By Lyndsey Nadeau
On Monday, Twitter was focused on yet another “feud,” this time between Kim Kardashian West and other celebrities who disagreed with her new nude selfie. The internet quickly jumped to the defense of Kardashian West—but something about it didn’t feel right to me, especially her interaction with young actress, Chloë Moretz.
Emphasis on Artificial Beauty
Personally, I don’t think Moretz was wrong. There was, in fact, truth to her words. If she weren’t replying directly to Kardashian West, and instead decided to tweet it as a general statement, she’d be praised for her profound, inspirational thoughts. “I truly hope you realize how important setting goals are for young women, teaching them we have so much more to offer than just our bodies.”
The Kardashian/Jenner family heavily focuses on physical appearances, most of them spending a surplus of time and money on the way they look. Way more money than the majority of their fans have access to. Kylie Jenner went through costly cosmetic procedures before she was an adult, procedures that could be dangerous if her fans wanted to replicate her look. (Let’s not revisit the Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge.)
They are public figures who depend on young women for their livelihoods, and they have a responsibility to be cautious about the messages they are sending to them. One of these messages should be that we are more than the size of our lips, the number on the scale, or the color of our skin, and that we are beautiful without drastically altering our appearance. Maybe Kardashian West’s selfie wasn’t saying “hey, my body is the most important part about me,” but it’s arguable that her career is largely based on that message, and the nude selfie is only reinforcing it. Moretz wasn’t trying to be malicious in her short Twitter reply; she was simply voicing her concern about the statement Kardashian West could be making.
Taking Away Our Voice
But that’s not the biggest issue in this situation. It’s how Kardashian West reacted.
The Kardashians and Jenners boast their fame and financial success as if it deems them more valuable than those who don’t get their income from being tacky reality TV stars. While I was working towards my undergraduate degree, I had a media professor who liked to remind his class that the Kardashians would be nowhere if O.J. Simpson were not a murderer. Their fame and success emerged from sheer luck, albeit a weird, disturbing kind of luck. Even more dangerous than their emphasis on artificial physical beauty, this message implies we need fame, money and beauty in order to speak our minds and have it actually mean something. Our right to speak up about what we believe is not earned. We all have important things to contribute to this world, and we do not have to wait until we are famous, wealthy, or conventionally beautiful to do so.
A Tricky Subject
Feminism is a tricky subject. The majority of us agree that feminism is an empowering movement that we all should believe in, men and women alike. Equality is imperative for the progress of society around the world. but more and more often, I am finding self-proclaimed feminists maliciously attacking women who disagree with them. It creates a damaging cycle that never ends, especially if we refuse to look at the situation from someone else’s shoes.
Morality isn’t a black or white subject, especially when it comes to situations as complex as feminism. What is right and what is wrong involves education and experience, as well as being exposed to different thoughts and opinions from various points of view. It’s easy to point fingers at people and turn them into villains, but the more productive option is to educate people about what we think is right, instead of turning them into targets for others to throw stones at.
Why are we saying that Kardashian West is allowed to say and do whatever she wants, but we are silencing Moretz’s legitimate concerns? Furthermore, Moretz is only 19 and Kardashian West is 35. How would we feel if neither of them were famous and a middle-aged mother was trying to silence the thoughts of a 19-year-old by telling her that her thoughts didn’t matter?
Giving Women a Choice
Of course, I also understand Kardashian West’s supporters. Feminism isn’t only about equality; it’s also about giving every woman the opportunity to choose exactly who she wants to be, whether that’s a princess, a professional soccer player, a scientist, an engineer, a hairdresser, a porn star, a painter, and yes, even a housewife or stay-at-home mom. The important word in that sentence is choose, and Kardashian West is choosing to represent herself in this way. But if we are inundated with messages about what society thinks we should be in order to be considered a valuable contribution to the world, then our choices start to disappear.
The situation is complex, but what I do know is that no one has the right to tell someone that what they have to say isn’t important due to their inferior follower count on social media. In that case, we’d be giving a lot of power to 14-year-old fangirls who manage One Direction Twitter accounts with 25k followers. (Which, by the way, is pretty awesome because I love fangirls.)
In other news, Happy International Women’s Day! Let’s celebrate inspirational women across the world, and educate each other about important issues.