This week saw a huge surge in news, from landing a probe on a moving comet to Kim Kardashian-West bearing her most famous asset on the cover of Paper magazine. While the bum made more news waves than the science, it isn’t surprising the comments coming in are both negative and positive.
But the most important comment one can make about this photograph is that it’s been done before. Yes, let’s collect our shock together and continue on. Jean-Paul Goude is famous for his photography, he dated model Grace Jones back in the 1970s and even created a coffee table book of images of her. But that’s the thing, everything he’s ever been done relies on photo manipulation and editing. It’s why Kardashin has the smallest waist anyone can imagine and her bum is as big as the comet we landed on this week.
Goude has admitted to manipulating his images in order to please his ideal of the perfect woman of color. So it’s no surprise the photos of Kardashian have some serious editing to them. Even the champagne photo of her balancing the glass has been done before and Goude admits to him that is the ideal woman of color. The Grio published a story earlier this week about Kardashian being the literal butt of an old racial joke, so what does this say about our society?
Social media was quick to judge the mother and wife about keeping her clothes on, women said they wanted her body albeit being an almost impossible standard to reach. So it poses the biggest question who is wrong here? Is it Kardashian who has gotten naked before or Goude who manipulated the images beyond recognition? When asked, it would have to be Goude who creates what he thinks is beautiful. Thus reality of the actual human woman beyond becomes skewed.
How society views women and how women view themselves comes into questioning with this latest photoshop fiasco. Especially since Goude prides himself to be someone that has created photo manipulations LONG before the computer was available. The Grio mentions in their article as well “At best, these pictures are recycled art, and at worst, they are lazy sensationalism — but innovative they are not.” Which is true, Kardashian was so proud of her work and the internet fed right into it. No one bothered to look up the photographer, when famed photographer Annie Lebovitz featured Miley Cyrus in just a sheet the internet dug up every photo she ever took. Everyone became so upset that all her work was called into question, so what happened here? No one bothered to look up Goude’s work or the photographer himself.
Goude has iconic work of his ex Jones, but the problem here are the images in question. The work is a sexualization of women of color, it is a view of women from a man’s lens who openly admits that his work sexualizing to women of color. Again The Grio cites the original work where Kardashian is balancing a glass on her rear end was called Jungle Fever. It is a sexualization of women of color and Kardashian fell victim to this, because for some odd reason no one did research or bothered to look into it.
The New York Times ‘The Cut’ section which deals with art, music and photography goes into greater detail about Goude’s techniques. Which questions his use of photoshop, though the photographer has used other techniques to get his end results. He has used everything from multiple images glued together, to posing models to get their best side. But it is clear and evident Kardashian has been photoshopped, everything from her skin to the shape of her figure comes into question. The reality star is no stranger to edits, which includes her personal photos on instagram. So why are these any different? Again the message this photo sends is one that is all negative down to the core.
Granted, you can argue it’s all a matter of opinion but if you go through the comments on social media women are pining for this body and men are sexualizing it to no end. Did Goude reach his ultimate goal? Did society sink so low it becomes about demoralizing as opposed to fighting the racism and sexism created? Is it just art? There are a lot of factors that come into play here and it begs the question, when did it become okay?
We live in a society that sexualizes women while bringing them down for being confident in their own skin. It’s a gross double standard, and men fall victim to it as well. Because there is no ideal man or woman, just what the media feeds and what we are told to believe. So when will this change? When will society say enough, and just love each other? It clearly isn’t with this image or Goude’s work.