In April, pictures of reality TV star Kim Kardashian surfaced online, clicked by paparazzi when she was on a holiday to Mexico with her sisters. While Kim looked fabulous, the pictures showed some cellulite on her body. The photographs went viral, with many claiming this was what the star "really" looked like, and she had been "fooling" people with airbrushed pictures of a perfect physique.
In June, Kim said in an interview that while she was "not in the best shape" that time, those "awful photos" had been photoshopped to make her look worse, and all the negativity she received prompted her to "get it together" and start "working out with this bodybuilder girl".
On October 4, the trailer of the new episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians was released, which shows Kim's reaction when those pictures were first brought to her notice. A horrified Kim can be heard exclaiming "I literally don't look like that!"
Kim's immediate reaction is relatable - many of us have experiences of flinching as we scroll through vacation pictures, deleting some photos the moment we see them, asking friends not to upload or tag us in some on the social media.
However, her subsequent stand on the issue goes on to perpetuate the very stereotypes and cruel standards of beauty that she — like many others around the world — struggles with.
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For a very photographed, very visible woman for whom her body is a major asset, Kim's stand is understandable. According to reports, Kim lost some 1,00,000 followers on social media after the photographs surfaced - just one indicator that the damage to her for not looking "perfect" can be far more tangible than bad publicity.
It is possible that the cellulite pictures were photoshopped, and Kim really does not look like that. For a woman who spends a lot of time, effort and money on her body, she is right to be hurt when such pictures are circulated, and go viral, as they did.
However, Kim could have used the controversy to her advantage, in the process sending out an important message to people worldwide.
Kim Kardashian is a reality TV star, her body is among the major reasons for her fame, and she is always in the glare of cameras. But many women and men are torturing themselves with nothing but the glare of their own notions of conventional beauty, and their failure to match up to them.
Kim has reach and influence. For a lot of women, her body even in those "cellulite pictures" is a target to aspire for. When she decries them as "awful", in the same breath admitting that she was recovering from two uterus operations that time, and announces that the "awfulness" of them spurred her on to look better, she is hitting the self-esteem of all those women.
Kim's reaction has legitimised all those who attacked her for an "imperfect body".
A different statement from her, saying her body can have "flaws" but she can look beautiful regardless, would have made her far more human and relatable.
More importantly, it would have given some confidence to the millions of people struggling with body image issues around the world.