- Khloe Kardashian’s attempt to scrub an unedited photo from the internet is evoking controversy.
- Body positive influencers and activists told Insider keeping the post up could have been helpful.
- But they don’t blame Kardashian’s move, given broader cultural pressures and her own journey.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Body positive activists and dietitians are largely compassionate toward Khloe Kardashian in the midst of her saga involving an unedited bikini photo.
On April 5, Kardashian’s assistant mistakenly posted an untouched photo of the media personality standing poolside in Palm Springs on Instagram. The raw photo quickly circulated on Reddit and Twitter, with fans loving its realness, but the Kardashian team asked users to take it down, citing copyright infringements.
On Wednesday, Kardashian responded by posting a video of her body along with a lengthy response.
“The photo that was posted this week is beautiful. But as someone who has struggled with body image her whole life, when someone takes a photo of you that isn’t flattering in bad lighting or doesn’t capture your body the way it is after working so hard to get it to this point – and then shares it to the world – you should have every right to ask for it to not be shared – regardless of who you are,” Kardashian said in the post.
Insider talked to body-positive influencers and non-diet dietitians to get their reactions to the saga.
One activist wishes Kardashian felt beautiful in that photo, but ‘she’s not there yet’ and that’s OK
Danae Mercer, a body positivity activist, regularly posts pictures of her lean, muscular body, as well as photos of her cellulite to her 2.2 million Instagram followers. Amid the Kardashian controversy, Mercer made a post saying although she posts pictures of her cellulite, that doesn’t mean every woman should be forced to do so.
Mercer would have loved it if the Kardashian would have been OK with the photo, given that her fans could identify with the realistic body image, “but as we could see in what she said, she’s not there yet,” Mercer told Insider.
Mercer feels empowered when she shows raw images of herself but also respects a woman’s choice to post whatever makes her feel comfortable. “We don’t have the right to deny a person that consent,” Mercer said.
A non-diet dietitian said she doesn’t blame Kardashian, she blames an oppressive culture
“Khloe Kardashian has been body and weight shamed for decades, so while I wish she would post more real, unedited photos, I also completely understand why she doesn’t,” Rumsey wrote in an email.
For one, “we live in a world that tells us all the time that fat is wrong and thin is good and where celebrities’ bodies are splashed across websites and magazines with all their ‘flaws’ pointed out,” she said.
Plus, she said, even non-celebrities’ bodies are constantly policed no matter how they look.
“We are taught from a very young age that in order to be accepted, respected, loved, or happy we must meet societal beauty standards,” Rumsey said. “To not meet these unrealistic and oppressive body standards is to risk judgment, disrespect, discrimination, and oppression.”
Social media makes the message that only thin, white, young, and able-bodied people matter even more salient. “What we see—and what we don’t see—makes a huge difference in how we learn what bodies are worthy and what ones not,” Rumsey said.
“I don’t blame individual people for editing or filtering their photos — I blame our oppressive culture that elevates thin, white bodies and oppresses fat, Black and Brown ones.”
A weight-inclusive author said Kardashian’s actions don’t match up to her brand’s motto: ‘representing body acceptance’
Rebecca Scritchfield, a weight-inclusive dietitian and author of “Body Kindness” would give Kardashian a pass if she didn’t claim to be body positive. But her brand’s tagline is “representing body acceptance.”
Kardashian “is wrong to claim ‘bopo’ for sales reasons and not engage in the practice of body positivity,” Scritchfield said in an email to Insider. “She is human and can make mistakes on her journey, but I would believe her brand if she actually practiced what she marketed.” For people trying to embrace body positivity, that dissonance can be harmful, Scritchfield said.
Scritchfield recommends people seeking body acceptance follow more marginalized people instead, like those who are higher weight, Black, brown, or disabled, and “who have business to support true body inclusivity advocacy and activism.”
She also encourages people to modify their social media behaviors, like by taking breaks from it, re-curating their feeds, or cutting it out entirely. Otherwise, the platform will
“Social media has always been and will always be a toxic mirror to engage in social comparison,” she said. “As a mom of two girls and a clinician, I believe you don’t protect people from the world but you need to support them by focusing the problem on culture and not individual bodies — and give people the tools and skills to build resilience and strength to handle the ups and downs of life.”
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