Kim Kardashian West recently posted a picture with her daughter, North, that made heads roll. With almost three million likes, the comments — over fifty thousand of them — ranged from: “someone call social services” to “stop telling people how to live their lives.” The photo in question challenged my views as a mother and my own parenting styles. I’m always naked around my daughter. I mean, I don’t go out of my way to prance around nude, but I don’t hide from her. I don’t shield my body or hurry to throw clothes on just because I hear her little feet running down the hall. Hell, I’ve posted pictures similar to Kim if not worse… so what’s the REAL issue? Are people upset by the fact that she’s nude around her daughter? Maybe it’s because she had North take the picture? For all we know, North took the picture without her knowledge, which then begs the question, why post it online ?
Instagram first launched in 2010, a year after I graduated high school and the same year my daughter was born. When I grew up it was all about Myspace. We used it recreationally, we customised our profiles, and had fun with it. Social media in 2018, however, is used for branding, social messages, and status. It determines your “cool” factor and in many cases can promote or hinder your success. Kids of famous parents or influencers have their Instagram accounts made at birth and rack up a bigger following than most of us will ever reach. Our online identity has become just as important as our day to day. Crazy, right? So let’s break this down and see what’s really got everyone’s panties in a bunch.
INFLUENCE: Who are you influencing? I have 50k followers compared to Kim’s 107m. Most of my followers are women and range in age from 25-34. I use my platform to promote body positivity and self love with authenticity and a few laughs sprinkled throughout. I want my followers to relate to me so I’m very transparent. I share struggles, highs and lows, and personal/professional experiences. I don’t lead with my sexuality but I’m a grown woman and have no problem approaching topics that might be considered taboo. I understand the difference between fault and responsibility. I had my daughter at 19. And while you can agree or disagree with the age I came into motherhood, that’s how my life played out and I don’t regret it. If someone were to approach me and say, “I had a kid at 19 because of you,” please know this is and was not my fault. You cannot blame me because you became a teen parent. I don’t advocate for teen pregnancy. I’m simply sharing my truth. However, because I’m aware of my influence and the demographic of my followers, I understand the responsibility that comes with sharing on a mass scale. I’m still responsible for the message that I’m putting out surrounding teen pregnancy which bring us to….
BRANDING: How are you influencing? I’m a mother, model, artist and storyteller. Kim is a mother, model, reality star, and businesswoman. Why didn’t I receive the same level of backlash when I posted a picture with my daughter? For starters, it might have something to do with the fact that, well, Kim is FAMOUS. Maybe if she shared a lengthy caption like I do or gave us a backstory to the photo we would have found her post more relatable. But maybe she didn’t want to. Maybe, as a someone who lives in the spotlight, she doesn’t want to share intimate captions about how she parents with the world. She’s also a sex symbol, but as a woman that advocates for all women is it fair to label her as a “bad mum” because of how she brands herself? Social media has enhanced a deep seeded evil that we all take part in on some level: comparison. We compare working mums to stay at home mums, breastfeeding mums to formula mums and mums that embrace nudity to mums that don’t. Whether I’m a mother or childless, I’m allowed to feel sexy because I’m woman, just like Kim and just like you.
MESSAGE: I can’t pretend to know what Kim’s message is or purpose behind such a post but I can tell you mine. When my daughter sees me comfortable in my skin, it gives her permission to be comfortable in hers. She’s going to know self love because she can witness a living example. As a model, my job sometimes comes with less clothes than others. When the time is right, that will be one of many conversations I have with my daughter. It’s important that she knows my actions do not stem from a lack of self respect. Publicly, I hope to continue to challenge our way of thinking when it comes to nudity. Telling me to hide is equivalent to, “she must be asking for it”, which is a narrative we need to get rid of immediately. My nudity is not an invitation to my body, a cry for a attention, and does not deem me less qualified as a mother.
I say all this to say, Instagram is a highlight reel. It gives us a peek into people’s lives, but not the whole picture. We make judgements based on assumptions and continue to pit women against one another for what? Whether or not you are a fan of Kim Kardashian West is a separate conversation, but at the end of the day how she brands herself and what pictures she posts doesn’t indicate the kind of mother is she is.