In an age where feminism is becoming an ever more widely used buzzword, it’s always interesting to see the reaction where famous women celebrities are concerned. Even the most vehement proclaimers of equality tend to have an opinion one way or another on the actions of the rich and famous, and nobody is a more contentious subject than Kim Kardashian.
Following on from her attempt to ‘break the internet’ in her full-frontal shoot for Paper magazine back in late 2014, she’s at it again with a 30-page spread for Love magazine, shot by renowned photographer Steven Klein. This time, the criticism she’s received from all corners of the internet is way more fierce, with both men and women alike lining up on social media to say they’re tired of Kardashian’s risqué shoots.
The question here is, does choosing to be in the public eye mean you have to accept (sometimes very nasty) criticism?
Kardashian’s obvious comfort with her own body, and the agency that she’s used in posing for these shoots – for highly established magazines and photographers at the top of their field – can be seen as a assertion of her influence over aspects of her career in response to critics insistent on saying she’s famous for nothing. Whilst her most prominent money spinner is as the main attraction on reality show Keeping up with the Kardashians, the fact that she’s made millions off the back of the leaking of intimate videos is something to be reckoned with.
Another argument from those condemning the move has to do with her role as the mother of daughter North. A section of Twitter has gone up in arms claiming that her actions aren’t those of a mother – but the question remains, who decides on what actions are fit for a mother to perform? Having a child is not necessarily a reason that women are not allowed to reclaim their own bodies, especially when the woman in question is used to having her public image taken out of her hands by a media intent on showing her in the least flattering light possible. Of course North is going to see images of her mother when she grows up, but surely it’s better she sees her as empowered by her own actions than victimised by a relentless paparazzi.
Finally, there are those who are defending Kardashian’s actions – a user with the Twitter handle @mikenewellAPPS makes the point: ‘we clown Kim Kardashian for posing naked. Maybe she did it to be free? Because now you can’t hold it above her head as a means of control.’ (Daily Mirror 2015). This makes a good point – of course everyone is allowed the right to their own opinion so long as it isn’t harmful, but maybe believing that voicing an opinion won’t have an impact is symptomatic of the way we live now.
In a world where we have direct contact with celebrities through these applications, it’s becoming ever-clearer that public opinion, in one way or another, has a result on the way that people in the public eye behave. Whether Kardashian’s photoshoots are to make her feel powerful as an individual or portray her agency to the wider public it’s important to realise that our opinions, whatever they are, shape the way celebrity culture develops more than ever.