I readily admit it. When it comes to some of these people my patience is thin. We likely all have them. Famous people who just push our buttons. Take your pick: Trudeau, Trump, Bieber, Markle, Musk. The list is different for each of us. For me it's a name that shouldn't bother me the way it does but when I hear anything about a Kardashian, I flinch.
Their influence is unmistakable, if not a tad bewildering. Each member of the family has achieved incredible success. They know how to market themselves along with the products they are paid millions to endorse. Their image is extremely important and heavily controlled. So when something goes wrong, like an unfiltered picture of Khloe gets released, it puts a multi-million-dollar empire at risk. Unless her image remains perfect, her brand endorsements will fall away (she argued) as she attempted to have an unapproved picture taken down.
The photo was of her in a bikini, taken at a private family gathering, and posted mistakenly by an assistant before it was retouched. In response to comments generated by the picture she said she was heading to the gym which is her therapy because, "In truth, the pressure, constant ridicule and judgment my entire life to be perfect and to meet other's standards of how I should look has been too much to bear."
The expectation to look impeccable has created an unreasonable situation in which those in the image business aren't allowed to look anything but perfect, yet they constantly post images selling that very perfection which is responsible for their livelihood in the first place.
Explaining her reaction to the unretouched photo Kardashian said, "The photo that was posted this week was beautiful. But as someone who has struggled with body image her whole life, when someone takes a photo of you that isn't flattering in bad lighting or doesn't capture your body the way it is after working so hard to get it to this point — and then shares it to the world — you should have every right to ask for it not to be shared — no matter who you are." She freely admits to editing photos and using filters so she can present herself the way she wishes to be seen.
Photographers were forbidden to take pictures of Beyonce when she sang at Kobe Bryant's memorial service in 2020. Security was dispatched to ensure not a single unauthorized camera was on her because the singer demands there be no unflattering pictures of her floating around.
This relentless pursuit of something that simply cannot be attained is a plague on our sense of self. This is nothing new, but certainly the stakes are higher in an age where 4.7 billion pictures are taken every day.
It isn't just celebrities being photographed or videotaped all the time. It's all of us, whether we recognize it or not. One security company suggests the average American is caught on camera 75 times each day. Choose a popular destination and you can likely watch a live feed of people coming and going. I found myself watching EarthCam from Times Square one day. Why? I don’t know, but it was fascinating. Name a location and you can take a look.
I checked out the live video from a zoo we had visited so I could see updated pictures of a baby giraffe born the day before we got there. I was rather surprised to see that the camera wasn't positioned solely on the animals, but on all the people who passed by the enclosure. I thought back to my day there. How many people might have been on their screens watching the animals while seeing me and hundreds of others in the process? It dawned on me how little thought I give to the sheer number of cameras capturing us every single day, but make no mistake, they are. Consequently, we don't know who is seeing us at any given moment or what they are seeing. Wind-tousled hair? Sloppy clothes? Or…gasp…someone picking their nose?
It's simply not possible to be curators of our image all the time. Countless people have pictures of us we know nothing about. Consequently, we won't be 'picture perfect' all the time. Then again, we shouldn't even try to be.
Too much of what we see on the part of those in the image business is unreal and unnatural. Besides, think about the pictures in your own collection. I bet some of your favorites are those candid moments when something is going just a little bit unplanned. It's called life. We need to resist the pressure to photoshop it and instead just live it. That's my outlook.