I’ve struggled with body image issues all my life. Growing up, I hated my face and body so much so that at the tender age of fourteen, I made a list of things I would change about myself as soon as I’d saved enough pennies. My nose was too big, my face too freckly. My hair was wavy, my waistline too thick and my hips were wide as hell without much of a butt to match. My boobs were an ok size but not the shape I wanted; my lips were bird-like and my chin looked like an ass. If someone had handed me a blank check and the name of a decent doctor, can you only imagine what I might look like today?
Why yes, yes you can, actually. I’d look like Kylie Jenner.
Let me start by admitting I am one of those people that generally harbors no hatred for the Kardashian/Jenner squad. Call me crazy but I really do think Kim and Khloe’s’ butts are God-given, and I’d for damn sure give my kingdom but for one hour to pillage their closets. Sure, they’re often pretty ridiculous - North is the only one I’m really and truly down with because that little girl keeps it real. At the end of the day though, I feel like they’re probably halfway decent people who sometimes do frivolous things like so many other people in possession of gobs of money and fame.
That being said, the youngest of this reality TV’s supreme reigning family infuriates me.
Miss Kylie Jenner has become quite the social media giant, boasting over 36 million followers on Instagram and 11 million on Twitter alone. Via these and other outlets, we occasionally see snippets of a young girl trying to spread some love in the word: shots from a recent visit to Children’s Hospital on the eve of her 18th birthday, for example, and the #IAmMoreThan anti-bullying campaign she started up on Instagram. Along with each of her sisters, she recently announced the launch of a newly revamped website: she touts the accompanying mobile app as a labor of love for her fans.
These warm and fuzzy posts, however, are the exception and not the rule. Her followers are more commonly flooded with a barrage of carefully selected selfies, many of them overtly sexualized or dripping in material excess. Every day a different wig, a fresh batch of lip filler; a shot of ample cleavage, a frame focused on her derriere (the young kids call it “thirst trapping.” I call it “conceited as sh*t”). Several months ago, amidst the flurry of now-confirmed suspicions that Jenner’s lips had been cosmetically enhanced, she posted to Twitter that she “was happy w the way God created” her. Honey: it’s hard to buy the authenticity of this statement when your lips are fat full of injectable irony.
I’ll give the girl credit: she’s got an edgy sense of style and one mean makeup game, traits that have millions of teenaged girls (and boys, and grown-ass folk) wanting to cop her look. But go ahead – do a quick Google search. Take a peek at the before and after. Those aren’t minor touch ups and tricks of light. No amount of over-lining is going to get you that pout. This is the part I take issue with - not just the drastic beauty measures but the hyper sexed tone. Kylie’s transformation promotes a dangerous ideal of beauty that is spreading like an (overly contoured) cancer. It screams, “Hey kids! If you weren’t born with it, change it! Blow a couple grand on it! Flaunt it, record it, slap some sex on it; call it a tutorial or #OOTD and poof! You too can be a thirst trap!"
The part that really, really gets me is that Kylie is a gosh-damn teenager. This girl got work done before she was even of the age to legally consent to it without parental approval. How much is up for debate. And I get it - she’s probably facing formidable pressure to look a certain way – being in the public eye will do that to you, especially when you were birthed by Kris Jenner. Still, she has a very powerful platform and is unfortunately using it for the exhibitionist glorification of her heavily made-up and surgically-enhanced form. She isn't teaching young girls how to be comfortable with the skin they’re in - and how could she when she didn’t learn this trait herself? Instead she’s inspiring her faithful flock to plump it up, push it out and throw it on the gram. Again - Google her. Insert Mexican Abuela voice: "Mira esta sinverguenza!"
At age 30, I happen to like my wavy hair, and lip liner works wonders for my tiny mouth. A good bra keeps my boobs looking good and these freckles? They remind me of my mom. I’m still often insecure, who isn’t? I’m still thankful that no one ever gave me the option of taking my teenage insecurities under the knife. Kylie sure is lovely, but to be honest – she’s cheating. Girls: take what the good Lord gave you and love it for yourself. Aspire to be more than a thirst trap.