Khloé Kardashian set off a wave of body image discourse last week when she released a statement about an untouched photo that was shared—then promptly taken down—on social media.
Most of her critics were frustrated with, well, the whole situation given that she and the rest of her family have spent their entire careers perpetuating unrealistic expectations about body image and self-worth. Honestly, that might even be a bit of an understatement. As one of the most recognizable figures in pop culture, Khloé’s influence is spread across so many different platforms, it’s hard to keep track of them all: there’s the reality shows (KUWTK and Revenge Body with Khloé Kardashian), the talk show Kocktails with Khloé, the partnerships with questionable brands like Flat Tummy Tea, plus her fashion label Good America, to name just a few.
We don’t need to review how Khloé and her family have impacted, for better or worse, beauty standards in our country and around the world—you know all about that already. Instead, we asked body positive influencers and activists to envision a future in which Khloé uses her platform responsibly—for good, even. Here’s what they said:
“For me, the most interesting part of the Khloé Kardashian situation is that fans really loved the unfiltered image. I too saw the picture and thought, ‘Wow, she looks beautiful.’ So to have someone who has essentially spent millions to be on the top of the ‘Societal Beauty Standard’ pyramid, then in turn say societal beauty standards are harmful—all while not only reinforcing the system but also profiting off of it—is jarring. You simply cannot both profit off these systems and then ask that you’re not a part of them.
“For anyone wanting to make a meaningful impact, my first suggestion is to look to community leaders, advocates, and educators. Within the fat liberation movement, which has now been commodified into what we call ‘body positivity,’ I would continue to point people to the political origins of the movement and to invest in fat, Black, queer, trans folks to continue your reeducation.” —Brianna McDonnell, influencer
“As a plus-size model and influencer for the past 10 years, I understand what it’s like to have your body picked apart online by strangers. I know it can be incredibly dehumanizing. Khloé has the opportunity to say, ‘I love my body and I don’t feel the need to change it to please other people. I wasn’t fat when I was called fat but even if I was, that wouldn’t be a bad thing. Fat does not mean ugly.’ This could be a powerful message coming from someone with such a huge following.
“I think Khloé should educate herself on the true meaning of body positivity. Pay the Black women like Sonya Renee Taylor who have been doing this work and learn about the harm she [herself] is doing.” —Alysse Dalessandro, model and influencer
“I’d love to see Khloé building relationships with thought leaders in the self-love space who can help inform her about the social implications of some of the social media posts and projects she takes on that perpetuate strict beauty ideals she herself have been harmed by. I truly do believe that Khloé could be a positive force and change agent in furthering the conversation around harmful beauty standards placed upon celebrities and women in general—she just has to be willing to educate herself and engage with the people in this space who are more than willing to welcome her.
“Can you imagine how powerful it would be to see a celebrity and household name like Khloé Kardashian launch a social campaign centered around sharing people’s personal stories—including her own—on the uncomfortable parts of their self-love journey and the lessons they’ve learned along the way? I think it would resonate with so many people who may be struggling with their own body hangups.” —Shammara Lawrence, freelancer and co-founder of the Power of Plus
“Khloé has capitalized off of fatphobia and deeply-rooted body insecurities for years. From her show Revenge Body to constantly promoting dangerous laxative products like Flat Tummy Tea and appetite suppressants, Khloé and her family have harmed many young women and men without a second thought. Going forward, I would love for Khloé to rethink her partnerships with these blatantly fatphobic and dangerous brands, and I’d like to see her offer a public comment on that. “I also want her to use her platform now to discuss this topic further, whether in interviews, through a campaign, or through Good American, which prides itself on inclusivity. It’s important to attack this conversation with nuance as Khloé is, in a way, a victim here, as well as a villain. But redemption is certainly possible, if she uses this moment as a launching pad to have broader conversations on body image.” —Gianluca Russo, writer and co-founder of the Power of Plus