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How Can Unedited Pictures on Social Media Cause Controversy?

Recently an unedited bikini photo of Khloe Kardashian sparked controversy for all of the wrong reasons when it was posted on social media without her knowledge. Upon seeing all the buzz surrounding this image that has since been wiped from the internet I expected to see a much different photograph than what it was. The controversial photo showed Khloe in what would have been a celebrated picture/ body had it not been a celebrity with millions of followers. I shrugged this off as another example of an overly critical internet fan base. However, the propensity of an unedited photograph to somehow be controversial troubled me. How could the way someone looks in real life cause an uproar when shared on line? Is it just simply expected that all celebrities instagram photos are highly edited and photoshopped? 

Over the past decade social media has become completely transformed into a highlight reel often giving followers a false glimpse into their reality. The implications on body image these apps can cause due to unattainable standards are apparent sparking conversations such as the instagram vs. reality trend encouraging people to share unedited pictures of themselves. The Kardashian family has played a role in forming these standards by posting heavily edited photos and not being fully transparent about cosmetic procedures they have had. While the entire weight of this issue cannot be solely attributed to them alone, their impact and role in its creation is clear. 

I believe the recent controversy with Khloe presented a situation that could have gone one of two ways and she chose poorly. It goes without saying that I empathize strongly with her situation having endured years of public criticism in regards to her body at a large scale. The pressure for her to look a certain way is immense. However, I can’t help but feel she(and her family) have played an instrumental role in the toxicity of editing beyond recognition on social media. To me it seems a conflict of interest for Khloe to promote working out and body positivity to your impressionable followers while simultaneously conveying an unauthentic image of herself. 

The criticisms of the picture were extremely harsh and undeserved, and Khloe’s outrage over the image came from her thinking it was unflattering. I think she should have kept the picture up and used it to make a statement supporting the photo which would have had a more positive impact and created a new dialogue. Keeping the photo could have advocated for unphotoshopped images and embracing your natural body. With millions following the Kardashians this controversy could have been a turning point to address the root of the issue in which an unphotoshopped image can be controversial and begin to shift the narrative. Social media will continue to be a toxic place in which heavily edited images are presented to followers as natural unless major influential people such as the Kardashians begin to curate more authentic content and promote body positivity. 

Senior Communication & Media Studies Major with a double minor in Marketing and Anthropology/Sociology.
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