On an otherwise innocent Monday evening last month, the Internet was subjected to a succession of naked photos of Mrs. Kardashian-West, who was then exposed to ruthless discussion and criticism. The daughter of Robert Kardashian and leader of the ‘Kardashian clan’ succeeded, again, to light up social media and cause controversy but at what cost?
According to celebritynetworth.com, Kim Kardashian has an individual worth of $65 million. She earns $80,000 with every showing of ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ and on her (third) wedding day she wore more than $10 million in jewellry. Oh, and her backside is insured for $13million. This celebrated asset is a size 14, despite a size 8 waist and last week, in ‘Paper’ magazine, it managed to break the Internet. One of the more conservative photographs in question was of Kim holding a bottle of champagne, which fashioned an arc over her head, echoing a splash on her rear end. Her expression showed astonishment – indeed, to pull of such a feat requires proficiency. I too would be amazed had the same happened to me and yet it seems the photo-shoot generated stronger negative than positive responses. One critic attempted to imitate the photo, replacing her two bum-cheeks with Krispy Kreme doughnuts and another exchanged her whole lower torso with that of a horse, constructing a centaur. More brutal was the comment from actress Naya Rivera – “You’re someone’s mother” –, posted as a comment on Instagram, and it seems she has voiced the opinion of many women who condemn the nude photos.
Piers Morgan also took time to comment during the aftermath: “forever etched in the memory” constitutes a more delicate response, which I find suitable for circumstances here; slating a woman down for the public endorsement of her body, especially when done through the safety of a computer, is a condemned act in itself. Although I will not defend Kim Kardashian for the overly provocative photos, I will not concur with the way 21st century social media has endorsed the ruthless, spineless denunciation that follows self expression. Unfortunately, as the rise in Internet users becomes uncontrollable, the act of cowardly scrutiny, hidden behind screens, cannot be prevented. So I suggest some improvements in the way social media consumers go about their feedback process. Instead of short, aggressive comments, one should start with the traditional primary school favourite ‘What Went Well’ (WWW). A suggestion for this particular instance: Kim’s shiny hair looked great in that topknot! Once having stated a positive proceed with the second part of the feedback procedure: ‘Even Better If’ (EBI), where you supplement the original remark with suggestions as what Kim could do better next time, voicing an encouraging critique. And then, having established the nature of the feedback, instead of posting publically, where millions of others have access to it, send her an email. Write her a letter. Throw a bottle into the sea with your notes on and await the reply. For, if you were really concerned about the matter you would declare your views to Kim, and not to the rest of the world.
On a more general note, recent studies by the Pew Research Centre show one in four women between the age of 18 and 24 have been sexually harassed or stalked on the Internet, and, in general, that women are more likely to be abused online than men. Although the sexualisation of women on the web is unmistakable and perhaps more infamous, men also receive media abuse that is both ruthless and sickening, often in regards to their sexuality. We, as a society, must seriously reflect, evaluate and make strong changes to the way in which we go about out lives, online. Indeed, many will argue that freedom of expression should be viable in every medium of life… these people say that the restriction of online autonomy is a sign of a rigid and dogmatic society. But, these same people do not think of the children, the children who grow up with a deluge of leaked naked bodies and crude, merciless remarks, and who take from it all that such behaviour is normal – or even perhaps, worth imitation? I do not propose the emergence of an authoritarian society, nor do I condemn the cybernetic freedom of expression, but, when children start imitating the behaviour of adults online, I will draw a line.
The naked photos of Kim Kardashian have done more harm than good, and they will remain online forever. In her desire to ‘break the internet’ she forgot about the millions of teenagers and young children who would see the photos, and come to believe that her behaviour is worth emulating. And, in twenty years time, when Kim is facing trial for some celebrity mishap, and the jury are reminded of the Jean-Paul Goude photo-shoot in ‘Paper’ magazine, the Internet will break her.