Above image: Image from Wikimedia Commons (no attribution required)
With Kim Kardashian West having 120 million followers on Instagram, there is no doubt that she is one of the biggest social media influencers in fashion, beauty and most importantly exploiting their bodies. She navigates the changing media landscape with expert precision, and her constant presence across both mainstream and social media only reinforces her power and popularity.1
Kim Kardashian West can be labelled as one of the world’s biggest female fashion icons, a woman in which many others look up to and inspire to be like. In January 2018, statistics showed that Kim Kardashian West had the 6th most Instagram followers, trailing in at 106 million.2 However, what many seem to be oblivious to is the fact that with the extensive amount of money Kim Kardashian West has, she is able to construct her image and body to however she wishes. This exploiting this concept to her fans that a figure like hers can be achieved without going under the knife, an extremely false accusation.
Audiences are exploited by Instagram users conveying messages that their bodies are entirely real with no form of plastic surgery. In some cases, it may be true that the women we see on Instagram do naturally possess a desired figure, which some may deem as ‘perfect’ or ‘ideal’. However, in most cases what we see on Instagram is a form of false consciousness. Instagram is a platform where we constantly compare ourselves to others. This forwarding women to make changes to their bodies, especially those from a young age.
As mentioned by Grazia, 2017, some companies have been known to pay Kim up to $500,000 to share branded posts.3 One of the most recent criticism of Kim’s influential Instagram posts relating to body image, would be social media’s blow up of her lollipop diet ad in partnership with Flat Tummy Co. A company which sells diet products, such as the appetite suppressant lollipops. The post was soon deleted shortly after due to the extensive amount of criticism Kim received from many body advocates. Presenter Jameela Jamil labelled Kim as “a terrible and toxic influence on young girls.”4
It can be suggested that Kim has become such an influence in promoting a specific body type that women are constructing their own body image to replicate hers. This highlights this ideal of a ‘slim thick’ figure, consisting of a tiny waist, curvaceous hips and a big bum. However, these photos of her figure are completely cellulite and stretch mark free, and audience’s question whether what we see on Instagram is even a reflection of true reality. In most cases these photos are entirely photo shopped, and edited professionally. What we see on Kim’s Instagram feed is a simple form of false conciousness. This therefore promoting a figure which is completely edited and unnatural and realistically unachievable to post in just one shot.
The exploitation of this particular figure, not only from Kim but her other sisters Khloe and Kylie, perpetuates this ideology that again, in order to be accepted and seen as attractive and ‘celebrity like’ in society, your body shape needs to look like the Kardashian family. As “exposure to Instagram images of attractive celebrities led to greater negative mood and body dissatisfaction”5
In theory, this is a figure which very few or minimal women naturally possess. This therefore not only promotes the desire to have this particular figure, but forwards women’s desires to construct their body through plastic surgery in order to gain this acceptance and be perceived by society as sexy.
Other Instagram influencers
The ideology of women constructing their bodies has become very evident in todays westernised society. Instagram influencers and Geordie Shore stars, Chloe Ferry and Holly Hagan, have transformed their bodies through surgery closely replicating the iconic Kardashian ‘slim- thick’ figure. This highlights just how much power the Kardashians have in forwarding the desire for women to completely change their body image. Women have an intense desire to spend thousands to resemble these Instagram influencer stars.
Another recent Instagram post by the Geordie Shore star which illustrates the power of commodity and false advertising on social media, would be the promotion of the ‘premfit’ fitness product. This is a form of false advertising, where Chloe’s figure was achieved by surgery and not through fitness results, or fitness products. Chloe is being payed to promote a deceiving and unnatural figure. If this particular body image wasn’t plastered all over Kim’s Instagram, then realistically we can question whether others would even want to change theirs.
In conclusion, Kim Kardashian can be labelled as one of the biggest female influencers on social media in implementing ideologies on body image, plastic surgery and beauty standards in society.