Posted by: Dan | April 2, 2016

A Tale of Two Kims: when you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL

Apparently Kim Kardashian caused a bit of a ruckus by posting this selfie with the line “when you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL”.
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N2Wa
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At first I thought maybe I would replicate the picture, as I’ve done with other pictures of Kim or celebrities like Miley Cyrus.  It’s part of how I question cultural constructs of gender.  I find it amusing to explore how people react to an average-looking man in his mid-thirties posing in ways that are ubiquitous in images we see of women who are in their early twenties (or any age, really, as long as their body matches with cultural constructs of female beauty).  But, as I thought about it all, I ended up getting sad.

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Kim’s picture and the caption, “when you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL,” reminded me of when pimps used to strip sex workers who didn’t bring home enough money and make them walk completely naked from one end of the stroll to the other (I assume this kind of thing still happens on the regular in various circles, but I’m not as close to the streets as I used to be… and the streets are different where I am now than where I’ve been before). Those gals really did have nothing to wear.
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The first time I was so stunned by what I saw that I did nothing. Nobody else did anything either. And a naked woman walked at an even pace, one foot in front of the other, with her chin up but her eyes down. The second time, a church group engaging in some poverty tourism pointed and giggled at the naked woman walking by (I’ve learned that a good portion of alms-giving Christian men are going to ogle the street-involved women — especially the teenagers — while they do so, and then probably think about them later when they’re fucking their wives), and people in cars honked their horns, but I wasn’t so stunned as to not act. I gave the woman my shirt and, as I was doing so, another sex worker stopped and gave the woman an extra pair of pants (which, I’ll be honest, I was relieved about because I liked the pants I was wearing… which makes me a lot more like Kim Kardashian than anyone good in this story).
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Kim’s picture also reminded me of others, like the napalmed gal in the picture from Vietnam, who also had nothing to wear.
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“Too hot!  Too hot!” she screamed as even the skin peeled from over a third of her body.
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(When you’re like I have nothing to wear not even my skin LOL.)
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Of course, that’s an old picture and everyone has seen it (it won a Pulitzer) and, really, unless you’re a teenager seeing it for the first time, most of us kinda just pass it by like other people on the sidewalk passed by the naked sex workers who walked without running or fainting or crying out.
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But me, there’s something wrong with me.  I don’t get over these things.
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By the way, the little girl in the photo?  Her name is Kim Phuc.  At the age of 52 she received some laser treatment to help reduce the scar tissue on her body from the napalm the Americans dropped on her.  This is what she looked like after some of the treatments.
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Her body, which has been in pain every day since we bombed her, also does not get over such things (I have added her name to that of Cindy Gladue, Cherisse Houle, Helen Betty Osborne, Tina Fontaine and the names of other missing and murdered Indigenous women that I am working on memorizing and reciting like a litany in my head — let my right hand forget its strength, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you).
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So, while some of Kim Kardashian’s friends offer “nude solidarity” and present the world with images of bodies with large breasts, full lips, small waists, and flat abs (like her supermodel friend who got famous for being a music video for a song that promoted rape… and which ended up being one of the best-selling singles of all time), I think it’s this image of Kim P.’s naked back that, perhaps, can help us better ask questions about the “liberation” and “empowerment” Kim K. claims when she posts pictures of her naked front online.
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Because, for whatever reason, I think Kim Kardashian actually does believe that she is helping make the world a better place for women.  I’m not sure if she already believed this or if the belief came after she leaked her sex tape (with her mom’s help? what kind of chance did she have in life, I wonder — I guess things can go a different direction when you are stripped naked and walk the street and people respond by calling you powerful and strong and desirable and instead of drawing back throw mountains of the best branded clothing and mountains of money at you).  Regardless, she seems to believe this, even as she openly mocks the bodies of women who do not match up to her culturally constructed standards.
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Many others (mostly women) have taken issue with Kim K. on this point and I don’t think there’s much for me (as a man) to add to any of that, except, perhaps, to draw attention to this:
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