Kim Kardashian, Emily Ratajkowski, Megan Barton-Hanson and the naked feminists who've taken bra burning a little too literally

A new wave of celebrities are declaring themselves feminists while at the same time being more than happy to strip off for a selfie if Instagram requires it – and they're making millions from it.

Emily Ratajkowski is a poster girl for this trend.

She built a career off the back dancing naked in the famously misogynistic track Blurred Lines in 2013 – yet she speaks passionately about abortion rights and was recently arrested at a protest, holding a placard reading "Respect female existence".

She addressed this contradiction earlier this week, saying: “If you can’t take a woman seriously because you’ve seen her without clothes, then that’s your problem.”

Just like her fellow naked feminists Kim Kardashian and Megan Barton-Hanson, Emily has made millions – she can earn £27,000 for a single Instagram post – from parading her naked and semi-naked body across social media.

But while earning a fortune from pouting and being plucked within an inch of their lives, what might be empowering for these celebs – or at least enriching for their bank balances – just what effect is this having on ordinary women?

They claim that getting naked empowers women – but is it possible to be a feminist and a pin-up?

Yes, a key part of feminism is the right for a woman to have full control over her body.

But the problem with using this argument to justify a series of topless selfies is that the hyper-sexualised ideal they're promoting is squarely aimed at men, not women.

While Emily is lucky enough to naturally have an enviable figure, Kim K and Megan’s social media feeds show yet another photo of a perfectly sculpted woman, possibly with lip fillers, botox, boob jobs and filters.

These just add to the pressure young women are already facing to look and act a certain way.

Rather than something that’s purely for the rich and famous, cosmetic surgery is now becoming the norm.

Research from Mintel shows that 28 per cent of 18-24 year-olds have had cosmetic surgery and a nearly a third of 25-34 year olds have.

Add to this Superdrug offering botox and fillers on your lunch break and Love Island filing its ad breaks with boob job commercials, and you’ve got an entire industry telling young women that they’re not good enough as they are.

When we see these Naked Feminists on Instagram the message they promote is that every woman should be aspiring to be confident in her body, and that the way to do this is to look like them.

And if you can’t look like them then don’t worry, Kim K has a slimming lolly she can sell you.

This isn’t positive for young women.

Forget your curves, get a career

If it continues to make women feel like they’re not good enough, and that they should be focused on their bodies rather than their happiness, their friends or their careers, then the empowerment is lost.

The reality is that while the likes of Kim K or Emily Ratajkowski might have millions of Instagram followers and be making thousands of dollars for a single sponsored post, many young women are spending their hard-earned cash on lunchtime botox and discounted fillers just to take a picture that makes them look like their hero.

And then they go back to work to earn more money to do the same again the next day.

That’s not empowering, that’s being a slave to the selfie, and we need to stop selling that under the mantle of feminism. Here we examine the Naked Feminists credentials.

"The lines might be blurred but the selfies definitely aren’t” feminist

Emily Ratajkowski

Social media followers: Instagram 20.2million, Twitter 1.27million

Worth: £4.5million

What she can earn for an Instagram post: £27,000

Naked credentials: Ratajkowski burst onto our screens in the Blurred Lines video where she was nude apart from a flesh coloured thong, as the fully clothed Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams sang around her.

She’s added to this a lot since then; the regular naked selfies with Kim Kardashian, an Instagram that treads a fine line between enjoying her body and flogging her swimwear brand, and a series of magazine photo shoots where the clothing budget was apparently zero.

The saucy spaghetti photo shoot that saw her writhing naked on a pile of pasta for Love magazine was all about laughing at the ridiculousness of how we decide what is sexy.

Feminist credentials: On the one hand she comes across as your classic Instagram model, chasing likes with yet another topless selfie.

But Ratajkowski’s feminist protestations aren’t limited to just demanding women be more confident.

She took to the New York streets with thousands of other women to protest the arraignment of Brett Kavanaugh – who was alleged to have sexually assaulted a woman – and ended up arrested for it.

She leapt to the defence of Melania Trump when she felt the media was sl*tshaming her.

And back in 2015 she designed a dress range where 25 per cent of the profits went to Planned Parenthood, which provides reproductive health care in the States.

The “likes a good slogan” feminist

Megan Barton Hanson

Social media followers: Instagram 1.8million, Twitter 76.6k

Worth: Expected to make £1.5million post Love Island

What they can earn for a sponsored Instagram post: around £3,800 a post.

Naked credentials: Before entering Love Island Megan made a living as a stripper and a webcam girl – when your job is taking your clothes off, you need to be comfortable with nudity.

She became the siren of the Love Island villa over the summer, a reality TV job where the clothing requirements are 32 bikinis and a lot of sun cream.

