Kylie Jenner posted this (absolutely gorgeous) photo to her Instagram account over the weekend, and her original caption said, “behind the scenes. (yes I gained weight there I said it so u don’t have too) :).” She apparently edited it, as it now says, “behind the scenes.”
While she only edited a few words, the words matter. Here’s why this Kylie Jenner caption means more than it seems:
1. Women’s bodies are unfortunately considered public property.
To a certain extent, celebrities have to accept the fact that they are public entities; they put themselves out there in a way that is much, much more intense than any one of us in a Facebook or Instagram photo. That makes it easy for the public to consume their image, but that doesn’t make it right for people to constantly comment on celebrities’ weight or general looks. Just as we treat one another with respect, we should extend that same thoughtfulness to celebrities. The reality is that Kylie felt the need to explain herself as a way to preempt the inevitable attacks on her body. That’s not fair.
2. Women feel the need to apologize for their size.
Everyone feels the pressure to be beautiful — from the girl on the cover of the magazine to the woman who buys it. People have been body-shamed through both direct and indirect means for years (we all saw the “ideal body” video BuzzFeed presented), so it’s no shock that Kylie felt the need to discuss her weight gain as though it were a bad thing.
3. Women conflate “weight gain” with looking bad.
For many people, a number on a scale doesn’t reveal healthfulness (i.e., muscle increases can lead to weight gain). We need to stop thinking of the default as X size; this way, we can appreciate the natural fluxuation of the body without seeing it as a bad thing.
4. We are raised to judge the body.
When we discuss Kylie Jenner’s weight gain, we’re making the choice to judge another woman by her weight. Instead, we should all reroute the conversation and discuss why we feel the need to make someone’s body the center of our conversations. Does it make us feel better about ourselves? How do we un-wire the ways patriarchy has left us thinking about the female body? Becoming more aware can help us both love other women and ourselves more. Instead of saying, “she looks fat,” or “she’s too skinny,” we should figure out what is prompting us to do so.