Why, as a father to two young girls, I’m worried about the messages my daughters will take from celebrities like Kim Kardashian
As a father to two young girls, the reaction to Kim Kardashian's recent nude Instagram post has been interesting and thought-provoking. Everyone seems to have an opinion and, in the midst of that, I’ve been trying to figure out what mine is.
I don’t think it’s my place to say what women should or shouldn’t be doing with celebrating their bodies. But I do have worries about the messages my daughters will take from celebrities like Kim Kardashian.
Interestingly, two of the women I respect the most on social media fell on opposite sides of the debate. Kate Portman tweeted:
I’m ALL for women doing as they please but this posting ‘naked selfies of yourself online, business’? I don’t get it. I don’t get it at all.
She later added:
I love my naked body but I don’t want the world to see it. Worries me that young girls will see this as the ‘norm’ & can’t help but feel it’s cheapening to women.
Alice Judge-Talbot didn’t see it quite this way, though. Referencing her own recent swimsuit photoshoot, she said in an Instagram post:
I’ve been watching the furore around @kimkardashian this week with interest and thinking about the time last year I got half-naked for @speedo, probably not the first thing you’d imagine a 30 year old mum of two to do.
But it was amazing- one of the most liberating experiences of my life. I’m proud of my body and the amazing things it’s achieved! I have a respect and love for it that I didn’t have when was growing up… I work hard to make it feel good. And if you want to whip your clothes off to celebrate that, I say go for it!
When two of the female voices you most respect fall on different sides, it makes it all the harder to form your own opinion.
That said, I understand what both Kate and Alice are saying.
Just over a year ago, my wife, Rachel, did a boudoir photo shoot. She hasn’t always had huge amounts of body confidence (for reasons that, as a male, I’ll probably never fully understand), but I loved seeing the effect it had on her.
(As well as the photos, of course!)
It’s not like the photo shoot resolved all of her body confidence issues once and for all, but I definitely sensed in her a feeling of empowerment and renewed respect and love for her body.
And so I am totally behind women doing whatever they can and want to find ways that celebrate their bodies and help them appreciate themselves better.
At the same time, as a father to girls, I want to do everything I can to help give them a secure sense of identity that is founded on more than just their bodies.
I want my girls to be confident about their bodies and not at all ashamed of them. But I want them to measure their contribution to the world based on their unique abilities, their brilliant minds, their amazing creativity, and their resilience and hard work.
I don’t want them to connect their worth to what others think about how they look.
Sadly, we live in a society where all too often women are judged and valued based on how beautiful or sexy they are.
I worry that the example of people like Kim Kardashian increases the perception—among both men and women—that a women’s primary value is found through her looks and her body rather than her abilities.
It could be because I don’t know Kim Kardashian, but it feels like Rachel’s celebration of her body through a boudoir photo shoot, and Alice’s through her swimsuit shoot, are not quite the same thing as what Kim projects through many of her photos on social media.
While a selection of Rachel’s photos did get shared publicly, most of them were only ever seen by the two of us. And though the photos that were posted to Facebook friends received lots of positive comments, Rachel didn’t do the photo shoot for the affirmation of others.
She did it for herself.
The concern I have for my girls, though, is that celebrities like Kim Kardashian will help to foster ideas in their minds that limit their sense of worth to how good others think they look.
If Rachel and I don’t help our girls learn to tread wisely through the world of celebrity and social media, they could easily end up measuring their worth based on how many Likes their most recent photo on Instagram got.
So, while I don’t feel it’s my job to say that Kim Kardashian should or shouldn’t post sexy photos of herself, I do feel she is making my job as a father to girls more challenging.
If she gets a sense of empowerment and body confidence through the sharing of her photos, then it’s not for me to try and stop that. Or to say whether it’s right or wrong. She lives in a free country and no one is forcing people to follow her social media accounts.
But I do hope, in light of her influence, she is aware of the impression she can leave on girls who perhaps haven’t yet fully figured out who they are and that their value needs to be grounded on far more than their looks.
Even though my girls are still both very young at the moment, I am trying to find the right way forward as a father.
I am determined to encourage body confidence in my girls—and the freedom to express that. But even more than that I want to help ensure their sense of identity and worth is based on who they are holistically as a person, and not just how they look.
Our society doesn’t make this easy, and celebrity culture doesn’t help, but our world will be a better, stronger place the more we encourage women to be all that they can be.