It had been a few months since we’d seen Kim Kardashian West fully naked.
But on Sunday night she gifted us a nude selfie confirming that, aside from an apparent knot in her right shoulder-neck region, all remains in excellent form.
The breasts are as orb-like and buoyant as ever, and the rest of the body a continuous curve, from the concavity of the waist to the fullness of the hips and infamous bum.
Many woke early to the news that the 35-year-old reality TV star and wife of Kanye West had broken the Internet again, though their Internet connections were working just fine.
Given how familiar we are with this stunt from Kim, it’s unclear why people would fuss so much over yet another nude photo of her. (There are a number of NSFW images of her floating around the Web, like this recent photo of her bare ass; a recent full-frontal picture; the original Internet-breaking bum shot; a naked-and-pregnant selfie; and so on.) As Bette Midler joked on Twitter, “If Kim wants us to see a part of her we’ve never seen, she’s gonna have to swallow the camera.”
Midler’s hilarious (and entirely accurate) comment was subsumed in the latest war on Kim Kardashian’s body, wherein people projected their various body image insecurities and morals onto Kim and her naked selfie.
In the Daily Mail, Piers Morgan, feigning boredom over Kim’s stunt, offered to “buy her some clothes,” while 19-year-old actress Chloë Grace Moretz signaled her feminist disappointment to her Twitter followers: “I truly hope you realize how important setting goals are for young women, teaching them we have so much more to offer than just our bodies.”
The Kim Kardashian West we know would usually ignore the criticism. She’s the not-say-boo-to-a-goose one (especially when contrasted to her, erm, more voluble husband), as she’s demonstrated for years on Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
But last night we saw a new Kim engaging and insulting her critics on Twitter. The bitchiest comment went to Moretz: “let’s all welcome [Chloe] to Twitter, since no one knows who she is. your nylon cover is cute boo.”
Then came the ultimate middle-finger: another nude photo, this one more defiant than sexy. Having said her piece, she let her body do the rest of the arguing.
The second image evoked one of the most infamous covers of Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch—featuring a disembodied, naked female torso hanging from a rail like a piece of clothing—not because the two look similar, but because of what they represent. Greer’s book was a radical feminist polemic in the ’70s that argued for a woman’s right to express her sexuality without apology—Kim’s stock and trade.
She’s repeatedly used her body to get attention, earn money, and brand herself as the ultimate 21st century sex symbol. She went from being the sad (rich) victim of a leaked sex tape to a (rich) wife and mother who proudly showed off her ability to balance a champagne flute on her digitally enlarged backside.
Feminists might argue, as Moretz did, that Kim’s ritualistic flaunting of her hourglass figure perpetuates our body image-obsessed culture. Do we want young girls to equate self-worth with “perfect” bodies like Kim Kardashian West’s? Think of the children!
If we want them to see what a “normal” and “real” body looks like, we should direct them to Lena Dunham, who wrote an exhaustive essay in Tuesday’s Lenny letter explaining why she’s saying “no” to Photoshop from now on.
When Dunham takes her clothes off on TV, progressive feminists applaud her bravery. (If we want to teach young girls about bravery, the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls who escaped Boko Haram or the Afghan women leaders risking their lives to work in public office might be more appropriate role models.) But when Kim takes her clothes off, many of those same progressive feminists think it’s crass, tasteless, exploitative, and harmful to women.
Gratuitous nudity always runs the risk of being crass and tasteless, especially when used as a publicity stunt. But if progressive feminists believe women should be in charge of their bodies and sexuality, shouldn’t this apply to Kim?
She’s never branded herself a role model, so why does Chloë Grace Moretz expect her to be one? Appearing half-naked on the cover of Nylon magazine doesn’t put her in the best position to moralize about female nudity.
Piers Morgan raised an interesting question: We get that naked selfies are Kim’s shtick, but does she not realize that this one-trick-pony has an expiration date?
It’s true that most female celebrities showcase their bodies less and less as they age. When you’re old and wrinkly, nude selfies are less appealing. So they cultivate something else beyond modeling and acting. They adopt starving children in Africa, write memoirs and lifestyle books, and reinvent themselves.
But Kim is not like most female celebrities. She is without a discernible talent, bar a gold standard, first-class degree in self-promotion, and will milk that body for all its worth.
Go forth, Kim Kardashian West, and continue flooding the media with nude selfies. Use your body as a money-making spectacle. Inject it with Botox and fillers. The public will remain fascinated, and the spectacle—the ongoing crazy, transfixing public story of your body—need never end.