29 Jun Sorry Khloe, Revenge Bodies are BS
According to the online library for all things slang, aka Urban Dictionary, a revenge body is a process that happens “When you break up with someone and you work your ass off to look the best you can just to piss him/her off and make them regret their poor choices.” But according to Khloe Kardashian, her new show Revenge Body is “deeper than a physical transformation. It is a spiritual and emotional transformation. The physical part is a bonus!”
Whether or not one is to believe Khloe’s description of a spiritually driven, emotional body transformation or the Urban Dictionary definition of using one’s body to say “eff you” to an ex, Revenge Body is a deeply troubling idea that is gaining popularity with the help of social media.
Khloe’s show starts with two people who have gained weight and thus “lost control over their lives,” because apparently anyone who isn’t thin isn’t able to take charge of their life choices. Once the participants have spoken about the trauma that sparked their weight gain, Khloe asks them who they want to get revenge on, and who inspired their desire to get a revenge body.
My ex. My friends. My mother.
None of the participants say me, none of them want to get healthy and fit for themselves, and herein lies the problem with Revenge Body. At its core, the show is simply another TV series buying into the multi-billion dollar idea that people cannot be happy if they are overweight. It isn’t a show about learning to love yourself; it is a show about changing yourself so that others will love you. It doesn’t matter how many solid gold facials or custom wardrobes Khloe’s production team dole out, nor does it matter how many trainers and crew members she employs to aid contestants’ spiritual transformations, Revenge Body will never be a show about the people it claims to help. It is a show about their abusers, about the people who have wronged them. The entire premise is centred around the participant’s bully and is contingent on them becoming conventionally attractive in order to move on from a trauma, because they are only vindicated if their bully affirms their weight loss.
One could argue that Khloe, like so many other people in the world, suffers from a type of internalised fatphobia. The idea that fat people cannot possibly be happy is so ingrained into our cultural psyche that weight loss is applauded while any form of fatness is shunned, to the extent that putting on weight has become something to be frightened off. Magazines, retailers and the fashion industry make billions selling diet culture by shaming people for being “overweight.” Through making the average dress size smaller than the average body size, the fear of appearing too large has created a generation of people who, often unknowingly, feel they are less worthy because of their weight.
But body dysmophia is not limited to those Khloe Kardashian might consider ‘overweight’. Millions of people struggle with body image even though they might be considered ‘skinny’. Khloe’s show makes money by perpetuating unhealthy stereotypes about fatness and thinness, but it also highlights an important point: self love and acceptance of one’s body, regardless of its size, is the only way to fight against things like Revenge Body.
People come in different shapes and sizes, and it is this uniqueness that makes each and every body beautiful. Fatphobia and body dysmorphia are byproducts of a cultural construct; they are not instinctual behaviours, but rather learned fears that are ingrained into us from early childhood. Radical self-love is the only way for us, as a generation, to make peace with our bodies.