This is an excerpt from Please Like Me, BuzzFeed News’ newsletter about how influencers are battling for your attention. You can sign up here.
Khloé is in a body-conscious prison of her own making
Like any grandmother would, Mary Jo Shannon took a photo of her granddaughter, Khloé Kardashian. And while Khloé probably doesn’t want you to see it, I imagine you already have and are wondering: What’s the big deal?
If I added the photo to this newsletter — you know which one I’m talking about — I’d expect to hear directly from the lawyers for momager Kris Jenner's family.
The story as it has been narrated is that the unedited, unfiltered photo of Khloé was taken by her unassuming 86-year-old grandmother and uploaded to social media by an assistant, according to a statement from Tracy Romulus, the chief marketing officer for KKW Brands.
Not long after the photo went live on various social media pages, the Kardashian machinery embarked on a game of digital whack-a-mole to scrub the internet clean of it, issuing a DMCA (or Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notice and enforcing copyright protections.
As Romulus said, “Khloé looks beautiful but it is within the right of the copyright owner to not want an image not intended to be published taken down.”
Over the last few days, accounts big and small claimed their socials were temporarily blocked and tweets deleted, and some even received direct legal warnings in their inboxes.
Krystal Green, the user behind @KosmeticKrys on Twitter, was one of many accounts whose pages were temporarily suspended. Green told BuzzFeed News that she woke up to find her account had been locked and she'd received an email from legal representatives on behalf of MJ, who is named as the copyright holder.
“I have never had anyone’s legal team reach out to me to get anything taken down. I’ve never gotten suspended from Twitter for any copyright infringement, so this would be the first time that would happen,” Green said.
The photo she posted on Twitter was up for a total of eight hours and generated hundreds of thousands of impressions before it was removed.
Green, who is a plastic surgery consultant, is no stranger to talking about Khloé and the Kardashian family in general, as she is often asked to do deep dives on what cosmetic procedures or editing techniques she thinks they have used.
“I have plenty of threads where I have shown pictures of the Kardashians editing their bodies, or other celebrities, and just showing how you can identify Photoshop or glitches in videos because those can also be edited as well,” she said.
Green was eventually able to reclaim her account, which has more than 27,000 followers.
Simply put, the Kardashian/Jenner spectacle doesn’t work if they look like us. It doesn’t work if they look like “regular people.” No, instead, what we have are carefully curated images that borrow from various cultures, allowing the women of the family to shapeshift, which has inspired a legion of Kardashian/Jenner copycat influencers on smaller budgets.
In response to the frenzy, the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star released a four-slide statement accompanied by three videos of her flexing her “revenge body” to assure the same public whom she blames for her insecurities that she really is who she says she is.
“The photo that was posted this week is beautiful. But as someone who has struggled with body image her whole life, when someone takes a photo of you that isn’t flattering in bad lighting or doesn’t capture your body the way it is after working so hard to get it to this point - and then shares it to the world - you have every right to ask for it to not be shared - regardless of who you are,” she wrote. “It’s almost unbearable trying to live up to the impossible standards that the public have all set for me.”
This is where we have to take a pause; there is a disconnect between the messenger and the messaging.
Anybody who has watched enough episodes of their many reality shows, including Revenge Body, is more than familiar with the many complexes that exist for Khloé, who once joked about having body dysmorphic disorder and suggested that her entire family might too, but she was “kind of into it, as it keeps us on our A-game."
Whether this was simply in jest or a veiled admission, to talk about impossible standards when her family members themselves have created these standards, which are central to their fame and fortune, is both ironic and disappointing.
How could Kylie Jenner sell a $29 lip combo kit if her own pout didn’t kick-start trends and challenges? And could Kim market body foundation to hide imperfections if she weren’t the poster girl for being completely hairless and having skin like glass?
Khloé has marketed everything from weight loss shakes to waist trainers all in the name of a dollar. She has lamented the pressure of being perfect while not acknowledging the ways in which the Kardashian/Jenner collective have shaped the standard as we know them today.
Yet where there is an economic incentive, Khloé doesn’t seem to mind contributing to a culture of perfectionism, where waists are expected to be cinched and weight loss shakes replace food.
It’s worth emphasizing that mental illness doesn’t discriminate where class, gender, race, or privilege are concerned, and therefore it should never be minimized — but what does discriminate is access to treatment, help, and support.
The reality is that Khloé is in a body-conscious, hypercritical prison that is partially of her own making, and with every decision to edit, filter, airbrush, Facetune, distort, and divorce herself from her actual image, she further fortifies this prison.
Khloé has doubled down on her use of various editing techniques for her social media photos, likening them to other enhancements.
She wrote: “I love a good filter, good lighting and an edit here and there. The same way I throw on some make-up, get my nails done, or wear a pair of heels to present myself to the world the way I want to be seen and it’s exactly what I will continue to do unapologetically.”
At this point in time, it almost feels silly to continue to play this game. We know you don’t look like the image you portray, Khloé; you know it too. So when does the reality kick in that Khloé herself can’t keep up with the Kardashians, and that there is no shame in admitting it?
Wow, a truly perfect influencer partnership
When it was announced this week that Tabitha Brown, a renowned TikToker and vegan cook, was partnering with the Calm app to lend her voice to guided sleep meditations, I said, “About time.”
I hesitate to write about this deal too intently; this is not spon. This is me, for maybe one of the first times, acknowledging a partnership that seems to work so naturally and harmoniously in a capitalistic happy ending.
Brown has become a powerhouse personality, and a satisfying one to follow. Her brand is well conceived, and she sticks to what she knows. She has a wholesome, soothing presence. Her famous “Hello there” intro is like taking the first sip of soup as it warmly coats your belly.
In fact, prior to this partnership, people have long been saying they fall asleep while watching or listening to Brown’s videos. Which is why people are stoked by the announcement that a brand is giving them what they want. Of course, the bigger caveat is that brands ultimately get more, if not the most, out of this deal.
But amid an industry where influencers and brands will force anything together to haphazardly make a buck, this seemed like a natural, all-benefiting joint venture, especially for fans. Dare I say, it gives me a kind of corporate calm.
Until next time,