celebrity

Kim Kardashian isn't the enemy. But she does owe us an explanation for how her waist looks.

When Kim Kardashian and her waist stepped onto the millennial pink carpet at the 2019 Met Gala on Tuesday, time stood still.

A seemingly indifferent Kanye West beside her, the entrepreneur, fashion icon and Keeping Up with the Kardashians reality TV star looked impeccable in a House of Mugler silicon and silk organza nude dress.

Every detail of the 38-year-old’s Met Gala look was immaculately planned, from her transparent open-toed mules and slicked back hair made to look like she’d just emerged from the ocean, to the way she posed her arms and fingers to give off the illusion she was dripping with sparkling crystals.

Immediately, my eyes were drawn to the one detail I was meant to notice first. Her waist.

Image: Getty.
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Image: Getty.
Image: Getty.
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Image: Getty.

We all know what Kim Kardashian's body looks like. It's appeared in our Instagram feeds more times than you can count (or would like). But this time, her waist looked noticeably different. In pop culture terms, she was waist snatching: cinching or drawing in one's waist beyond 'normal' proportions.

Further accentuated by the wet-look silicone fabric that clung to her figure, shirt-like buttons and precise ruching featured down the centre of the gown, and the belt tied at the front in a neat bow, Kim's waist looked tiny.

Distorted, even. Like it defied the laws of physics and everything we know about the human body.

The longer I stared at it, the less it made sense to me. And the angrier I felt. How many more times will I have to face an image from the Kardashians that represents a body ideal I'll never physically be able to obtain?

I'm not alone in my initial criticisms of the way Kim presented her body shape with her Met Gala costume. On social media, the reactions ranged from anger - that a Kardashian once again went and moved the goal posts for what the perfect body is meant to look like - right through to blind awe.

Above any commentary on the dress itself or how well she fit the Met Gala's 'Camp' theme was a curiosity to know:

Exactly how is it possible for someone's waist to look like that? 

According to Kim's personal trainer Melissa Alcantara, hours in the gym will get you that waist. She felt the need to defend her client's body on her Instagram stories, saying:

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“To make things clear. 1. This dress is corseted BUT 2. Kim trains her a– off 6 days a f—— week, she wakes up early af and is dedicated. 3. I paved the road for her but SHE did the work! I love compliments either way. MOST IMPORTANTLY, I don’t give a s— about your opinions on her body if you think she fake or not! I see her every morning, I see her train and I see her sweat and I see all the work she does outside of the gym and THAT is commendable!"

Kim Kardashian trainerCredit: Melissa Alcantara/Instagram
Image: Melissa Alcantara/Instagram.

Before we get into the debatable logistics of Kim's waist circumference, which likely involves said dedicated training, here's some important context:

After much speculation, we now know Kim wore a corset under her House of Mugler couture gown. We know this because, in a behind-the-scenes video from Vogue showing the extent of Kim's Met Gala prep, no fewer than three men can be seen tugging and pulling at the strings of a flesh-coloured corset tightening around her body.

(You can watch a snippet of the video below, post continues after video. You can watch the full Kim Kardashian West Gets Fitted for Her Waist-Snatching Met Gala Look video on Vogue's YouTube channel here.)

Video via Vogue
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Then, there's the historical references behind the House of Mugler couture dress, which is reported to have brought designer Manfred Thierry Mugler out of semi-retirement.

The gown took eight months to conceptualise and construct, and was the first piece designed for House of Mugler by the fashion house's namesake designer in 20 years. Speaking to Vogue, Kim said the French designer had a vision for her to be a "California girl stepping out of the ocean, wet, dripping".

When you look at the image that inspired the design - Sophia Loren wearing a wet shirt dress in the 1957 film Boy on a Dolphin - you can see where the waist motif comes from.

Sophia Loren
Image: Getty.

Mr Mugler is also known for creating this cinched waist silhouette in his previous works. The New York Times defined his design aesthetic as "wide-shouldered, wasp-waisted, body-conscious", which "helped redefine the female silhouette in the late 1980s".

According to the designer's corset maker Mr Pearl, Mr Mugler has always had a "thirst for the ultimate silhouette".

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In 2019, the 'perfect silhouette' now belongs to Kim Kardashian.

But when you look at images of Kim's waist on the Met Gala red carpet through a contextual lens, it's easier to separate them from reality and view them as a piece or art, and she, as a designer's muse.

Without context, we can only see an image as it's presented to us. In this case, a woman with an unattainable hip-to-waist ratio.

So, whose responsibility is it to provide us with this context? To give us the history and the story behind the outfit that helps us to understand Kim's waist isn't real?

When you're someone like Kim Kardashian, with a minimum influence of over 137 million Instagram followers, the responsibility is yours.

Tell us that your waist was manipulated. Tell us, explicitly, that you were wearing a corset so tight underneath the dress that you weren't able to eat, drink, sit or pee for the entire evening.

You are accountable for the image you present to the world, and in a world that looks increasingly shiny from the outside, being accountable means being transparent. Being honest.

To play devil's advocate: does Kim K owe us anything, and if so, what kind of precedent would that set? Should the average woman walking down the street be obliged to tell us about her breast augmentation surgery or exactly how many units of filler she's had injected into her face?

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It's a valid argument, but one that prompts an important comparison. The difference between a Kardashian walking the Met Gala red carpet with a manufactured body shape and the average woman with Botox is, only one of them is making money here.

When you literally commodify parts of your body and profit from the images you're putting out there (nothing wrong with doing that... remember in 2017 when Kim reportedly made US $1 million in the first hour after releasing her KKW fragrance line with three bottles shaped like her naked body?), your body is a business. Therefore, you can be held accountable to the same ethical expectations every other brand should adhere to.

Since walking the Met Gala red carpet, thousands of images of Kim and her waist have trickled down into our social media feeds and onto our TV screens. The impact of this shouldn't be underestimated.

Images aren't just images when, like the many of Kim showing her tiny waist, are out there for all of us to consume without context.

The everyday person who stumbles upon this image while scrolling, or screenshots and sends it to a friend, might not know about the corset underneath, or how it probably wasn't any fun to wear.

What they think they might know, though, is that Kim Kardashian wears a waist trainer everyday to give her the perfect hourglass figure.

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She also sucks on appetite suppressant lollipops, which must work if she's endorsed them on her Instagram. Oh, and she drinks flat stomach teas and meal replacement shakes too.

 

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#ad I'm really obsessed with waist training! Thank you @premadonna87 for my new waist shapers! #whatsawaist

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A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

They might've even read an article or heard a friend say Kim had a rib or two removed to achieve that Barbie-like hip-to-waist ratio.

So maybe, waist trainers and diet lollipops and skinny teas and major surgery is how you get a waist like hers...

It might sound extreme to say a reasonable, rational person with smarts could ever think Kim Kardashian's waist at the Met Gala, and whatever means she used to get it, are normal.

But really, there's nothing reasonable or rational about the way images of women's bodies online can make us feel down about our own.

Kim can waist snatch all she wants... as long as she's upfront about it.

What did you think of Kim Kardashian's Met Gala 2019 appearance? Do you think celebrities are obliged to be honest about their appearance? Tell us why/why not in the comments!

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