Sunday, April 7, 2013

In Defense of Kim (No, Really)

Tonight I ran to the Walgreens and the line was ridiculously long, so it was almost impossible to miss this magazine cover (I snapped the photo with my phone, so forgive the poor quality.):

Please consider this my open letter to Star Magazine.

Dear Star,

I understand that celebrities are your raison d'etre.  I also understand that you need to sell magazines every week, and Kardashians sell.  I get that.  I do.


When I was an undergraduate and didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up, I took a class in journalism.  We talked about libel and slander and how it's more difficult to prove when you're famous, because when you're a public figure, you must open yourself up to criticism simply by virtue of being famous.  We looked at all kinds of case studies and somewhere in the course of all of this study, I walked away with one thing: all a publication needs to do to defend itself is to prove an absence of malice.

We didn't intend harm by publishing this, they say, and so you can't sue us.  And so it goes.

But here's the thing:  this magazine cover is an act of pure malice.  There is intent to harm here.  You are making fun of the figure of a woman who is growing a tiny human inside of her.  That tiny human requires nutrients, and when it gets those nutrients, it will grow.  And as she grows, her mother's only job is to keep her healthy.  That sometimes means getting fatter than you ever thought you'd be.

But when a magazine cover focuses on the expectant mother's weight gain, and the mother is as image conscious as our Kim, what do you think the result will be?

She will:
a) Brush it off because she's used to this by now and knows you are all a bunch of weasels.
b) Stew over this throughout the pregnancy and react with a crash diet that makes similar headlines over her fantastic post-pregnancy shape.  And then, while her daughter is growing, raise her with unrealistic expectations of body image.
c) Internalize this hurt that you're surely causing and start dieting.  Dieting, while growing a tiny human inside of her.  Gosh, your little headline is starting to have huge ramifications, isn't it?

I'm hoping for the first one, that she's come to the conclusion that you're rodent-adjacent, and will come out of this stronger than she went in.  That's certainly true of many women I've known who've become mothers.  But Kim?  Kim isn't known for her good choices.

Especially when it comes to her clothing.  Make fun of those ugly pants she was photographed in a few weeks ago, because god knows she needs to burn them, but leave her weight alone.

Because here's the other thing: every time you create this unrealistic expectation in celebrity culture, you are creating the same expectation in the women who read your magazine.  And let's face it: they're aren't the brightest bulbs to begin with if they think there's much truth behind your lurid headlines.  These women reproduce, and you've just given them a very skewed picture of what it means to grow a tiny human inside of you.

Stop.  Just stop.  Because there's a fresh place in hell just waiting for the likes of you.

Yr. mt. obd. & hmbl. svt.,