“I have never felt pain like that in my life.”

This is how Kim Kardashian West described her outfit for the 2019 Met Gala last week in a Wall Street Journal interview. And this is coming from a woman who has birthed two children after incredibly difficult pregnancies.

Kim has at last opened up about her ordeal. Mainly how her corset made it impossible for her to pee or even sit down during the dinner, and how she required breathing lessons beforehand. The corset was so tight, it took three men to get her into it.

Kim’s dress was meant to look like she just got out of the ocean, but what drew people’s attention the most was what that custom-made corset created ­– a practically nonexistent waist.

As I read about Kim’s ‘struggle’, I saw mixed reactions online. While there was quite a bit of backlash on social media, some were inspired enough to try the corset themselves. Many couldn’t stop gushing about how good Kim looked, and called her an icon for truly suffering in the name of fashion.

Me? I just felt angry.

My irritation felt like a result of years of seeing the Kardashians present themselves as some sort of messiahs for women being free to do what they want with their bodies. I would be inspired, if only this wasn’t a mirage maintained by overt hypocrisy.

On the one hand, the Kardashians (especially Kim) make it seem like they are stepping out of the box by talking about body positivity and women being comfortable in their own skin. In reality, their body positivity is limited to one particular body type (hint: their own) and how to scam their followers into buying products to look like them.

The family has a documented history of promoting detox teas, appetite suppressing lollipops and other weight loss inducing products. It is painful to watch them tell their hordes of followers to buy into dietary fads that not only promote a negative body image but are also literally bad for their physical health.

They actively promote and profit off toxic ideas of what women’s bodies should look like.

Actress Jameela Jamil is perhaps the most vocal when it comes to criticizing the Kardashians for the damage they inevitably do to young girls who look up to them, and rightly so. How can we be comfortable in our own skin when the Kardashians keep telling us we should look like them?

Nobody out there can possibly believe suppressing the appetite to be healthy for one’s body. Meanwhile, detox teas have come under fire for being largely laxatives, while the FDA approval of such products is also under question.

Thus, the Kardashians ­­– who have the privilege to be able to spend a lot of time and money to look the way they do – promoting fads can only harm their hordes of vulnerable followers who aspire to be just like them. People viewing these ads on Instagram may end up believing the lie that these products really make the Kardashians look like this.

And ultimately, believing you need to get into these products and lose weight can lead to depression and anxiety and even worsen body dysmorphia in those who suffer from it.

As someone who has been body-shamed herself, one would expect Kim to do better for those who struggle with the same.

Yet all we see is the Kardashians telling us we are desirable when we lose weight. We see Kim get excited when Kendall Jenner tells her it looks as if she’s not eating. We see Kim take it as a compliment when Khloe tells her she looks anorexic. How in the world can this be described as healthy behavior?

I struggle with my body type and weight too and let me tell you, it doesn’t feel great to see some of the most influential women in the world uphold the idea that skinny is desirable and fat is not.

Women everywhere are still struggling to get accepted or feel beautiful if they fall out of a distinct body type we are told is the most attractive.

Fat shaming is very much our reality.

The idea of an hourglass figure and a tiny waist has not entirely been left behind by the turn of the century, and Kim is actively trying to bring it back (and then expects sympathy for the pain that she’s encouraging millions of people to follow her into).

Kim is famous enough to make the news no matter what she wears, and yet she chose to use the world’s most prominent fashion event to promote waist training and bring back a glaring reminder from our past of just how much women suffered to look attractive for men.

I feel sorry for the millions of young women who will now engage in acts like waist training.

I feel sorry for those who will perhaps finally buy those lollipops so they too can look like Kim did at the Met Gala.

I feel sorry for everyone who champions the Kardashians despite them only championing themselves.

But I do not feel sorry for Kim for choosing to put us all (and herself) through hell in the name of ‘fashion’.

  • Iqra Khan

    Iqra Khan is a journalist, an editor, and a women’s rights activist based in Karachi, Pakistan. Iqra’s love affair with politics and international affairs compelled her to graduate with a BSc in Political Science. She is also a pop culture enthusiast with a particular affinity for women in film and literature.