The Problem With Kim Kardashian's Idea Of "Positive Body Image"

Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/Getty Images.
No, we don't expect Kim Kardashian to be the one to lead us all to body-positivity enlightenment. Still, her conflation of "having a positive body image" and "having a hot body" is giving us a headache. Today, the mogul and mother of two graced subscribers to her website and app with a message on embracing her post-pregnancy curves — great! — that advances a brand of self-esteem that is based on how you look — not so great.

"Having a positive self-image has always been important to me because it affects so many aspects of my life," Kardashian begins. Fair enough — we're with you so far, Kim. "After I had North, there was a part of me that was nervous about whether I'd be able to get back to anywhere near my pre-pregnancy weight and feel confident again, since I was now 50 pounds heavier," she continues.

This is the part where you tell us that while you're proud of the improvements you've made in your fitness and health, you've also realized that confidence isn't contingent on losing 50 pounds, right? Not so much.

"I knew I had to put in a lot of work, but I got there," Kardashian writes — "there" ostensibly meaning both a "technically good physique," as Mean Girls' Janis Ian would put it, plus confidence based on having that physique. "After 10 months, I felt like I was even better than before." Not "thinner," not "more closely aligned with society's current standards of beauty," just "better."

There's nothing wrong with losing weight, necessarily. The danger arises when you confuse changing your appearance with accepting your body, and when your love for your body (and self) is contingent on your progress toward your "goal weight"; the cool thing about self-esteem is that even as your weight fluctuates, your opinion of yourself can remain the same.

"As North gets older, she'll start to be more aware of herself and her body," Kardashian adds. "Her attitude toward her body is directly related to my own, so it's my responsibility to make sure she understands that positive body image comes from having a healthy self-esteem." Again, agreed — but we're hoping that she also understands that "healthy self-esteem" has to do with much more than physical health and appearance.

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