Girl power or publicity stunt?

For the umpteenth time, US reality TV star Kim Kardashian has decided against keeping her clothes on.

On Monday, she posted on Instagram a nude selfie that was reportedly taken around March last year, about the same time she became pregnant with her second child, Saint West.

In it, she bares it all. Well, nearly. She did use two black strips to cover her naughty bits.

It was accompanied by a cheeky caption: "When you're like I have nothing to wear LOL".

The photo, which has raked in 1.4 million likes, did not leave a lot to the imagination, but is not ground-breaking by Kardashian's standards.

Yet, somehow, her post has ignited a social media storm, with a string of celebrities chastising her for her actions. (See report on facing page.)

In response to the backlash, the 35-year-old mother of two, who has 62.9 million followers on Instagram, defended herself in a lengthy note posted on her website yesterday.

Titled #StraightUp Happy International Women's Day, referring to the event that took place on Tuesday, she wrote: "In all seriousness, I never understand why people get so bothered by what other people choose to do with their lives.

"I don't do drugs, I hardly drink, I've never committed a crime - and yet I'm a bad role model for being proud of my body?

"I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin.

"I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me.

"And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world."

Kardashian then asked that critics allow her to be herself, writing: "It's 2016. The body-shaming and slut-shaming - it's like, enough is enough.

"I will not live my life dictated by the issues you have with my sexuality. You be you and let me be me."

Undaunted, she went on to post yet another nude photo of herself, this time with her hands protecting her modesty and with the caption "#liberated".

As netizens continue to take sides over this debacle, it raises the question of whether nude selfies are the right way to promote female empowerment.

Ms Jolene Tan, programmes and communications senior manager at the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), told The New Paper: "We hope for a world in which society does not invest so much energy into judging or worrying about what individual women wear or don't wear, which is a matter for them to decide for themselves."

LOCAL CELEBS

Local celebrities were divided over Kardashian's latest antics.

Actress Oon Shu An, 30, felt that how Kardashian uses and portrays her body is her prerogative.

She said: "At the end of the day, it's her body. Empowerment is a very personal thing and if that's what empowerment means to her, then that's her call.

"I think the naked body is beautiful but the question is - naked in what context? Some use nudity to glorify, others to objectify."

Singer Maia Lee, 33, felt that Kardashian's intention in posting the nude selfie is important.

The mother of three said: "If her aim was to draw attention towards her body and portray herself as a sex bomb, then I'm not for that.

"But if it's about feeling positive about your body, even after pregnancy, then that's cool with me.

"I'm on her side because she embraces her body and how she looks. Then again, it's easier when you're that hot."

But radio personality and host Jamie Yeo, 38, believes that Kardashian's photo is not all she makes it out to be.

Yeo, who has a five-year-old daughter, said: "She should just call her photo what it is - a publicity stunt.

"To call this female empowerment is wrong because she's been said to have had work done to her body, so it means she doesn't accept her body for what it is.

"Flaunt her body all she wants because I respect that's her way of making a living as a celebrity, but don't pass it off as a call for empowerment because it's not her original intention in the first place."

Yeo added: "I don't want to judge. I would never do a photo like that.

"But then again, someone would not have posed in a bikini like I have in the past. People have different standards. "

ashikinr@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on March 10, 2016.
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