Why Kim K’s latest body makeup is deeply problematic?​

Shruti Sonal

Shruti is a freelance journalist and poet, who writes about the intersection between gender, politics and art.

It’s 2019 but the cosmetics and beauty industry still continues to use the female body and its imperfections in their quest to generate profit. This time, it’s none other than Kim Kardashian and her line of KKW Beauty Products, which has launched three new items. Set for release by the end of this month, Kim K has launched a new range of body makeup, including liquid body shimmer and a loose shimmer powder. In a tweet announcing the launch, she wrote “I use this when I want to enhance my skin tone or cover my psoriasis. I bruise easily and have veins and this has been my secret for over a decade.” She went on to post a video that demonstrated how the products help her cover her psoriasis scars.

Kim also demonstrated how the body makeup covers her psoriasis scars. The products, she claimed,  “will enhance your skin by blurring out imperfections with a smooth satin finish.”

Yes, really. As if our bodies were furniture, needing the perfect finish in order to be displayed. 

Kim K and her beauty line was soon criticised for being insecure about her own body, and also projecting those insecurities on her millions of followers. At a time when models are being criticised for airbrushing their photos, and brands like Nike are embracing body positive mannequins, Kim K’s product goes back to commercializing self-doubt.

A foundation that covers your scars and marks over your body? That helps to ‘hide’ your veins and psoriasis? That evens out your skin tone? 

It’s appalling that it’s 2019 and such products and language are still being used by icons who influence a million others. It’s also insulting to those with skin diseases and scars, who’ve taken years to be comfortable in their own skin. It gives out a message to those bullied for their skin that the onus is on them to hide their flaws, instead of on the society to be okay with it.

It tells those who struggle with self-esteem issues and adverse mental health as a result, that the only way out is to apply filters, both on social media and in real life. It tells women that their body must have a ‘smooth satin finish’, just like their vaginas must smell like flowers and their facial complexion must resemble that of pasteurised milk. It sets unfair and skewed benchmarks for ‘beauty’ by relying on ‘secrets’ that we all could do without. 

Having been born and brought up in India, it is easy to see that this is not the first, and unfortunately not the last time either, that women have been told that their imperfections have to go, be blurred out, and hidden from public view. We’ve had products like Fair and Lovely’s “Anti Marks” cream. Or the “No Scars” facial cream. The advertisements for these products often linked scars to a low self-esteem and lack of confidence. And the way to overcome these? Simple: just hide your scars.

Generations of women have been forced to grow up to believe that hiding their scars and whitening their skin held the key to success (defined 90% of the times by good marriage proposals and sometimes by a decent job offer). Burn victims, acid attack victims, or those who suffer an accident have been ostracised by the society for not being presentable enough. Such products, and the use of such language, only reinforces the doubts in their heads. 

The female body is not a commodity for corporations to profit from, and it’s high time that influencers like Kim K realize that.