In case you missed it, Kim Kardashian recently posted a naked selfie to her Instagram account. This fact alone is not extraordinary, especially for Kim, who is no stranger to offering up her naked body for public consumption. Despite this, her photo drew notable ire from other celebrities. Chloë Grace Moretz criticized the reality star with a pair of tweets saying she should teach young women that "we have so much more to offer than just our bodies," and British TV personality Piers Morgan published a diatribe about the photo in a column for the Daily Mail that ponders why Kim would feel the need to post a naked photo if she's "so successful, so secure, and so rich."
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion — but who, exactly, do they think Kim Kardashian is?
Kim Kardashian is a lot of things. She's a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a reality TV star, and an extremely successful businesswoman. However, it doesn't seem as though she's ever tried to be a role model. From day one, she has appeared to live her life unapologetically and for herself. "I would never say I think I'm a role model or anything like that," she told Rolling Stone last year, adding, "I live my life the way that I live it and I just try to be a good person. And I don't try to look to be a role model for people. I think it's a lot of pressure."
There is no shortage of famous females with strong values to idolize and aspire to — over the past few years, celebrities like Lena Dunham, Emma Watson, and Demi Lovato have been praised for strongly aligning themselves with causes like feminism and body acceptance. In spite of this, whenever Kim posts a sexy photo to social media, people never fail to come out in droves to slam her for the "message" she's apparently sending to her legions of fans and question why she isn't trying to be someone for them to look up to. But let's remember this: Kim did not get to where she is today by tweeting out inspirational Ruth Bader Ginsburg quotes. She does not get paid millions of dollars to espouse her feelings on presidential elections or the state of the economy, and if she tried, the public would likely roll its eyes and recommend she "stick to taking selfies" — she has a book full of them, after all.
Kim never set out to be a role model. She set out to become famous, and at that she's succeeded, thanks in a large part to the way she's skillfully celebrated her own body. The world will remind you that her first major claim to fame was the sex tape she made with R&B singer Ray J back in 2007, and from there (with the help of momager Kris Jenner), Kim hustled her way into reality TV fame with E!'s runaway hit Keeping Up With the Kardashians. After she gained an explosive level of popularity, she turned that into promotional deals for diet pills, beauty products, and waist trainers and created a hit video game, which all add up to one massive payday for her and the rest of the Kardashian family. With all of this in mind, why are people still so incensed when she posts a photo wearing nothing but a few well-placed censor strips?
Hiding behind the guise of feminism and preaching that young women need to be sent the right message while simultaneously bashing a woman for her decision to publicly flaunt and embrace her sexuality is a lose-lose situation. It sends a message that women are only allowed to love their bodies as long as they do it in a way that's aggreeable to the public. In a moment of poignancy, Kim touched on that very issue with an insightful blog post that addressed the recent controversy surrounding her photo:
"I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world.
I am empowered by my husband, who is so accepting and supportive and who has given me a newfound confidence in myself. He allows me to be me and loves me unconditionally.
I feel so lucky to have grown up surrounded by strong, driven, independent women. The life lessons I've learned from my sisters, my mother and my grandmother, I will pass along to my daughter. I want her to be proud of who she is. I want her to be comfortable in her body. I don't want her to grow up in a world where she is made to feel less-than for embracing everything it means to be a woman.
It's 2016. The body-shaming and slut-shaming — it's like, enough is enough. I will not live my life dictated by the issues you have with my sexuality. You be you and let me be me."
If you don't like looking at Kim's naked body or approve of her career or hate the message she sends, that's fine — with well over 104 million loyal social media followers and supportive celebrity friends, there are plenty of people out there who do. Just don't be surprised when Kim continues to behave in the exact same way she's behaved for the entirety of her career — because as she herself put it, she's allowed to be sexy.