“So what: I have a little cellulite!”

Kim Kardashian posted a pre-photoshopped picture of herself from her Complex Magazine photoshoot to her blog saying she is aware she has cellulite and “which curvy girl doesn’t?” Complex had “mistakenly” run the pre-photoshopped picture showing her *gasp* cellulite. Soon after they took the picture down replacing it with one that trims down her thighs and lightens her skin.
Kim’s response,
“I’m proud of my body and my curves and this picture coming out is probably helpful for everyone to see that just because I am on the cover of a magazine doesn’t mean I’m perfect.”
Kudos to her for saying that. Frankly, I see very little actual difference between the two pictures, but the subtle changes make a huge difference and I think it speaks to the extent popular culture will go to produce unnatural and unattainable images of women.

Join the Conversation

  • Rachel_in_WY

    I like that this draws attention to the fact that they lightened her skin too. I think most people realize that they photoshop things like cellulite away, but we don’t usually talk about skin tone.


    I am APPALLED that people actually make fun of her. I mean, helloooo? She’s gorgeous and I wish I have her body… but I’m sure they’re jealous, insecure and bitter with their own bodies.


    yeah, I’m bothered they lightened her skin. they also made Freida Pinto look pale as hell when she did a photo spread for a mag (I think Vanity Fair?).
    WTF. Oh please, somebody buy me a tube of White Beauty skin lightening cream!!!!!

  • Daniel Koffler

    I never thought I’d ever find myself praising Kim Kardashian’s courage, but there you have it.

  • erinelizabeth

    This picture has been hanging around my head all week, precisely because of the ‘cellulite’ in the first picture (which I thought were just blood vessels showing through the skin). I know all these photos are photoshopped, but just seeing actual human flesh and blood really hit me. I thought, “Oh, she looks human. Like me.”

  • Samhita

    That is exactly what I felt when this article fell in my inbox.

  • wax_ghost

    Except that they lightened the whole picture, so it makes sense that her skin is lighter too. I’d be more than willing to point out racism if I saw it but knowing what I do about photography and Photoshop, I don’t see it here.

  • herong

    THEY LIGHTENED HER SKIN!! WTF!! They also trimmed her waist, thighs, and arms and ‘cleaned up’ her hair line. Ugh.

  • katie

    Is it me, or do her shoulders also look thinner? It’s like they photoshopped a few inches off her entire body. No wonder so many women have complexes about their bodies.

  • jak

    in the photoshopped version, her skin, legs in particular, look like plastic.
    in the original, i wouldn’t even have called the marks cellulite- just normal variation in skin tone.
    also, her waist is noticeably smaller (and even her arm looks thinner, though that could be my imagination) in the photoshopped one. yuck.

  • Samhita

    If you look at it long enough the photoshopped one really starts to look unnatural.

  • delicatetbone

    But then she says this:
    “At the same time as this Complex shoot, I was gearing up for my fitness DVD and you should see my thighs now!!! Haha!
    This all motivates me to stay in the gym because my goal this year has been to get in better shape and tone up! Hard work pays off!

    So she basically negates the body love by talking about how she needs to work it off! I’m not impressed.

  • delicatetbone

    sorry my italics didn’t work — that second sentence is hers as well
    “This all motivates me to stay in the gym because my goal this year has been to get in better shape and tone up! Hard work pays off!”
    from here

  • teacherwoman

    I even forget sometimes that magazine pictures are photoshopped. I look at Kim, who has curves like me, and wonder: How can she have that shape without any cellulite?
    Photos like this bring me back to reality. Duh! I wish photoshop didn’t even exist!

  • TheKeshKesh7

    Here’s why I love my boyfriend:
    So I covered up the second, photoshopped picture, and asked what he thought of the picture.
    Here’s what he said: “I don’t know, it’s just… she’s too skinny [her waist] to go… with those hips and breasts…. [her makeup] is way overdone… [she] doesn’t even need makeup.”
    Feminist boyfriends are the best.

