Kim Kardashian is objectified to a fault, especially in Paper magazine’s recent nude photographs of her.
Kardashian (the name itself, but Kim especially) seems to invite criticism from everyone, from your mom on Facebook to Kardashian wannabe and chronic tacky dresser Naya Rivera.
“You’re someone’s mother,” Rivera allegedly posted on Instagram. But even if she didn’t, someone did. Someone looked at Kim Kardashian’s ass and thought, “That’s not something a mom would do.”
It’s almost laughably cliché the extent to which the Madonna-whore dichotomy rears its ugly head when it comes to Kim Kardashian. You never hear anyone saying much about her sister, Kourtney, who is also a mom and dresses in a similarly skimpy manner; you never hear more than a suspicious “momager” lobbed at Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner.
You only hear this sort of thing directed at Kim: Kim the fame whore, Kim the useless slut, Kim the porn star. People don’t have real issues with this, when she’s only a fame whore, a useless slut, a porn star—but when she’s a mother, she’s suddenly subject to a wealth of heavier critiques, about everything from not smiling enough, to dressing her daughter like a boy, to making too much money off the mobile game of the summer.
Kim Kardashian is not a porn star. She made a sex tape that was released against her will; she then sued over it, won, and kick-started a reality TV show that made her sickeningly famous. She is married to a rapper. She has a daughter with a ridiculous name (though “North” is significantly less ridiculous than “Apple,” “Bronx,” or “Sage Moonblood”). She is wildly successful in her own right. It doesn’t really make sense that people hate her so much, because the criticism directed toward her is not just the disdain people level toward seemingly everyone whose wealth comes from doing basically nothing. She also receives a sort of hatred that other TV personalities can escape.
Perhaps she is threatening. After all, she turned the exploitation of her sexuality on its head and used it to get ahead. Her photograph on the cover of Paper is an example of her taking control of the nude images of herself that the world gets to see—and maybe that’s threatening. Maybe we don’t like it when women get naked because they want to get naked, rather than because someone stole their nude photos. Maybe that’s when we start throwing slurs at them.
It gets exhausting, seeing slur after slur leveled against Kim Kardashian. There are so many legitimate criticisms one could make that it seems pointless to spend so much time talking about how much of a slut she is, what a bad role model she is to her daughter, or how moms shouldn’t be sexy (even though, again, one of the highest-ranking terms on porn sites is MILF). For instance, Kim is famous for her booty, so she can’t escape black coding (not to mention she’s married to Kanye West). She therefore should have been aware of the ugly fetishization of black women that she was enabling when she allowed herself to be photographed mimicking Jean-Paul Goude’s original photograph of a nude black woman resting a champagne glass on her butt. The original photograph is an example of the historical violation of black female bodies—originating with Saartije Bartman—and a non-black woman in a slinky black dress Photoshopped within an inch of reality making light of that violation is a sick sort of transposition.
That’s the kind of commentary that people should be making. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of commentary getting the most exposure. Instead, Rivera’s Instagram comment spent two days on Facebook’s trending topics sidebar, and Kim got in a good joke about her own supposed uselessness: “And they say I didn’t have a talent...” she tweeted, “try balancing a champagne glass on your ass LOL.”