Today when I saw this Metro article with photos of a battered Kim Kardashian and Kendall Jenner as part of a campaign to #StopViolenceAgainstWomen, I couldn’t just laugh and keep scrolling like I do with most other Kardashian selfies. The images were shocking, nauseating, and fake.
Of course, raising domestic violence awareness and starting a movement to stop violence against women is awesome. Major thumbs up, and usually I’d be totally complaint-free. But this campaign is different. The concept behind it was that it could happen to anyone, even a celebrity constantly serving up the duck face to your newsfeed. Artist aleXsandro Palombo Photoshopped (without their permission) pictures of familiar faces such as Kim, Kendall, Emma Watson, Angelina Jolie, Madonna, and Miley Cyrus to appear as if they had been horribly beaten. It was wrong that he didn’t ask their permission, but it’s also wrong that he is giving people Photoshopped beatings in the first place. Even if Kim had said ‘Hey, yeah, it’s totally cool to give me a fat lip. You know I’m all about lip plumpers,’ that would never make a Photoshopped picture of anyone s a victim of abuse okay.
This campaign is offensive not just to the celebrities who were forced to put themselves in the shoes that no woman wants to wear, it’s also extremely offensive to the women who tread this path every day. For a woman who is all too familiar with domestic abuse, to see photographs of celebrities who have never (to the public’s knowledge) experienced this is extremely insensitive. Trying to make a diamond-breathing Kardashian relatable in this way backfires because she doesn’t know what it’s like to be the Kim in that campaign photo. She’s the girl posing naked in the desert and eating ice cream sundaes in bed.
It’s true, domestic violence could happen to any of us, and even Kim could find herself a victim one day. If there’s one thing the Internet has taught us, it’s that anything is possible. But giving her Adobe bruises isn’t going to fix anything. It only brings attention to the cause for the wrong reasons. Now people are talking about the shock of it all. The fact that, yo, Kim looks rough. The violence against women– the real issue at hand here– gets lost in all the chatter.
Instead of creating a shock value campaign to raise awareness for something as serious as domestic violence, Palombo should have put his feelers out to celebrities who have been open about abuse. He could have created a moving campaign that actually resonated with people– victims or not. Making some of the world’s buzziest celebrities–celebrities that most of us probably can’t imagine breathing the same air as– the faces of a horrible abuse that they’ve never experienced only distances them further and makes the campaign feel, like the photos, not genuine, and we’re not here for this.