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Kim Kardashian Claims She'll "Never Be One Of Those Skinny Girls"

Illustration for article titled Kim Kardashian Claims Shell Never Be One Of Those Skinny Girls

With its June 2010 issue, feating Kim Kardashian, Shape, continues to be one of those pseudo-fitness magazines that claims to be all about "women's health" but is, in actuality, all about weight loss. This month's cover is especially frustrating:


Kardashian is posed in the standard generic-Shape bikini, with the quote, "I'll never be one of those skinny girls!" flashed under her name, as if we're supposed to find this admission believable and heroic as it sits next to an airbrushed picture of, uh, a "skinny girl" who is currently a spokeswoman for the Kardashian QuickTrim diet pill system, a program she claims, in commercials for the brand, will help you "create the body you deserve." And by "create the body you deserve," of course, she means "will help you lose weight and look super hot in a bikini."

And if that's not bad enough, Gwen at Sociological Images points out that Shape also offers readers a look at Kardashian's workout routine, so they, too, can "embrace their bodies," by, you know, losing weight and fitting the Shape ideal: "It's another example of articles that pretend to be presenting an alternative to beauty standards/Hollywood ideals (be confident! Even stars have cellulite! So what?!?) but ultimately reinforce them, both by presenting images in which the featured women's bodies differ little from those seen in the rest of the magazine and by making sure you know how to diet and exercise in order to get your body to conform."


In putting Kardashian, a spokesperson for a diet pill/quick cleanse program on the cover, Shape is celebrating that kind of diet mentality: whatever it takes to look good in that bikini, ladies, regardless of the potential health hazards and overall fucked up and potentially dangerous means of attaining weight loss via supplements and cleanses. In celebrating and promoting Kardashian's statement that she'll "never be one of those skinny girls," even though she very clearly already is, the magazine is essentially telling its audience that Kardashian doesn't represent thinness, which is ridiculous. You can't be the spokesmodel for embracing one's curves on the cover of a "health" magazine and a representative of losing those very curves in a national diet pill campaign. But then again, it's Shape, singular. Expecting that magazine to embrace or promote anything but the standard Hollywood ideal is probably asking too much.

"I'll Never Be One Of Those Skinny Girls! [Sociological Images]
Kim Kardashian Shape Cover Picture June 2010 [AmyGrindhouse]

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I'm going to quibble here, because I think what's going on here in terms of classification is sort of a poison pill.

OK, so Kim Kardashian is not fat at all. Clearly. But she's also not skinny. Calling her skinny is innacurate (and also sort of alienating and confusing to women who look like her and know damn well they're not percieved as skinny in real life).

There exists a fairly substantial middle ground between "skinny" and "fat" (though obviously perceptions thereof are affected by societal standards, not all societies set the boundaries in the same places, etc.). But what seems to be happening more and more in pop culture is this thing where women are either skinny or fat, like this is some sort of natural either/or scenario. But it isn't. Body size is a sliding scale with infinite points of variation on it, not an A vs B scenario. And I really don't think it's helpful for people who're concerned about the way women are depicted in the media and weight issues are covered to buy into that dichotomy, because the way it usually plays out is, OK, so if we have only these two options, any woman who isn't really fucking skinny can be labelled as fat. And any issues any woman has with her weight, even if say she has a severe eating disorder, can be sort of brushed aside as no big deal because hey, she's not actually fat, so she must be skinny.

This false dichotomy helps no one, and we really need to stop buying into it. Women come in many shapes and sizes, not just "skinny" and "fat".