An open letter to Kim Kardashian and her butt

Mary McDermott


Dear Kim Kardashian,

Like almost every other person on the planet with Internet access, I saw a bit more of you this week than I ever anticipated.This, I will note, happened without seeking out leaked photos or going on questionable websites. I found it on Facebook. I again saw it on Buzzfeed, and once again on Twitter and Instagram. Your bare butt took over every social media site I use and, like so many other people, I loved how appalled I could be with you in that moment.

First, I will state a few facts. You showed a lot of skin for your photo shoot with Paper magazine. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. You stated that your goal in doing this photo shoot in the first place was to “break the Internet,” a stupid phrase in itself that I will do my best to ignore. Finally, you are a mother of a one-year-old daughter. Kim, we have a lot to talk about.

More than anything else, you are famous for your backside. It is one of the few things that make you an iconic celebrity and part of what many people consider to make you particularly attractive. Your butt has become the ultimate sex symbol. Should I offer you my congratulations? Maybe I would have if I believed that you embrace your curves out of confidence in your body and pride in having a womanly figure. But your unnaturally small waist from wearing a corset makes me think otherwise. You might like your curves, but you also do not want your waistline to show that *gasp* you eat food. I heard a radio host describe your unnaturally small waist in proportion to your curves perfectly: “It looks like she’s on a diet of water and squats.” Another comment on your photo came with a visual aid comparing both the original photo and a Photoshopped version of what you might look like if you had a normal proportioned waist to the rest of your measurements. The very fact that someone felt the need to do this is laughable. It is pathetic that seeing a photo of you with a normal waistline makes you look fat. Had I been shown the mock-up version followed by the actual Paper photo, I might have thought that the latter was the Photoshopped version.

Part of me thinks that I should stop talking about your body and body image. Women deal with that enough. But once again, the fact that you openly discussed an ability to balance a champagne glass on your backside as true talent makes me think that this is the kind of attention you were going for in the first place. You said back in 2011 that you would never pose nude again after an embarrassment with a shoot for Vogue, so apparently something changed your mind. One rumor has it that this might be a last hurrah before you try to have another child. I’m not sure what this proves then, other than anticipated shame of a pregnant body. 

Was this what you dreamed of growing up to be when you were a little girl? When you were 11, did you hope to some day reveal your naked body to the world? Maybe you did. But since I’m on the topic of young women, I should probably mention your daughter, North West. Of course you’d want her to follow in mommy’s footsteps and bare all for a magazine cover when she’s older, right? You are your daughter’s role model, whether you want to be or not. 

You could have helped to reframe the culture of negative body image for her. But instead, you chose to teach her that it’s okay to have curves, but you still need to train your waist to the size of a Victoria’s Secret model’s. You chose to teach her that in order to get attention, she should use her body rather than her mind or her talent. You are teaching your daughter that it is okay for her sexuality to be the defining characteristic of who she is.

As I said before, your butt is iconic. It is your defining physical characteristic, and by extension, your sexuality is your defining personal characteristic. If that is all you want people to see you as, then I guess that is okay. But I do not think that anyone knows much else about you beyond your sexuality. And describing you with “characteristics” is more fitting than anything else because that is just what you are: a “character.” You are a character with exaggerated features in both your personality and physique. Years from now, people will not remember anything about who you are as a person. Last I checked you have no particular talent, other than the ever-elusive “talent of being famous.” Years from now, people will not remember anything you said on “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” or what you did at this or that event. They will remember what you looked like in curve-hugging clothing. They will remember your butt. If this is what you wanted, then your photo shoot certainly sealed the deal. If it’s not, I suggest getting the best PR team you can afford.