Media-bodies: what Kim Kardashian’s vulva can teach us about contemporary life

Our next Open Research Series event is this Wednesday, 11th November at 6pm in room RS501. In a slight change to the previously advertised title, Meredith Jones (Brunel University) will be joining us to talk about Kim Kardashian’s ‘media body’.


Media-Bodies: what Kim Kardashian’s vulva can teach us about contemporary life

‘When I came back from the hospital the first thing I did was go and look at my vagina in the mirror. It looks better looking than before’ (Kim Kardashian-West, Keeping up with the Kardashians, 2013).

Kim Kardashian-West aKim K Vagina 1rguably embodies and promotes the most fashionable body and face of our moment. The quote above is taken from the reality television show in which she stars with
other members of her family. Kardashian-West had just returned from hospital where she had given birth. In doing so her vulva’s capacity as a productive, powerful, movable, expandable, three-dimensional living object had been proven. And yet she was most keen to let the world know that her vulva still looked good in the mirror, that it still satisfied notions of beauty in context of a two-dimensional surface. This paper explores the notion of ‘media-bodies’ and shows how Kardashian-West’s vulva discursively and corporally demonstrates a cultural compulsion wherein skin must ‘speak’ its owner’s beauty, and where the appearances of bodies on screens are equally if not more important than their capacities as feeling, touching, mobile objects.

Dr Meredith Jones is a Reader in Gender and Media at Brunel University London. She is author of Skintight: An Anatomy of Cosmetic Surgery and Cosmetic Surgery: A Feminist Primer, and is founder of the Trunk book series (Hair and Blood, with Breath forthcoming). She has just completed a major collaborative project exploring the global cosmetic surgery tourist industry: http://www.ssss.leeds.ac.uk/ and is Ashgate’s Commissioning Editor for the series Gender, Bodies and Transformations: http://www.ashgate.com/gendertransformation.

This talk is open to staff, students and the public – if you’re outside the university, please email your name to Adam Eldridge in advance (a.c.eldridge@westminster.ac.uk).

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