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Khloe Kardashian

Khloé Kardashian responds to criticism over unedited photo controversy

The star has spoken out to defend her right to edit images and share how years of ridicule over her appearance ‘has been too much to bear’

Khloé Kardashian has spoken out about the toll that years of judgement and criticism of her body and appearance have taken on her self-esteem, following controversy over an unedited picture.

It all started earlier this week when a beautiful photograph of Kardashian appeared on social media. The image showed her looking relaxed and happy, make-up free and glowing, standing in front of her pool in a leopard print bikini. It was the kind of candid image that we rarely see from the Kardashian family these days – unpolished, unedited, and filter-free – and unfortunately, because of this, Kardashian has been doing what she can to remove it from the internet.

Shortly after the photo started circulating, the star’s team began making efforts to urge Instagram and Twitter accounts to take it down, claiming that the photo infringed her copyright, having accounts frozen, and threatening legal action. “The colour edited photo was taken of Khloé during a private family gathering and posted to social media without permission by mistake by an assistant,” Tracy Romulus, chief marketing officer for KKW Brands, told Page Six. “Khloé looks beautiful but it is within the right of the copyright owner to not want an image not intended to be published taken down.”

Of course, trying to have the image taken down only served to draw increased attention to it – a phenomenon commonly known as the Streisand Effect – and resulted in fans sharing it more widely, with many commenting how great Kardashian looks. “Khloe Kardashian’s unedited bikini pic is fire. Girl has her flat little tummy, her arms look toned, she’s snatched! It’s actually really nice to see what an unedited, unposed kardashian body looks like,” wrote one Twitter user, while another tweeted “She looks gorgeous & happy in this pic, wish we’d see more like this”.

Now, Kardashian herself has responded to the incident, sharing a long statement about how years of cruel comments in the press and online have left her self-esteem shattered and defending her right to edit images. Describing herself as someone “who has struggled with body image her whole life”, she says the pressure put on her to meet beauty standards and the constant ridicule and judgement of her appearance has been “too much to bear”. 

“‘Khloé is the fat sister.’ ‘Khloé is the ugly sister.’ ‘Her dad must not be her real dad because she looks so different.’ ‘The only way she could have lost that weight must have been from surgery.’ Should I go on?” she writes. Kardashian goes on to say that she is aware of the privileges she has and isn’t asking for sympathy but merely to be “acknowledged for being human” and while she isn’t perfect she has tried to live her life as honestly as possible. “It’s almost unbearable trying to live up to the impossible standards that the public have set for me,” she says.

She continues: “For over a decade now in photos, every single flaw and imperfection has been micro-analyzed and made fun of to the smallest never quite get used to being judged and pulled apart and told how unattractive one is, but I will say, if you hear anything enough then you start to believe it.” Kardashian goes on to talk about how when she tried to use the criticism as motivation to work out, she received more criticism for claims she had undergone surgery, and says she will continue to edit her images, use filters, and good lighting “unapologetically”. “My body, my image and how I choose to look and what I want to share is my choice. It’s not for anyone to decide or judge what is acceptable or not anymore.” 

She finishes by saying that she sees and understands everyone out there who feels pressure to look perfect and that everyone is unique and perfect in their own way. “I have realised that we cannot continue to live life trying to fit into the perfect mold of what others have set for us. Just do you and make sure your heart is happy,” she ends. This is where things get a little bit complicated, however. While undoubtedly, as the statement makes incredibly clear, Kardashian is a victim of impossible beauty ideals she also actively works to uphold and perpetuate them through not just photoshopped and filtered images that are passed off as natural but also through the promotion of products like diet supplements and “detox teas” from companies like Flat Tummy Co. 

With an audience of over 136 million followers on Instagram alone, Kardashian wields huge influence and by posting consistently edited images she passes the pressure to look ‘perfect’ on to her fans whose own self-esteem will suffer when they can’t live up to the standards. It’s easy to say “everyone is unique and perfect in their own way”, it’s harder to live authentically by that message, especially in the unforgiving public eye. The system is rigged against us all, but Kardashian has the influence and the platform to take the pain she has suffered and channel it into changing the system rather than upholding it. Embracing the unedited image, instead of trying to suppress it, is the first step.