By Cortney Cordero SPECIAL TO THE CHRONICLE
Kim Kardashian’s Paper Magazine spread hit the web on Nov. 12 with the purpose of “breaking the internet.” While her photos didn’t quite fulfill their intended purpose, Kim Kardashian has sparked a controversy that goes beyond the normal that she and her clan provoke.
In the cover, Kardashian is clad in a black sparkly dress holding an exploding bottle of champagne. The champagne shoots up above her and very unrealistically curves backward to pour into a drinking glass balancing on her famously large booty.
Initially, there is nothing out of the ordinary about the photos, as they seem to fit Kim K’s standards. But the pictures that follow show Kardashian slowly losing the dress, showing off her oiled up backside, and finally, a full-frontal nude.
The nudity is not the issue here. After a sex tape, and one racy Instagram post after the other, it is no surprise that Kardashian is eager to show off her body and leave absolutely nothing to the human imagination. But if she’s comfortable with that, that’s her prerogative. She is not the first to pose nude for a photo shoot, and she certainly won’t be the last. It’s her body to flaunt on a very public scale.
The real problem with this photo shoot is actually the fully-clothed picture featuring the champagne-shelf-butt situation.
Kardashian’s backside has been sensationalized since the beginning of her “career,” and even though the photos can be positively perceived in the light of her embracing it and making fun of herself, the feeling behind these photos goes a lot deeper.
Kim might not be black, but her husband and daughter are, and these pictures play upon degrading racial stereotypes.
In an op-ed for The Grigio, a news site geared toward an African-American audience, columnist Blue Telusma points to an 18th century African woman as an early example.
In Namibia in the 1700s, a black woman named Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman had a large backside and spent most of her life traveling in the freak-show circuit, being ridiculed, ogled and treated as a sexual object, Telusma explained.
Fast forward to the 1980s, when this photo’s photographer, Jean-Paul Goude, took almost the exact same photo with another woman. In interviews, Goude admitted to photographing black women, cutting the images down and putting them back together to reflect a pre-conceived notion of what a black woman’s body should look like.
Fetishizing women of color is problematic to say the least. It is a seemingly innocent way to “admire” black women, when in reality, it continues to segregate them, instead of promoting a perception of beauty regardless of race.
With this picture, Kardashian furthers these racial stereotypes that women are trying desperately to shake off. For someone who is saying that she’s finally becoming more aware of racism now that she’s had her child with Kanye West, she seems all talk.
Kardashian doesn’t realize how she affects the public with all the things she does. If she put half the energy that she normally puts into her selfies and her wardrobe into forming an opinion and working to be valuable toward it, she would be invaluable. But we shouldn’t hold our breath hoping that Kim will actually wake up one day and think before she does something.
If you’re looking for a role model or a woman that you can look up to in the media, don’t look to Kim Kardashian. Aim much higher than being a moldable, frivolous, pretty face.
Choose to idolize someone with more substance and drive, someone who actually wants to improve this world, rather than to simply perpetuate the social issues that generations have been working to undo.
Kim Kardashian is simply a fixture in today’s pop culture. She is obsessed with all the wrong things, and she fails to see the negative repercussions of her actions. Her spread in Paper Magazine is just one example of how Kim doesn’t think before she acts and affects social issues negatively as a result.
The views and opinions expressed in the Op-Ed section are those of the authors of the articles. They are not an endorsement of the views of The Chronicle or its staff. The Chronicle does not discriminate based on the opinions of the authors.