  • penny rose

    My husband actually like the first picture better. Most men I know would not turn her away because of a little cellulite.
    I wonder if they photoshop pictures of women for the benefit of men or just so women can make comparison with their own bodies?

  • argon

    It’s come to a sad pass when Kimmy K is a feminist icon.

  • Lisa

    Throughout history people have sought to create images of the of perfection. Artists have used paint, etchings, and stone to create their concept of the ideal aesthetic for humans and often these works of art represent a level of beauty that is unattainable. The problem is one of the ways in which this pursuit has transitioned into modern times. Now we take an image of a real person and overlay it with the art of lighting, composition, makeup, hair, and finally photoshop (and while the beauty standard they push towards may be unsettling, I do think that touch-up people are extremely talented artists). They do it with people who are TV personalities, who we think we know. And they pass them off as reality, rather than a work of art created through the compilation of various artists. You combine that with a culture that places appearance at or near the pinnacle of the value hierarchy for women and you’ve got a society in which women will never feel good enough. Hell the women in the photos don’t even look that good (by this I mean according to the beauty ideal of the greater society, obviously many people think they look better in person).
    Aside from using photoshop to slim people down, I’ve noticed that it is often used to reduce the unpleasant side-effects of being too thin. Jutting bones are softened, visible veins are removed, and sunken cheeks are filled in. Very thin is pushed so hard as the beauty ideal, but they cover up the evidence of how unhealthy this can be for some people.

  • cocolamala

    they somewhat lightened the pic overall, but start by comparing her hair color between the two pics.
    her hair is dark black in both pics. her black outfit is a little greyer in the second pic though.
    the skin tone on her arm and legs do not have the same reddish brownish tone in the photoshopped pic.
    they also smoothed down the top of her bodysuit above her belt by her right arm (see where it gaps in the first pic?)
    they neatened the edge of her shirt where it hits her right thigh and darkened the background so less skin would show through.
    following the line of her shirt around to the other side (on her left), you can see where they shaved down the curve made by her hip/stomach and thigh.
    actually, following that line up, you can see they added a little more curve to the bust line above her belt. (or maybe they subtracted from her belt/waist — i can’t tell).
    oh, and on her right sleeve, they smoothed down the little point made by the fabric.

  • argon

    Despite my earlier sarcastic rejoinder, I agree with everyone that Kimmy’s remarks are positive and it’s good to find progressive voices in (very) unexpected places. If she is able to maintain a positive body image despite being a curvy woman living in a “TMZ” world, that has to be a remarkable example.

  • cocolamala

    that said, kim kardashian takes a wonderful un-retouched photo!

  • Merk

    Horseshit. She’s hotter in the original.

  • dormouse

    I don’t see why everyone here is praising her for being some sort of feminist. She only said what she did in order to save face, but ultimately, the picture was still changed.
    I wonder, does a model have any power to insist that her picture be left as is?

  • Liza

    That happens with most photoshopped images.

  • Lumix

    I read somewhere (I think it may have been here on Feministing) about an actor (I’m thinking maybe Scarlett Johanssen or Natalie Portman) who agreed to do a photoshoot with the stipulation that her photos could not be touched up at all.
    I think actors have more power in this situation simply because photos only help publicize; photos are a model’s livelihood but not an actor’s. So I would guess that people who only model for a living have less sway when it comes to how their photos are doctored or not doctored.
    If they don’t want their pictures messed with then they will probably have to look elsewhere for a job!

  • Rachel_in_WY

    Yeah, I often end up lightening the whole photo when enhancing the pics of my kids. Still given the ads for skin-lightening treatments that my friends in India and Pakistan send me, if does seem likely that the skin of WoC would get lightened in photos like this at times.

