opinion

MIA FREEDMAN: Kim Kardashian and the ‘ideal’ body in 2022.

I’ve just started watching The Kardashians and I don’t think I’ve ever been so late to a party.

Guys, I think these women could become really famous one day. Write that down.

Keeping Up with The Kardashians started more than 10 years ago and I’ve resisted watching it for reasons I’ll go into another time but for the purpose of this story, I want to talk about the Kardashians' bodies and how they have redefined a beauty standard for an entire generation. 

Specifically, Kim, whose body is hard to find the right adjectives to describe.

In the latest episode of the show, Kim flies to LA for a swimsuit Sports Illustrated magazine shoot and speaks a lot about what an honour it is to be featured on the cover.

Celebrities do this a lot. 

It’s a kind of humble brag, saying that you’re ‘honoured’ because let’s be honest, the decision to put a celebrity on a cover and the agreement of that celebrity to do the shoot is purely about economics and mutual benefit.

In this case, it’s good for the magazine because Kim is possibly the most famous woman in the world and she shines marketing attention on any brand adjacent to her.  

For Kim, she gets to market her SKIMS swimsuit lines as well as create some content for her TV show. Everyone’s a winner in this value exchange.

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Watch the trailer for The Kardashians. Post continues below. 


Video via Mamamia

Given that it’s a swimsuit shoot, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for me to describe her body because that’s kind of the point. Kim knows her body is part of her brand and utilises it as such.

No judgement. Has she had extensive plastic surgery on her face and body? Yes, she admits it.

So I understand that comparing her body to one that exists without surgery is challenging because it’s apples and oranges. And yet we still do, even if we don’t realise we’re doing it.

The Kardashian sisters, led by Kim, have redefined the current ‘ideal’ body shape for women in a way that can’t be ignored or underestimated.

Long dark hair, a big bum and hips, a tiny waist, big, dark eyes and inflated lips have become the beauty standard and if you don’t believe me, go anywhere where there are groups of women in their 20s. 

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I don’t fit this new standard. Most women don’t. 

Somehow my bottom is becoming more square as I get older and I don’t even know why. It’s certainly quite flat which used to be a beauty standard but now is the opposite of what’s widely considered ‘hot’.

This is the danger of beauty standards. Those slippery f*ckers change constantly.

When I was in my early twenties, the standard was a supermodel. Claudia Schiffer and Cindy Crawford represented all the glamazons with big boobs who stalked down runways with big hair and lots of teeth.

Civilian women took note and scurried off to get boob jobs or buy Wonderbras. 

Next came the Kate Moss waifs, whose heroin chic aesthetic was all about sunken faces, slouched posture and protruding bones. Frailty was hot. 

Civilian women took note and starved.

After that, came the athletic look. Sinewy arms and ripped abs like Jennifer Aniston. Civilian women took note and hit the gym hard.

And now it’s the Kardashians with their bountiful bottoms and women are getting BBLs - Brazilian butt lifts where fat is sucked out of one part of your body and injected into your bum.

The moral of the story is this: chasing a body ideal is ultimately fruitless because it will change. If you have permanently or even temporarily altered your body with surgery or destroyed your metabolism by starving yourself… what happens when the culture moves on and leaves your body behind?

To index our self-worth to an externally prescribed ideal is a path to madness and even though I know this, I’m not going to pretend I haven’t been wondering where my bottom went or how I might be able to get it back. 

And when I look at the Kardashian women, I think to myself, what a lot of pressure.

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Feature Image: Canva / @kimkardashian / Getty

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