Well, Kim Kardashian caused quite a stir yesterday, didn't she?
She has yet to actually break the Internet, despite some admirable attempts, but she sure did crack open a fault line Monday between those who no longer blink when social media reveals its latest spoils and those who can't wait to pounce when they sniff out a scapegoat on which to pin society's ills.
Kim, who's probably one of the most polarizing non-political figures on the planet, may have won herself even more critics who think they've got her figured out when she posted a throwback nude selfie on Instagram late Sunday night.
Could there be a more eyebrow-flattening statement of fact than "Kim Kardashian shared a nude picture of herself"?
Apparently not. You'd think the image had been beamed into everyone's homes like a message from the Capitol in The Hunger Games.
We've had access to an even more naked Kim when she posed—front and back—for Paper magazine almost a year and a half ago. Moreover, this picture that has everyone's knickers in a twist isn't even new, the subsequent posting of an admitted #TBT in which she has the same blond locks as in the nude pic (to differentiate from her more recent foray into blondness for New York Fashion Week) pretty much confirming that the "new" naked shot was indeed a year old.
Jean-Paul Goude/Paper Magazine
And yet the naysayers poured forth in force, with the previously silent, such as Chloe Grace Moretz, unwittingly joining forces with the perennially critical Piers Morgan to make much ado about nothing.
Specifically, nothing new for Kim. But really, nothing new in general. Because those who are all of a sudden throwing shade at the E! star are just trotting out a very convenient point of contention that they would never bother to apply to the likes of someone they hadn't already branded as overexposed.
Or at least, not in the same way.
The hyperbolic response even sucked the usually rather conflict-averse Kim into taking a page from husband Kanye West's playbook and going to town on Twitter, including making some pointed responses to Chloë, Piers and Bette Midler (who she's now more or less in a feud with).
Reading my comments like....LOL pic.twitter.com/hQ4fVu9Aq6— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) March 8, 2016
sorry I'm late to the party guys I was busy cashing my 80 million video game check & transferring 53 million into our joint account 🤑🤑🤑💰💰💰— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) March 8, 2016
Society has historically enjoyed getting pissed off by other people's nudity in a variety of ways. Surely not everyone was cool with what the Renaissance wrought, what with all those man and lady bits painted all over the walls and ceilings 'n' stuff, or the magnificent David towering over everybody in all his nude glory. Playboy and Penthouse have had their lifelong detractors since inception. And Demi Moore, who posed nude while very pregnant for the cover of Vanity Fair in 1991, must be so sorry she was so ahead of her time she missed the age of Twitter.
We can only imagine what form of vitriol would've sprung from social media in reaction to those examples, which now are just a part of humanity's cultural history.
Critics didn't know what to hate first—the magazine and photographer Annie Leibovitz (who shot Moore's cover and, over the years, a zillion other nudes, male and female), for over-sexualizing the women and thereby making them seem submissive to the dressed-up dude; Ford for going along with it; or the actresses themselves for either daring to go bare or, like Ford, just showing up. As if anyone forced Johansson and Knightley to disrobe. Rachel McAdams was famously supposed to be a part of that shoot but she decided the nudity wasn't for her.
Point being, it's ideally a woman's choice what she chooses to expose or not (not all of the world agrees, but that's not this conversation), and conduits like Instagram have allowed the collective Us to share more—whenever, wherever—than anyone could've imagined just a few years ago.
Some stars have decided that sharing a lot is for them, and others have not. Kim is hardly alone, though a lot of haters set out to make her feel that way over the past 24 hours—to whom she replied with a resounding second nude portrait.
To be fair to the trolls, Kim's also not alone in being the target of criticism. Haters have many, many targets, and no one—be it Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian, Chrissy Teigen and Demi Lovato, breastfeeding proponents Gisele Bündchen and Alyssa Milano or showboaters James Franco and Geraldo Rivera—escapes unscathed when they dare to share.
Kim gets a bad rap, though, for going too far. For some reason, yesterday's post triggered more hand-wringing than usual. An overreaction in any case, yes, but what was it? Unlucky timing? It wasn't a full moon...literally...
Regardless, there is a double standard at play, brought to you by the same society that also begged Instagram to #FreeTheNipple.
Kim played by the rules and covered the parts of her pics that would've gotten them yanked by censors. In fact, she plays by a lot of unspoken rules that we should be able to take for granted but can't.
She willingly admitted that her October 2013 swimsuit selfie that shook the world (either that, or L.A. had a 3.2 that night) was indeed a middle finger to those who had appointed themselves judge and jury of her body while she was pregnant with North West. Kim is vocal about wanting to look a certain way and honest about getting down on herself when she doesn't. That may not on its face sound inspiring, but people can't always be inspiring, even the famous ones.
Sometimes reality stars are only human, and if it sounds strange to you that humans may one day be feeling crappy and want to cover up, and the next day are feeling so pumped they want the world to see what's possible in the booty department... Then congratulations on being able to feel the exact same way every day.
Just as we should be appreciative of the freedom we have to "like" or "dislike" people we've never even met for arbitrary reasons, we should also appreciate the freedom that we—and they—have that enables them to post naked pics when the mood strikes. Personal choice can only make for so much of an epidemic.
Oh, and one more thing. No one's making you look.