Kim Kardashian’s narcissism is bad, but snarking about cellulite is far worse

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It is tiresome to pretend Kardashian West is a great feminist triumph. But to criticise her for a seemingly imperfect backside is absurd

Kim Kardashian Wests backside seemed to be in the news last week and opinion was split over whether this was a feminist triumph or not. Can we have a definitive ruling, please?

Marcus, by email

Your question could not be better timed, Marcus. As it happens, I have spent the past weekend at the Annual Feminist Symposium, where we take stock of the years developments and have a vote over which things are feminist and which are not. Some of the issues which we debated this year include Kellyanne Conway (not feminist), Topshops new high-waisted jeans (feminist) and that Pepsi commercial (pretty much the literal opposite of feminism). A spirited debate ensued about whether or not we needed to take a vote on Theresa May again, with this columns counterparts from the Telegraph and Mail insisting May clearly represents the absolute best of women why else would Tory men refer to her as mummy? However this revelation prompted the rest of the room to spend the next few hours vomiting profusely, so the vote had to be postponed.

Yes, Kim Kardashian Wests arse was in the news last week. Oh, stop that crying, CP Scott, and accusing me of spitting on your grave there is a point here. Right, so as I said, the worlds most famous arse was much discussed last week because it was seen in a way it had never been seen before, which is saying something given that it has been examined more closely than the Middle East peace crisis, and caused about as much consternation.

But last week, photos appeared of Kardashian on a beach and, hoo, boy. Personally, this column was most offended by the Christian Dior bikini she was wearing; so naff and logo heavy, Danniella Westbook would have taken her aside with a quiet, Babe, no. But that was not what caused the rest of the world to have a collective conniption fit no, it was the fact that Kardashians backside had some cellulite and was not quite as Barbie-like as previous photos had suggested. It turns out Kardashian is human?

Now, that is one theory about her that had been heretofore unconsidered. Reactions to these pictures exemplify the contradictory reactions the Kardashians have prompted all along. So fake!, Fake ass and the even more evocative Fake ass shit are just some of the comments people are leaving on Kardashians Instagram, along with much speculation about whether or not Kardashian has had plastic surgery, which seems a tad ironic, given these are the least plastic-looking photos about her to ever appear. Accompanying this is the horror that Kardashian must can you believe it? have been airbrushing her earlier selfies, suggesting a shocking number of people are unaware that Kardashian selfie is Latin for the definition of airbrushing. As the late and much-missed Alan Rickman would say, benefits of a classical education.

Similarly, one male tabloid columnist dramatically announced last week that he is done with Kim Kardashian, to which the correct answer is Oh dear, how will she soldier on? Shell be crying into her $80m tonight. What sparked this dramatic break-up, you cry? According to the columnist, it was Kardashians recent interview with Ellen DeGeneres and the selling of arse-related merchandise on Kardashians website, which he damned as hugely profitable and hugely cynical. He also lamented how Kardashian, who he once liked, had become, since her marriage to bad boy rapper Kanye West, a poor example to the worlds girls. This column is happy to provide, again, the correct response to all of this, which is: Im sorry, did you miss the part where the Kardashians only became famous in the first place because of their relationship with OJ Simpson, and someone leaked Kims sex tape? Or was all that fine, but an interview on a chatshow that isnt yours is a bridge too far?

Anyway, Marcus, you asked me for a definitive ruling here and you shall get one. At the risk of upsetting the Feminist Symposium I have to say that not everything is feminist or otherwise, and I would put Kardashians arse in that category. Like a planet, it just is. It is slightly tiresome when people try to pretend the Kardashians themselves are great feminist icons. But to criticise Kardashian for walking around with her butt out, or faking her photos, or posing shamelessly for the paparazzi, or exploiting herself for cash is clearly absurd. This is all Kardashian has ever done, and anyone over the age of 16 who is surprised by any of this now really needs to have a hard look at themselves.

I am no Kardashian fan I think theyre all exploitative narcissists but, amazingly, its Kim who comes out the best from this whole hoo-ha. She is just doing what she has always done, and, frankly, bravo to her for appearing to not give a fig about anyones thoughts about her cellulite. Have people forgotten how recently looking flat-out anorexic was the most desirable look for a woman? In no way is Kardashian a good example, and nor has she ever been, but I could very easily argue that people who snark about cellulite are worse. So no, Marcus, Kardashians bum is not a feminist triumph. But next to some other people, it is a paragon of mature self-awareness.

Post your questions to Hadley Freeman, Ask Hadley, The Guardian, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Email ask.hadley@theguardian.com.

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