Beauty vs Vulgarity: A Double Standard

By Patrick Hendrickson

The old saying goes that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, meaning that any person, any piece of art, anything really can be considered beautiful by someone and should be treated that way by everyone.

For the longest time, women have had to deal with two wrong thoughts about how to be beautiful. Being skinny to the point of undernourishment and being afraid to portray yourself in a way that some people mind consider vulgar.

However just recently Sports Illustrated has been challenged the idea that a woman has to be skinny to be beautiful by giving Ashley Graham, a plus-sized model, the front cover of its magazine. This is the first time this has ever been done by the magazine and I think it can be safely said that this is a respectable step both by the publication and a sign of bravery by Ms. Graham herself for helping to break this stereotype.

After all, it is her right as a human being to allow her body to be shown in whatever way she would like. It’s her body and she gets to choose what she does with it. Here is her magazine cover



Now take a look at someone who decided she too was proud of her body and wanted people to see.

What you’ll find is a similar enough picture of Kim Kardashian, with enough coverage to keep things classy. After all there isn’t much more coverage on Ashley Graham than Kim in her pictures.

And yet, Kim Kardashian has been getting lambasted left and right for her pictures. Which begs the question, why is it beautiful for one woman to do this and not for another?

My answer? People simply have decided that they don’t like Kim Kardashian for whatever reason, because she had a sex tape, because she comes from a wealthy family, because of who she’s married to, people simply have a problem and that problem is more important than women being able to feel comfortable with their bodies.

Because at the very end of it all Kim Kardashian is simply a woman who likes to show herself off regardless of how people think it makes her look.

Body-Shaming is the only term that describes it. Regardless of her public persona Kim Kardashian is a woman and a human being who does not deserve to be treated so viciously for taking a picture no more or no less “explicit” than any magazine like Sports Illustrated.

The argument can be made that portraying women in this way at all is sexist, to that I would say the hugely popular magazine merits more criticism than one woman’s Instagram account. Though that might just be my opinion.


Kile, Meredith B. “Bette Midler and Chloe Grace Moretz Slam Kim Kardashian for Nude Selfie.” Entertainment Tonight. N.p., 07 Mar. 2016. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.
Stern, Marlow. “Meet Ashley Graham, the ‘Sports Illustrated’ Swimsuit Issue’s First ‘Plus-Size’ Cover Girl.” The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, 17 Feb. 2016. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.

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UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism