Reviews | Acceptance of the body is a means of anti-capitalist resistance
Kim Kardashian was recently seen with a little one backand Internet Theorists Think She Dissolved Her Brazilian Butt Lift, or BBL for short. I usually abhor our culture’s obsession with women’s bodies, but today I’m talking in detail about Kim Kardashian’s butt.
In fact, I’m talking about every woman’s body. I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t hate a part of her body, myself included. Studies show that around 50% of 13-year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies, and that number skyrockets to 80% by age 17. 60% of middle-aged women think they are too heavy. Americans spend more than $16 billion in cosmetic surgeries per year, and in 2020 there was a 66% increase in hospital admissions for eating disorders. Our body shame is a public health crisis.
The body shame epidemic thrives on late capitalism. With this, I offer an antidote to our misery – if you wish to grasp society’s tools of oppression, your most radical means of resistance is self-love.
What was our world before the Kardashians? The 90s were all about the boning of Kate Moss, who was famous noted, “Nothing tastes as good as the lean sensation.” Britney Spears’ performance at the VMAs in 2001 woke up the nation with tight abs and low-rise jeans. Then Michelle Obama inspired an era of toned arms. This brings us to the 2010sthe age of “Anaconda”, “All About That Bass” and Kim K breaking the internet.
Today, the world’s most influential style icon is getting a new body. Again, why is this important? Note the timing of this alleged BBL reversal. We are living the beginning of Y2K nostalgia. Brands are selling Britney’s infamous “Dump Him” shirt. Low-rise jeans are back. We’re looking at hot pink and butterfly clips. Britney is free, but achieving her aesthetic is not.
The cycle of fast fashion, toxic to the environment and ethics markets hordes of cheap, mass-produced clothes, generating huge profits for companies such as Shein, Forever 21 and H&M. Your wardrobe may change, but the body you’ve developed yourself is a permanent fixture. And yet, permanent accessories should go in and out of fashion like skinny jeans.
What happens when your body is no longer ideal? Of course, you’re not a full-time super-rich person. You buy the resistance bands and the booty pads and the waist trainer and those ab enhancers that don’t work. If you’re not a fitness expert, which most people aren’t, you’ll probably hire a personal trainer, join a gym, or employ a dietitian. To provide you with these products and services, you work for hours, leaving no time to exercise like a celebrity.
So you don’t have the butt, but thinness is timeless, right? So you buy Kourtney Kardashian appetite suppressant lollipops and Keto snacks and $300 juice. Maybe you are starving yourself. Maybe you’re gorging and purging. You spend thousands and torture yourself for the perfect body. But is it YOUR someone else’s perfect or ideal body?
Society’s standards of beauty did not appear out of thin air. Corporations have stoked women’s insecurities for centuries. Sleeveless dresses were all the rage in 1915. Gillette, which had previously only sold men’s razors, published an ad stating that “the armpits should be as smooth as the face” to complement sleeveless dresses, expanding their customer base to include women. Have women thought, “Hmmm, are my hairy armpits gross, or is this company selling me a new insecurity?”” Of course not. That was in 1915, and the expression “reading the theory” did not exist.
Those millions of dollars line the pockets, unsurprisingly, of wealthy white people — usually men. From 2020, white men make up 85.8% of Fortune 500 CEOsand white women make up 6.8%, making white people 92.6% of all Fortune 500 CEO. And Kim Kardashian, a white woman worth an estimated $1 billionenjoy a aesthetic it has been a source of shame and oppression for black women for years. Capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy thrive hand in hand as they devise new ways to control and demean marginalized bodies. And that should piss you off.
Let that anger fuel bold self-love. The oppressors of society want you to look in the mirror and hate every ounce of fat. But why should you hate what sustains you? Your body can sing, dance, cuddle and jump for joy, so treat it with grace and dignity. Eat what gives you energy. Work, not for the aesthetics but for the endorphins. And above all, acknowledge your joy as a socio-political superpower.
Paige Wasserman (her) writes about the arts, pop culture, campus culture, and the things that make her want to scream. You can reach her at [email protected].