When Kim Kardashian posted that infamous post-baby selfie last year, social media went crazy. It was everywhere within minutes of her posting it. She looked incredible, and given the amount of stick the press gave her for gaining weight when she was pregnant, who could blame her for wanting to stick the metaphorical middle finger up to them and show the world just how good she looked. Nothing wrong with that, surely? Well, according to many on Twitter, there was - lots wrong with it actually. Apparently Kim unapologetically loving the way she looks and showing it off with a selfie is hugely offensive to many people out there.
There was one particular reaction to the picture that really stuck with me. Around the same time that Kim posted her selfie, Emma Watson, of Harry Potter fame, posted a picture of herself in her graduation cap, causing one gentleman to tweet 'Kim Kardashian posts selfies showing off her body. Emma Watson posts selfies showing off her brain. #Respect.' So, because Kim posts pictures of her body, she doesn't deserve respect? That's absolute rubbish, and here's why.
Forget for a minute that the people in the example above are in the public-eye, and leave whatever opinions you have on their celebrity status to one side. The fact is, they are both two young women living in a patriarchal society that is still obsessed with how women look and how they act. This man believed that only Emma was worthy of our respect because with her selfie she'd proven herself intelligent and beautiful. Society has decided that's ok. Kim, however, is dismissed as undeserving of our respect, and vain and narcissistic for loving her own body and wanting to show it off. Sadly, this just reflects the societal norm that women loving how they look is seen as really vulgar. We've built entire industries that encourage women to hate how they look, from diet pills and expensive cellulite creams, to the scores of weekly magazines body-shaming women in the public-eye. There's a lot of economic interest in keeping women's self-esteem low, but women like Kim are fighting back, and despite the mocking, the selfie is playing a huge part in that.
Like the majority of women out there, I have my fair share of insecurities. A brief dalliance with the hugely critical modelling industry in my teens, years of reading women's magazines and listening to men's (usually uninvited) comments on how I look have taken their toll. But in the past year or so, I've embraced the selfie. I post the occasional one on social media, but mostly they are just for me. I no longer fear the camera, or more specifically its outcome - the selfie allows me to present my physical self to the world in a way that I'm comfortable with. If I think I look good, I can take a picture that reflects how I look and feel.
I'm ashamed to admit that when the trend first started, I too brushed it off as an over-indulgent social media phase that would probably just die out. Thankfully it hasn't - and the selfie is fast becoming one of the most incredible celebrations of women the internet has ever seen. Women are celebrating themselves, their bodies, their fashion choices. They are unapologetic for noticing just how great they look. It's incredible to see, and it's sending an important message to women, young and old, everywhere - confidence in how you look is not a weakness, nor a sign of vanity or narcissism. It's a wonderful, positive thing.
Say what you like about Kim Kardashian, but she's proving that it's ok to not fit the mould of how society think a woman should look or act. She's short, she's curvy, she's made millions from a leaked sex tape (the ultimate betrayal of trust - but that's another blog in itself) - but she loves how she looks, who she is and where she's from, and for that I will always respect her.
So keep on posting those selfies, because ladies, you look great.