Wednesday, March 9, 2016

So...how is a naked selfie "empowering"?


Yesterday was International Women's Day. And today's is Women Crush Wednesday.

And how do we celebrate it?
With cat fighting, man bashing, naked pictures on Instagram of course.

This all started with this naked photo Kim Kardashian posted of herself. 

Note: this is not a current, post-baby photo, but an older, probably throwback snap.

I mean, why are we surprised or even upset at this point? Seeing Kim K naked is like seeing meat in the deli section, anyone who has eyes has seen it (and most of us by now are not that impressed or even fazed by it).

However, this particular time, fellow celebrities, socialites, and critics weighed in leading to a brewing storm that almost eclipsed the day itself. Arguments erupted, social media cat fights ensued. The photo was called everything from scanky to empowering. It was a hot mess. Even Kim came to her own defense, writing an empassioned piece, calling her photo "empowering." 

Here are the facts: 
1. Kim K is a grown woman. She's never promoted herself as anybody's role model. If she wants to plaster her perfectly surgeon sculpted body on her Instagram page, she is free to do that. Some of us may cheer, some of us may not like it, but she is free to do as she wants.
2. Kim K likes to pose naked. Although she was near sobbing in an interview in 2010, reflecting on her W cover "I don’t want people to be like, ‘All she’s good for is, you know, being naked... ", she has posed multiple times bare and brazen. The 35 year old mother of 2 has posed almost 40 times whether in a publication or on her on social media feeds nude. And she's showing no signs of stopping. My, how 6 years changes things.

Here is the real issue: The real problem emerges when celebrities like Kim use naked pictures like this and dare call them empowerment. 

In an essay written by Kim, she says,
"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."

Sweet sentiment. I would almost believe her if the above quote were the original caption of that Insta photo instead of the whole "Nothing to wear, LOL" bit. 

Let's get something straight: There is nothing empowering about the picture above; which is simply an overly sexualized, desperate attempt at staying relevant like this display. That's all this post was. Let's not turn it into anything deep in International Women's Day. This post was was self promotion. This post was simply a cry for attention. This post was a plea to stay noticed in a society saturated by this type of behavior. Fine. 

But what it is absolutely not is empowerment.

Yes, there are few things more empowering than loving and embracing your body. (And you should love and be proud of your bodies ladies!) Yes, there are tasteful and beautiful displays of nudity that are inspiring and empowering. The body is nothing to be ashamed of. It is an act of bravery in the airbrushed, contoured, photoshopped, cropped society that we live in to genuinely love who you were born as.

However, this Kim K's nudie post is not one of them. No, this in something else. In fact, the airbrushed, contoured, photoshopped, cropped society is due to completely unrealistic expectations our culture elevates as the only form of beauty, a lie miss Kim is guilty of keeping alive. For some, it's entertainment. For others, it's something to talk about. But what it absolutely isn't is empowerment.

Honestly, I laughed when I read that Kim says she's proud of her body. Of course Kim K is proud of her body! The same way you would be proud of a pricy designer purse. She's paid a lot of money for her body to look that way, so naturally, she wants to show it off, whether that be on her Instagram, in a magazine, or attempting to break the Internet. 

But, I stress, not one of these displays were for empowerment. Please! The only thing she is "empowering women and young girls" to do is to follow in her same, vapid footsteps, forgoing real intellectual growth and cerebral development for a tight dress, a book of selfies, and a few trips under the knife. 

Real empowerment embraces flaws, even seeks to understand them, instead of having them all surgically or digitally removed. Real empowerment loves the imperfect instead of masking it beneath 40 steps and unknown amount of layers of make up. Real empowerment does not seek perfection but rather learns to love the entire self. Real empowerment does not conform to popular cultures standards but, full of love for self, lives free in authenticity. 

Real empowerment is born of authenticity, self respect, and freedom, not for one's own promotion, but so that one can give these things to others in the hopes that they too can be free.

So while Kim K can and will continue to post naked pictures of herself, you can call it whatever you want except for empowerment.