Last week, Kim Kardashian took naked selfies and posted them on Twitter. I don’t follow the Kardashians, but some of the talk shows picked up the news. I saw the edited version of the selfie and heard there was backlash from it, some of it from celebrities, like Bette Midler and Chloe Moretz. But there was also some defending her choice, mentioning “empowerment” and “using her body the way she wants,” which I’ll get to in a minute.
After some of the celebrities’ comments, Kim responded by mentioning her $40 million dollar paycheck and her popularity, as if that excused her behavior. I was trying to wrap my mind around the idea of a naked selfie tweeted to millions of followers. The idea of empowerment stuck with me long after I turned off the talk show.
Kim’s audience is made up of 18-24 year-olds, young men who find her attractive and women interested in fashion and the Kardashian brand. She has over 41,000,000 followers on Twitter. This is her life. This is what she does. (If looking good was my job, I might spend time checking myself out in my bathroom mirror, too. I just wouldn’t put it out there for everyone to see.)
These selfies are porn. Really. I’m surprised no one’s calling it what it is. Aside from the porn issue, millions of female followers who received an eyeful of Kim’s assets are self-comparing in their bathrooms. They’re learning, “This is what I have to look like. This is how I get attention. It’s okay.” And we wonder why teens are sexting. Dosomething.org says “24% of high-school age teens (ages 14 to 17) and 33% of college-age students (ages 18 to 24) have been involved in a form of nude sexting.” While boys are more likely to send sexually explicit messages, girls are more likely to send nude or semi-nude images.
These pictures aren’t about empowerment. Empowerment means to give power or authority. There’s nothing authoritative about standing in front of your bathroom mirror and showing everyone what God gave you. Anyone with a camera can do it. Instead use empowerment to share the memo “I’m more than just my sexuality. I’m a person of value and it doesn’t matter what I look like.” It’s hard to get the message across when you’re naked.
A talk show host praised Kim for “using her body the way she wants.” Good for her. But just because you want to do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should do it. Kim claimed she wanted to be known as someone other than a person famous for her sex tape. She should start acting like it.
I don’t have a problem with Kim Kardashian. I have a problem with any person, celebrity or not, who uses pornographic nudity to “share,” empower, or otherwise seek attention. Girls are being sexualized at younger and younger ages. Kim could do girls a great service by using her platform differently: show girls how to be powerful with their clothes on.