That said, her Instagram has got a lot more clothed since coming out of the Love Island villa – that’s what happens when you’ve got clothing brands wanting to pay you to keep their clothes on.

Feminist credentials: On leaving the Love Island villa Megan hit back at the criticism of her dancing and webcam past with an Instagram post of Madeleine Albright’s famous quote, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support other women”.

In this case Megan was supporting any woman’s right to do whatever they want with their bodies, and a slogan t-shirt on Good Morning Britain asking everyone to “stop valuing women based on their sexual history” added to her campaign.

The soulful, and wallet-full, feminist

Kim Kardashian

Social media followers: Instagram 120million, Twitter 59.4million

Worth: £265million

What she earns for an Instagram post: estimated at £550,000 a post

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Halloween 2018

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Halloween 2018

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Halloween 2018

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Naked credentials: Like quite a few of our “Naked Feminists” so far, Kardashian’s career was launched off the back of her naked body, when she made a sex tape her mother then went on to sell.

Since then there have been Playboy shoots, and a bottle of champagne shooting its load all over her naked behind.

The Keeping Up With the Kardashians star might deny she’s ever had any surgery but that hasn’t stopped others speculating.

She was always naturally curvy but her body and face have changed dramatically over the years. Rumours abound of a nose-job, fillers, a Brazillian butt lift and liposuction.

And for someone who claims to be completely body-confident, this only seems to apply when she feels her body meets a certain standard.

Following the birth of North West, Kardashian apparently refused to go out in public until she’d got her post-baby body back.

Despite this, she is keen to defend her right to be as naked as she likes. In 2016 she penned an essay defending her nude Instagram shots, stating, “I will not live my life dictated by the issues you have with my sexuality”.

And she hasn’t, her naked Instagram posts are so famous that there’s a Kimoji featuring a pair of breasts with a black bar across them.

She also launched a 'women's empowerment' add-on to her personal emoji collection for Internationl Women's Day – but received backlash for their provocative and sexualised nature.

Feminist credentials: Kardashian is a feminist “in her soul”. No-one is entirely clear what this means but Kim is very clear that it doesn’t mean she would ever actually call herself a feminist.

She will happily talk about the importance of a woman feeling confident in her body – but only as long as that body fits the particular shape of a small waist and big bum.

And if it doesn’t, then don’t worry: Kim’s got a waist trainer you can buy.

Ultimately, she is the poster child for making money out of female empowerment, just as long as empowerment is defined as having an acceptably body type and not actually any power.

The “does what she wants and does good” Feminist


Social media followers: Instagram 65.8million, Twitter 88.8million

Worth: £185million

What they earn for an Instagram post: around £380,000

Naked credentials: She’s definitely not apologising for taking her clothes off but the one thing you can see in Rihanna’s Instagram is the clear difference between a shoot aimed at men and those she takes for her own pleasure.

An Esquire shoot has her soaking wet and looking small and vulnerable, but Rihanna’s own selfie sees her chilling on a sunlounger in a makeshift bikini.

Unlike Ratajkowski who happily admits that her Instagram perpetuates the fantasy the world has of her, Rihanna seems determined to poke fun at it.

Feminist credentials: She's described by some as the best role model for young women as Rihanna proudly is who she is and doesn’t apologise for it.

She’s got herself in trouble for saying that she finds men telling her what to do sexy, and that if she wasn’t a singer she’d be a wife but her actions behind the scenes are radically feminist.

Her charity, the Clara Lional Foundation, provides financial support for health, education and emergency response programmes across the world.

And in 2017 she was not only named Humanitarian of the Year but she also convinced Dior to give a portion of the profits made from it’s “We Should all be Feminists” t-shirt to her foundation.

She joined the 2017 Women’s March dressed in a “This P***y Grabs Back” sweatshirt.

Above all she stands for doing what you want, when you want it and not having to apologise for it.

The original naked feminist

The new Naked Feminists prove that there is money to be made by promoting female empowerment on the one hand and taking your clothes off on the other – but what would the original feminists make of it all?

Back in 1971 Germaine Greer, one of the leading voices of second wave feminism and author of The Female Eunuch, became the first naked feminist by posing nude for Suck magazine.

Nearly fifty years later and she definitely isn’t promoting it as a lifestyle choice.

In a BBC documentary Germaine questioned why Beyoncé wore so little in her stage shows saying, “why has she always got to be f***ing naked? I’m not saying you have to keep your clothes on but why is sexual display part of the job?”

This seems to be the point that today’s Naked Feminists have missed: by all means take your clothes off, but understand that when you’re promoting a particular kind of body image and a particular type of female sexuality then you’re telling the next generation of young women that their value is still based on how much men desire them.

And that definitely isn’t feminism.

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