that we have just accepted as a way of life. That to be beautiful you have to look as close as you can as Kim Kardashian even if that costs this week’s paycheck and hours of your wasted time because, in the end, nothing seems more important than being pretty.
Kim Kardashian’s comments really hit home for me, along with many others, and I don’t know if it’s because I spent most of three years and counting battling anorexia nervosa and almost losing my life to it. Maybe I am biased because when I was looking ‘anorexic’ and ‘when I wasn’t eating’ I was attached to a heart rate monitor, wheelchair-bound and being fed through my nose. However I’m not the only one whose desire to be thin and to control my food almost ruined my life. What angers me is that many people have similar stories and the people we look up to are praising this unhealthy lifestyle and even laughing about it.
Because Kim, Kendall and Khloe I can assure you there is nothing lucky, funny or great about being so thin you can’t feel your heartbeat. Now, Kim Kardashian is not entirely to blame in this instance as she is just another woman who will most likely spend her whole life striving to please the unrealistic male gaze that is our culture and we can only partly blame her for this. I am sure Kim has had her fair share of body shamers and I am sure that although she is happy to pose naked on magazine covers she probably isn’t entirely happy with her body – because what woman is? But Kim doesn’t get a blank check to promote eating disorders and to spread a message to young women that basically says “hey girls don’t eat and you can look just like me.”
Evidently, Kim K can be as uneducated, insensitive and daft as people claim she is and I am not going to jump to her defence. Kim Kardashian may be another woman in the media who has been reduced to her body but with her recent comments, she hasn’t been completely innocent in the situation.
Kim’s fixation on her body, losing weight and perfecting her figure really does rub off on her young and impressionable fan base and admirers. Throughout my childhood even before I developed a full-blown eating disorder I, like many other girls growing up, battled with my body. I wondered if my thighs were too big, if my hair sat weird, if my nose was too big, if my stomach was flat enough and if I was ultimately pretty enough. When I became a bit older I found myself comparing my body to the women I saw on the silver screen. I wanted Taylor Swift’s legs, Gigi Hadid’s abs and Kim Kardashian’s boobs. When in reality I was a thirteen-year-old 5’1 developing young woman who didn’t even own mascara. I learnt very quickly that if I wanted to look like any of these women I was going to have to dedicate the majority of my life to it. And that’s how it went so downhill for me.
Now I am not saying that all women develop eating disorders from the constant celebrity culture that is infused into our everyday lives, and I am not even saying that Kim Kardashian’s comments about eating disorders will – but I want people to be aware. I want people like Kim, Kendall and Khloe to understand that they have so many young women looking up to them and if they are responsible they will respond to the criticism with an open heart because joking about anorexia isn’t funny – it’s deadly.
Eve is a year 11 student and member of the Fitzroy High School Feminist Collective. Eve was recently a part of running the 2019 Your voice conference and has been a guest speaker, a keynote and a panellist in many Femisnt events. Eve has a particular focus and interest in empowering young women to accept and love their bodies and also has strong ideas about rape culture, sexuality and feminist identity.
If this post was triggering or upsetting and you need help, support or just someone to talk to visit our page Support Services for a list of places you can contact.
If you think you or someone you know might be suffering from an disorder, you can find support by visiting the Butterfly Foundation website or the National Eating Disorder Collaboration website for more information on help in your local area.
To learn more about the different types of eating disorders and symptoms click here.