It was uploaded by mistake. And the photo seemed to be reminiscent of every old Kardashian snapshot: a dreamy setting, perfectly manicured nails, and a fashionable bikini.
How is it different from Khloe Kardashian’s usual posts? This photo was with no obvious changes, filters, or photoshopping. It was quickly deleted and her team reportedly tried to make it go away, a reaction the 36-year-old reality star addressed directly.
“The photo posted this week is beautiful. But as someone who has struggled with body image all their life when someone takes a picture of you that is not flattering in low light or that doesn’t capture your body like that for who it is After you’ve worked so hard to get it to this point – and then make it available to the world – you should have the right to request that it not be shared – regardless of who you are “wrote Kardashian.
The “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” star recognized her own struggle with body image – part of it resulted from “every single mistake and imperfection” being analyzed and “poked fun” by the public.
“You never quite get used to being judged and pulled apart and saying how unattractive you are, but I’ll say if you hear something enough you will start to believe it,” she said. “So I was conditioned to feel that I am not beautiful enough just to be myself.”
Kardashian isn’t the only one feeling the pressure to meet beauty standards.
“Because these standards cannot be met, women feel below average, which can easily lead to body image concerns.” says Naomi Torres-Mackie, PhD, research director with the Mental Health Coalition. “We know from countless psychology studies that a negative body image affects mental well-being in terms of self-esteem, interpersonal relationships and daily functioning.”
She adds that the pressure to look perfect can lead to eating disorders. In the United States, 30 million people will experience an eating disorder at some point in their life.
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“Although there has been a lot of talk about body positivity lately, the prevailing narrative is to hide any imperfections at all costs,” says Torres-Mackie.
However, this can send a dangerous message to young fans, says Marla Deibler, a psychologist and executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Center for Emotional Health.
“By openly removing images that are imperfect (celebrities), they are sending a message that imperfection is unacceptable and perhaps even embarrassing or shameful for their followers,” says Deibler.
This can keep up the pressure to seek unrealistic realities from followers who may develop unhealthy beliefs about themselves, she adds.
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However, experts say that when celebrities share “honest” photos, it can be beneficial. Cassandra Bankson, a medical esthetician with over 1 million YouTube subscribers, told USA TODAY in January that unedited photos serve as “a humbling reminder that we are all human”.
On the flip side, constant exposure to highly edited photos can undermine self-esteem by blurring the lines between reality and idealism, says Kemi Balogun, associate professor of sociology and gender at the University of Oregon.
Balogun notes that many celebrities create an illusion of “effortless” perfection that contradicts the reality that most of these photos have been carefully curated.
“If photos are filtered or changed in such a way that certain flaws are not highlighted, it has a negative effect on self-esteem,” says Balogun and creates an “ongoing dialogue in which you are constantly criticizing yourself.”
She says people may be forced to use Photoshop or filters to hide perceived imperfections “because they are conditioned by social and media images to believe that these are norms to ascribe to”. The key, however, is to become aware of the fact that these photos often do not reflect reality.
By acknowledging that they often don’t appear the way they do on social media, they can “look more critically at these posts” and see the beauty of their own natural, unfiltered body.
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How to fight the pressure to be perfect
If you are experiencing negative emotions related to your body image, here are some tips to help you build your confidence and engage with body positivity.
- Don’t follow the social media accounts that make you feel bad about yourself.
- Reduce the total time you spend on social media.
- Practice stopping yourself before making self-deprecating comments or comparing yourself to others.
- Sometimes it seems impossible to constantly love all aspects of your body. Remind yourself that having a balanced view is the healthiest way of looking at yourself.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline at 1-800-931-2237 and send the text “NEDA” to 741-741.