  • Newbomb Turk

    I’m a straight man and I prefer the first picture, too. The second picture is overexposed and I find that annoying.
    I’m also annoyed that they would doctor the photo to make her hips, waist and ass look smaller when having wide hips and a bigger, rounder butt than the typical model is a major reason why she has so many fans in the first place.
    It’s like doctoring a photo of Jane Seymour, who is famous for having very long hair, to make her hair look shorter. WTF?

  • NapoleonInRags

    I don’t think there has been an inordinate amount of unqualified praise here, and I haven’t seen anyone claiming that Kardashian is herself a feminist hero. I think many folks who read this blog have both eyes open in regard to problematic standards of beauty and the role played by photographers, models, publishers et. al. in perpetuating these standards.
    Still, her comments suggest an awareness of these problematic standards and go a bit further than ‘saving face’, I think. It is important that women and men who are perceived by audiences as ‘inside’ this industry speak honestly about these issues. I guarantee that Kim Kardashian’s comments regarding an acceptance of her body will be more widely distributed and accepted by a larger audience than the same comments coming from an avowedly feminist blogger. This is unfortunate, perhaps, but it is the world we live in. If even a few women and girls who are starving themselves on account of such standards think twice because of comments like these, the net benefit is fantastic.

  • LalaReina

    Good for Kim, I like her. I like Reggie better thats a sexy morsel. Yeah I said it, did I objectify? opps.

  • wax_ghost

    Yeah, I agree. I have definitely seen it happen in other photos of famous people of color, too. Just wanted to point out that that didn’t seem to be the case here, but that is a good point and there is plenty more to pick on besides that (like, why even Photoshop it in the first place beyond a few technical corrections?!).

  • anteup

    Dude, I started getting cellulite when I was 17 years old, 6′, 130lbs. I still have just as much now that I’m 4 years older and ten pounds heavier!

  • nightingale

    http://photoshopdisasters.blogspot.com/ is one of my favorite blogs for keeping in mind that nearly everything is photoshopped. Not quite safe for work, but scroll down to “Pabo: Fat Is A Frequently Missed Issue” it’s absolutely great.
    I’ve reached the point where now whenever I see, “Person lost X pounds and kept it off, here’s how!” or “Look like a celebrity, secrets inside!” I wonder if they’ve finally found a way to photoshop real life.

  • ShifterCat

    About the hair vs. skin — they might have upped the contrast for the picture. That’s something I often do myself, just because I find it makes the picture’s elements “pop” more.
    I’m not sure how to avoid lightening skin — perhaps select that area with a mask and up the contrast on everything else?

  • kelseyfro7

    Keira Knightley.

  • kelseyfro7

    I commend Kim for her comments. It also makes me very happy to see that in the original picture, you can see all of the veins under the skin on her legs. That’s completely the story of my life, and you never see that on models–presumably because of photoshop more than anything.
    I think we also need to keep in mind that photoshop is an evil that goes both ways. I remember an article about Keira Knightley being way too skinny, and the photo accompanying it showed her looking like a skeleton. However, after very limited research on Google Images, I found the actual picture–with her looking much healthier in her naturally-thin state. People use photoshop on celebrities to spread whatever image they want of them.

  • Citizen Lane

    I’m going to bet that it’s for women, to try and sell them products to make them thinner and lighter.
    Most guys I know don’t find the super-thin model archetype attractive, and we’re well aware that photos in magazines are airbrushed. But in a fashion magazine, or one aimed at women, that is filled with advertisements, if you make pictures look unobtainable to everyone you entice everyone to buy the products to make themselves “look better,” though I’m willing to bet that men and women that you talk to about the types of women they’re attracted to will tell you: I like a woman that looks normal and natural, not like a plastic doll.

  • LukeCanJuggle

    I just want to point out that, if in inclined, one can very easily use layers and brush-through effects to lighten, sharpen, or manipulate in any way only specific areas of a photograph with any professional photo-editing software.
    It would have been a pretty simple task to keep the model’s original skin-tone intact. I can conceive of a scenario in which the lighter skin is just a side effect of overall lightening, but in a photo this heavily retouched, I doubt it very much. Look how smooth the overall color is in the second photo.. particularly her shirt.. err… top thingy. All of that detail was brought out very carefully. Which, to me, means someone very carefully crafted every aspect of this image, including skin tone.

