If you’re like me, you’ll aggressively tune out whenever the Kardashian name is dropped. But when a certain unfiltered image began making the rounds online, it provoked questions of image ownership and body confidence that became impossible to ignore.
This week, a leaked photo of Khloé Kardashian has got her lawyers working overtime to get it taken it down. Is it offensive? No. Is she doing something illegal? Nope. Does it make her look bad? Well, quite to the contrary if you ask the public, but to her, it’s “unflattering” and must be destroyed. If I had a dollar for every unflattering photo of me on the internet, I would probably… have a few hundred dollars.
But for someone whose family has built an empire on a heavily edited public appearance, this stripped-back, natural depiction of Khloé conflicts so profoundly with her Photoshopped life that she’s taking legal to have it erased from the internet. (You can view it here but we’d like to avoid the lawsuit pls).
For years, the Kardashians have perpetuated fatphobia and impossible beauty standards through heavy filters, editing, and promotion of harmful ‘skinny tea’, only to have it come crashing down in one fell swoop. You can’t blame some of us for experiencing a bit of schadenfreude–the pleasure derived from the misfortune of someone else. But with that was almost… pity.
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Here is a woman who, by Hollywood and ‘regular life’ standards, is OBVIOUSLY in amazing shape but she’s so incredibly insecure about one unflattering angle she’s willing to spend thousands on destroying the evidence. She’s unwittingly become the victim of her own illusion.
“This is me and my body unretouched and unfiltered. The photo that was posted this week is beautiful. But as someone who has struggled with body image her whole life, when someone takes a photo of you that isn’t flattering in bad lighting or doesn’t capture your body in the way it is after working so hard to get it to this point, and then shares it to the world, you should have every right to ask for it not to be shared, regardless of who you are,” Khloé wrote in a statement on Twitter.
“For over a decade now in photos, every single flaw and imperfection has been micro-analysed and made fun of to the smallest detail and I am reminded of them every day by the world… This is an example of how I have been conditioned to feel, that I am not beautiful enough just being me.”
Perhaps the most crucial point came at the end: “My body, my image and how I choose to look and what I want to share is my choice.”
And she’s absolutely right. Emily Ratajkowski experienced a similar question of ownership over her own image when an artist reproduced, without her permission, her Instagram images as part of a book. Or when she was sued by a paparazzi for posting a photo he’d taken of her to her Instagram.
Being in the public eye doesn’t mean we own Khloé, or any celebrity for that matter, and she’s well within her right to decide what that image is. But the illusion is over. The best way out of this would be for Khloé to take back ownership of her image and repost the photo with strength, self-esteem, and conviction. Not because we’re all “beautiful but”, but because we are all beautiful.