By: Kiki Kirk
The other day I was taking the Metra to work, as I do every day. But this particular day I left my head phones at home. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if I didn’t have to listen to people talk, but without head phones, I do. And I realize this makes me sound like a pretentious asshole, but I really hate listening to other people’s conversations. I even try to mask that hate by listening to music so I don’t have to show my visible distaste. And I wouldn’t even mind so much if people didn’t say the worst things ever all the time. But they do, so what choice do I have?
The train was approaching the downtown station and I got up from my seat to stand by the doors so I would be one of the first people out. There were four women sitting closest to the doors, and as soon as I approached them, their hissing words began sweeping over me.
“You know, there are like five different diet supplements that are trying to get Kim Kardashian to endorse them after she has her baby.”
“Well, at the rate she’s going, she’s going to need all five at once!”
“Oh, why do you say that? Is she getting big?”
“Oh my god. Is she getting big? She’s HUGE.”
“You could seriously fit two Kate Middleton’s inside of her at this point.”
“And her boobs are the size of my head, but not in a good way.”
“She’s having Kanye’s baby, right?”
“Shit. I feel so sorry for that child.”
I don’t know if I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, or if I just didn’t want to believe it.
Let me begin by saying that I am not a huge fan of the Kardashian Dynasty and I also don’t think the shit they do is important or impacting the world in largely positive ways. The problem with what they were saying really has almost nothing to do with the Kardashians or celebrities at all.
This conversation is problematic for a number of reasons. One reason is that they are obviously holding celebrities’ bodies to a higher standard than other bodies. They probably wouldn’t be caught dead describing each other’s bodies like that because they are “real women” and they don’t count. But because Kim Kardashian is so famous, she can’t experience changes in her body during pregnancy, or ever, like every woman does. That is a contradiction that I don’t understand.
Another reason this is fucked up beyond reason is because they think that Kim Kardashian is not allowed to own her own body. They are making Kim Kardashian’s body a very blatant point of ridicule and they don’t think they are doing anything wrong; because she’s a talentless, famous-because-of-a-sex tape celebrity. They spoke of her like she wasn’t even a person. Oh and let’s not forget how they referred to the child growing inside of her as “Kanye’s baby” for fucks sake.
When they ended with, “I feel so sorry for that child.” I wanted to look at each of them and say, “I feel sorry for your children.” Because I really, truly do.
I wanted to tell them that no matter how many times you tell your daughter she’s “beautiful no matter what,” when she hears you gossiping with your friends about how fat and ugly so-and-so is, she will look in a mirror and see fat and ugly. She will begin to hate herself because of the hate she heard spewing from your mouth.
I wanted to tell them that no matter how many times you tell your son that “looks aren’t important and it’s what is on the inside that counts,” when he hears you gossiping with your friends about how fat so-and-so looked in that dress last weekend, he will look at women and hate their imperfections. He will begin to judge a woman’s value based on her looks because of the hate he heard oozing from your mouth.
More than anything, I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed that people like those women on the Metra still exist. I’m ashamed that I didn’t say anything to stand up for myself and other people who don’t appreciate body policing. I’m ashamed that I still can’t help but let their words make me feel shitty about my own body. So when people ask me why we even need feminism, I will list this as one of the many, many, many reasons.
I am just now beginning to love my body and all of its imperfections. I’ve been told for as long as I can remember, by literally every form of media, that the dimples on my thighs and the stretch marks on my stomach are unacceptable and unlovable. I shouldn’t love them, and neither should anyone else. I should spend my days trying to hide, change, and fix them. But I’m done with that. I’m ready to finally love myself, despite being told that I shouldn’t.