Gloria Steinem Defends Kim Kardashian

STORY BY Emily Kirkpatrick

Published: May 8, 2013

Kim Kardashian seems to always be at the center of every major tabloid story. Considering she does little else besides capitalize on her reality stardom, it seems a perfectly logical extension of her brand. However, with the arrival of her unexpected pregnancy, these gossip columns have taken on an even harsher, more judgemental tone than usual. For months now, it seems every trashy magazine cover has been agonizing over Kim K’s never-ending battle with her ballooning pregnancy weight. As though it’s completely unusual for a pregnant woman’s body to gain weight, or even change shape for that matter.

A graph on Buzzfeed this past week even pointed out that Kim has been called “fat” in headlines 37% more often than before she became pregnant. Buzzfeed’s data team analyzed articles published by over two-thousand of their partner sites looking for Kim’s name appearing in headlines side-by-side with key words such as “fat,” “whale,” “weight gain,” and even “big Kim.” The results were that her name appeared with those terms only 100 times before Kanye announced her pregancy, and 137 times in the first four months of her pregnancy. (If the media thinks the first four months of pregnancy are when a woman is at her “fattest,” they’re in for a big surprise.)

However, one positive thing that has come out of all of this pregnancy shaming, is that Kim Kardashian has finally found some outspoken support in some very unexpected places. At the fourth annual Diane Von Furstenberg Awards, Us Weekly (one of the biggest perpetrators of the covers mentioned above) spoke to Gloria Steinem about Kim and she gave them a sound lesson in how women’s bodies should be treated and portrayed in the media. Steinem said, “Our bodies are never public property under any circumstance. It's wrong, and people in the street who feel the right to touch a pregnant woman's belly ought to be arrested for harassment. Our bodies belong to us, and if we don't invite touching, we shouldn't tolerate it.”

Likewise, Kim Kardashian’s pregnant body is hers, and fundamentally no one else’s business. A difficult lesson that not only starlets and tabloid sensations have trouble coming to grips with, but all women. Last year, Steinem spoke with Oprah and a group of students from Barnard to discuss female body image, telling them, “"We are supposed to internalize this ideal that if we just look different, we would get more pay and we're made to feel that our bodies are ornaments, not instruments. Boys are told their bodies are instruments." 

Others have also spoken out about Kardashian’s tabloid treatment, with Helena Christensen calling the tabloids “disgusting and despicable” for their harassment and “public bullying,” while Gweneth Paltrow told ET Online that women have to support each other through pregnancy.

In the end, whether you disagree with the tabloid’s take on Kim’s pregnancy or not, I’ve always thought another statement Steinem made to the New York Daily News in regards to the Kardashian sisters sums it up best: “There’s no point in blaming the people who take advantage of the system without changing the system."

Other Stories by Emily Kirkpatrick
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