  • RedPersephone

    Complex is a vile, vile publication. For some unknown reason, my SO has been getting it in the mail for the past six months or so (even got two last month!). He had never heard of it before, let alone requested it. I looked through the first two issues, just to see what they contained, and my chin was on the floor in shock and disgust.
    I now call it “Misogyny Monthly” and they go straight in the recycle bin.

  • Focused

    Seeing this was really eye-opening for me. I always heard the phrase “air-brushed” but… I have always had horrible body-image issues. My mom used to be a model and would tell me growing up how fat and ugly I was… she taught me that women are supposed to look like the photoshopped images. Seeing this REALLY enlightened me!
    Not that I didn’t know my mother’s hatred of my body was unhealthy and abusive, but even so. Seeing is believing I suppose.

  • nella

    I think she looks very beautiful in the first picture, the second looks rather artificial. As someone who has suffered with body dysmorphic disorder for 10 years, its a very painful subject for me. It makes my blood boil to see women’s looks being censored by the media as though they are imperfect by default if they are natural.


    Sexist AND racist!
    The bigotry daily double!
    I guess Armenian-Americans STILL aren’t considered White in California!


    Yes, they made her waist narrower, and her thighs, shoulders, arms and head smaller.
    They also “Whitened her up” and made her thighs look unnaturally smooth.


    I’m also a straight man – and she looks way better, and more NATURAL in the first pic than in the second. In the second pic she looks like a barbie doll!

  • feministabroad

    So they couldn’t just lighten the background without lightening her skin?

  • Rachel

    I thought her response was admirable in light of the criticism she must be getting. But I wish she had left out the part about her new fitness video and how this helps keep her motivated to stay in the gym.

  • Rachel

    That’s because cellulite is more genetic than weight-dependent. If you want to know how much cellulite you might get, look at your mother.

  • Rachel

    Kate Winslet is also a strong opponent of photo doctoring and by most accounts, refuses to allow her photos to be airbrushed. In her new film, The Reader, she even refused a thinner body double for the nude scenes.

  • Rebecca_J

    They basically censor the fat not to make her look “better” but to make her looks more unattainable. Stars are meant to be up on this pedestal so that the rest of us plebes can aspire to be like them and buy more creams and diet books. Taking our time and money away from more important things.
    I remember when I was a teenager with big time acne looking at the altered images in Cosmo and Teen mags…not knowing about the photo manipulation, I thought to myself well there are just some people who are born perfect and others, like myself, are just ugly trolls. Of course they don’t show the “before” pics where the model has a zit colony on her chin that they erased.
    And it is getting WAY out of hand these days. Has anyone noticed that? Before, models were photoshopped but at least they still had a nod to the existence of pores. Nowadays the trend is more toward the look of a wax mannequin or a character from a video game. Utterly plastic; realer than real.
    Someone mentioned above about how some actors refuse to have their images altered and I really, really respect and appreciate that. What I DON’T appreciate is public figures just shrugging it off and saying “everyone gets photoshopped.” They’re complicit in the “shopping” around of a lie. This is what the previously mentioned actors understand and don’t wish to be a part of.

  • cocolamala

    okay, then look at the lighting on her face and chest between pics. her chest is very light in both (makes sense, my chest is generally lighter than my arms and legs because it doesn’t get as much sun). Her face is somewhat lighter in the second pic, not a whole lot of difference though. But her legs and arms are much lighter in the re-touched photo. They are the same tone as her chest. It seems like they just picked that tone and applied it all over her body.

  • BuckEee

    Next thing you know it will come out that Kim grows body hair, takes shits, drools in her sleep, and gets boob sweat! Ewww! The humanization of Maxim-hot-list fantasy women must be stopped before all straight men permanently lose their hard ons!!