Is Kim Kardashian a positive role model?

Is Kim Kardashian a celebrity to aspire to or one to be held up as an example of who-not-to-be? Our writers Róisín Burke and Ellie O’Byrne battle it out. Which side are you on?

For - Róisín Burke

Kim flaunts her assets with a confidence we should all aim to have. We may not agree with her, but we can admire the way she does it, writes Róisín Burke.

Kim K’s infamous arse is at it again.

Well known for breaking the internet, Kardashian West let her haters have a field day after posting pics of her incredible bottom in all its natural beauty, while on vacation in Mexico.

Of course the backlash began almost instantly with people commenting on her cellulite — the sassy lady fought back with tongue firmly in cheek, tweeting a video of herself enjoying a milkshake with the caption: “ Mood #F***YouJenAtkin.” There is no denying the woman has a vivid sense of humour.

Like her or hate her, Kim flaunts her assets with a confidence we should all aim to have.

Positive body image is about being comfortable in your own shape and size and no one owns their unique figure like Kim Kardashian West.

In my opinion, she is the ultimate endorsement for a positive body image.

She has an extremely unusual shape, but she has learned to accentuate her body by training hard and wearing clothes that flatter what she has in a brazen style that is, in all manners, enviable.

As a celebrity with millions of followers, Kim has a responsibility to her fans to advocate an image with which she is proud to be associated with and for the most part, I think it is.

Her look, combined with her razor-sharp tongue and sickly sweet mannerisms, makes her a feminine endorsement of steel-hard determinism and chic pragmatism — something I think was missing in my days of impressionable youth.

In my own experience, I know I spent my teenage years staring at svelte and flawless women in magazines, pining for their shape.

Like many women, I blamed myself for not being skinnier or prettier, which is the start of a cycle that encapsulates negative body image.

Thankfully, in recent years, I have become more at ease with my shape, but I can still see how someone could be easily influenced by the constant barrage of scrawny but sculpted women in the media.

For this reason, Kardashian West is a breath of fresh air in a heavily polluted sphere of bullshit.

To the fuller figure woman, Kardashian West is someone to look up to, a body shape to relate to and a celebrity that stands out from the white-wash of size zeros as a beautiful woman with curves.

Perhaps more importantly, Kim takes the good with the bad, reacting to criticism in a paradox of relatable vulnerability and enviable cheek.

Like tweeting “@jenatkinhair spiked my Oreo shake to try to get me to not eat it because she’s fat shaming me” after negative commentary followed photos of her looking less-than-magnificent in a bikini.

That kind of attitude is needed to survive in today’s world of social media and online retorts. I think the youth of today can learn a thing or two from her demeanour.

I don’t always agree with Kardashian West’s style choices — or life choices, for that matter — but I respect her bold taste and admire the confidence with which she wears her clothes.

Last pic. Vintage Versace. The Promise Premiere

A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

I would like to make it clear, very clear, that I am not an avid follower of Kardashian West. I will admit to watching many episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians during my college years, but even then my favourite was Bruce.

However, as someone who likes to keep up with fashion, Kim Kardashian West floats in and out of my world and when she does it is always with an audacious air of someone doing her own thing.

That I respect and that, I think, is something to aspire to.

Against - Ellie O’Byrne

Kim Kardashian is part of an industry that tells girls that their value is in their appearance, not their achievements, writes Ellie O’Byrne.

Sometimes you’d almost wish that Kim Kardashian’s ass would just go ahead and break the internet.

In the latest round of tales from Kim’s vault, the reality TV star was supposedly “papped” au naturel whilst holidaying in Mexico. The resulting images of her cellulite-ridden posterior made the pages of the tabloids and triggered a new debate on social media about whether her bum is acceptable, or whether it’s let itself go.

The millennial yen for big bottoms has been hailed as empowering for women, and Kim and fellow well- endowed stars like Nikki Minaj and J-Lo have been touted as role models for women whose bodies couldn’t conform to the athletic or emaciated fashion standards of previous decades.

The fetishisation of the female derriere is nothing new. Sarah Baartman was a woman of the Khoisan people from South Africa, known as the Hottentot Venus. She was displayed at freak shows in London in the early 1800s for her ample posterior.

👯

A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

After her death, her pickled brain and sexual organs and a cast of her body were displayed in a museum in Paris until 1974; sickeningly, she wasn’t dignified with a burial until 2002.

Her rear was considered symbolic of rampant and primitive female sexuality; the Victorian bustle may have even mimicked her shelf-like fatty deposits as a big-butt craze swept fashionable society. Yet few would argue that Baartman’s story represented empowerment; she was an object, pawed at and carved up, a symbol of male colonisation, racism and ownership.

In the modern-day freak show of social media, Kim Kardashian has considerably more agency than Baartman had; she earned a reported $51 million (€47m) in 2016, with the help of social media endorsements that earn up to $300,000 a pop. That big butt is quite literally a money-maker.

Detoxing with @fittea 💜 it tastes amazing and the ingredients are all natural 🍵 #ad

A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

But Kim still represents a woman dissected, reduced to the sum and value of her parts. Whether you fall into the “omg she’s really let herself go” camp or the “it’s a perfectly normal lady-bottom” camp, by adding to the conversation you’re still carving up female anatomy for judgement.

The toxic fashion and beauty industries and their associated media implant parasitic insecurities, the better to sell women endless consumer goods. The process begins with a message to girls and women that their value is in their appearance, as a commodity, rather than in their achievements.

Kim is part of this industry.

She’s the master of faking it; for her day-in-the-life diary for Harper’s Bazaar, she reported spending an hour and a half in hair and make-up on mornings when she appears in public. Her image is the result of a vast staff of professionals, but vulnerable teens on social media seem unaware of this.

Carefully staged for “spontaneity,” the stars of Instagram are faking it and minting it, and teenage girls are aping them… and their fragile aspirations are monetised in the process. You can bet Kim’s bottom dollar — pun intended— that her derrière will return to newsstands and twitter feeds near you soon, no doubt having been “improved” through various saleable celebrity diets and procedures.

In the meantime, immunise your daughters: focus on their achievements and strengths rather than their appearance. For life-long positive self-image, from pimply teen to gamine young woman into the childbearing and post-menopausal years, a mind-set that says, “look at how incredible and strong our bodies are; look at what we can do,” will take our girls further than relying on the vagaries of their changing appearance for self-esteem.

The fashion and beauty industries implant parasitic insecurities, the better to sell women endless goods


More in this Section

Making Cents: Are you claiming back tax that is rightfully yours?

Paul Galvin playing a fashion Blinder

Remembering the dead: Poignant reason behind Cork’s Zombie Walk

Eight events around Ireland to check out for some frightful fun this Halloween


Lifestyle

Remembering the dead: Poignant reason behind Cork’s Zombie Walk

Eight events around Ireland to check out for some frightful fun this Halloween

Massacre at mass on Scariff Island

Ask Audrey: 'It’s like I’m in a horror movie called Revenge of the Norries'

More From The Irish Examiner