Kim Kardashian, selfies and the cult of physical perfection
A reflection on the dangers of idealising physical perfection, by Mark Roques
Kim Kardashian is a potent prophetess for the contemporary pagan worship of Venus. She earns millions serving the goddess of beauty and sex. In 2015 she published a book Selfish, packed with her self-portraits, her very best selfies. A selfie is a photo that one takes of oneself, typically taken with a smart phone and then shared on social media. In 2014 that noble game Scrabble accepted the word.
What can we learn from this popular evangelist for Venus?
To begin with we need to understand her dynamic, pulsating, shameless pagan faith. We live in a society that idealises physical perfection. Many today crave the perfect body which exudes sexual energy, libido and lethal attractiveness. This faith can be traced back to the ancient Greeks who understood their gods to be incredibly hot and insufferably good-looking. Ordinary Greek punters were desperate to imitate Gorgeous Venus and Handsome Mars, the god of war.
So they started the Olympic games. By throwing javelins, discuses and running naked, these novices would start to look like the gods. Achilles was the supreme Greek warrior who most closely resembled the gods. He was the living embodiment of divine perfection. And his dad was Zeus! Achilles and his chums basked in the wondrous glories of their perfect bodily kits. Chiseled chins and six packs were ubiquitous. And, of course, they sacrificed daily to this fetid idol of physical perfection.
Today we are witnessing a revival in this Greek pagan adulation of the body. We need to notice that this pagan revival has dangerous social explosions.
In 2014 Danny Bowman,19, spent ten hours a day taking up to 200 selfies on his smart phone. He dropped out of school, lost two stone trying to look ‘perfect’. Finally in despair, he took an overdose but was saved by his mum. In this mindset individuals are focused on the secular salvation of their bodies. The individual body must be worshipped and appeased. We must sacrifice to this fickle body god.
In short we become desperate slaves to our demanding bodies.
The narrative goes like this: “If my body looks good, I will be saved. I will prosper and find the perfect mate. I will be a winner. If my body looks inferior I will be rejected. I will be a lonely Billy no mates. I will be a loser.”
Ordinary lads like Danny are being discipled by Kim Kardashian and her many celebrity friends who share her tawdry faith in Venus.
Consider the tragic story of Sarah Burge who has spent £500,000 on plastic surgery for herself. She has promised her young daughter, Poppy, that she can have plenty of operations when she is 18! Sarah is living in this dark pagan story. She is desperate to emulate the current canon of beauty and she sacrifices to Venus on a daily basis. She is also discipling her daughter Poppy to follow Venus.
This aggressive pagan faith is nurturing a generation of young people who are filled with shame, anxiety and self-loathing. Discussions about ‘mental health’ completely ignore this.
The elite (Kim et al) can bask in their expressive and costly individualism. They promulgate the gospel of Venus and her five commandments.
Follow your heart!
Be physically perfect!
Indulge your daily craving for outrageous individuality!
Be uniquely You!
Shun anyone who challenges your sacred autonomy!
These elite semi-gods (celebrities) spend huge sums of money as they serve the cult of physical perfection. It is a tad ironic that Kim believes she is proclaiming her unique individuality but she is really selling herself as a commodified sex object to be leered at by dodgy geezers. It is vital that we connect this pagan faith to the toxic miseries of so many young people today.
In 2008 a 13 year old girl from Leeds took her life because she thought she was ‘fat and ugly’. Do we notice the poison that the worship of Venus brings into our broken world?
Perhaps the most graphic way to understand this unnoticed and unexamined pagan faith is to go on Facebook. On Facebook there is an organisation called – “The Overweight Haters Ltd.” Here are some of their catch phrases.
“Our organisation hates and resents fat people. We also object that the beautiful pig is used as an insult. You are not a pig. You are a fat ugly human.”
Venus worship divides humanity into two tribes. The ugly damned and the gorgeous saved ones.
I’d like to get a bit personal here. I struggle with my weight and I am no oil painting myself. I’d be delighted if I could lose two stone by shunning cake and pasta. How do I look at my own body? I see my body as a gift from God. I want to worship the Gift-giver and not the gift. I want to renounce any worship or adulation of the body. I also reject the view that the body is inferior and merely a prison for my immortal soul. Another very bad Greek idea. Both these views deny important and very liberating biblical truth.
For God calls me to be a steward of this gift…flab, paunch and all. My body is far from perfect and that’s why I need to go out running three times a week. That’s why I need to cut down on the chocolate and in particular those delicious KitKats you can buy so easily in shops.
But my body does not create my identity and my worth. God gives this to me. Yes my body is groaning in the pain and flatulence of living in a broken world. My confident hope is that one day the Lord Jesus will return and fill this broken world with his joy and gladness. I don’t need to take selfies because one day I will enjoy bodily resurrection. I will dance, sing and rejoice clothed in that perfect resurrection body before my King. No shame and no self-worship in the age to come.
Image | Marcos Paulo Prado | Unsplash
Mark Roques is the Director of RealityBites, where this blog was first published. It is republished with permission. He preaches at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Leeds.
If you would like to become more confident and creative in talking about God do consider buying the new RealityBites resource Slave Chronicles and Dangerous Beliefs: Discipling Others Through Creative Storytelling.
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