Think about a time, maybe you were a lot younger than you are now, when you adored someone in the spotlight. Mine personally was Britney Spears. I loved her. I dressed like her. I (attempted) to do my hair like her. I sung her songs. That’s what we do with role models - we look up to them so much that we may start to imitate them in order to be like them.
The Kardashian sisters are a group of such role models, and currently have a combined total of hundreds of millions of followers, many of whom are young, vulnerable, teenage girls - a stage of life when self esteem is low and the risks of developing eating disorders are high. You would think this would mean they acknowledge they have an obligation to be a positive role model for their young fans and to use their platforms responsibly.
Unfortunately, as we have seen in recent events, this could not be further from the truth. In a series of recent Instagram Stories, Kendall tells Kim: “I don’t think you’re eating. Like, you look so skinny,” to which Kim reacts with an ecstatic “Oh my God, thank you!” She was then told she looked “anorexic” by Khloe Kardashian, which only seemed to thrill the reality star even more.
The fact that Kim is applauding the comments by her sister branding her as “anorexic” is, quite honestly, sickening, especially as a person who has battled the illness in the past. Anorexia is not a look or an image to be coveted or glorified. It is a heartbreaking, soul destroying disease, with the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Using this term as a compliment is dangerous, triggering and may encourage admiring followers to achieve this look through extremely harmful means.
Not only this, but the comments surrounding Kim eating nothing but “oxygen and lettuce” are equally dangerous - extreme dieting is often a common indicator of an eating disorder. These hugely influential women are sending out the message we should be striving for thinness and only when we are thin do we finally look good. They are sending out the message that not eating is a positive thing. They are sending out the message that looking like you have an eating disorder such as anorexia is actually a compliment rather than something to be deeply concerned over.
However, there may be another side to the story. Rather than being quick to slam Kim K for her reaction to these comments, I think we need to look at them a little more deeply. Perhaps she is struggling with fear and anxiety around food, like so many of us. Perhaps she struggles with her weight and body image to a dangerous extent. Perhaps she is slipping, or is already well entrenched, into habits of disordered eating, as suggested by the promotion of that lollipop ad a couple of months ago (although it is debatable as to whether she actually uses these products). And perhaps what she needs, instead of being treated with hostility, anger and judgment (although completely understandable) is to be treated with concern over her own relationship with food, weight and her body.
What the Kardashian sisters need is education around what health really is, both for the sake of their fans and their own wellbeing, before it’s too late.