Yesterday, Kim Kardashian posted a revealing photo of her posterior.
Nearly four months after giving birth to her first child, daughter North, the personality evidently felt confident enough to flaunt her figure. She has attributed her weight loss to the Atkins diet.
Shortly after the picture appeared in her Instagram feed, Kanye West (the baby's father for the few who might not know) tweeted, "Heading home now," using all-caps to underscore his, er, excitement.
As of this morning, the photo has received upwards of 837,000 "likes" on Instagram.
Unsurprisingly, it's also received a fair number of comments both praising and vilifying her. Various news sites have also weighed in. Daily Beast went so far as to declare it "the (butt) that almost broke the Internet."
On the one hand, Kardashian has put in great effort to regain her voluptuous silhouette in such a short time. It's a triumph of sorts. Here she is playing the game card that attracted so many people to her in the first place. Public displays of her body (even while we are asked to respect the privacy of her child) remain her stock and trade.
But in leaving so little to the imagination, she has also simultaneously raised the bar on what women should look like postpregnancy.
And she's not the only one.
Maria Kang has also generated a fair amount of commentary recently for posing in a photo with her three young sons dressed in a sport bra and short shorts. Without a doubt, her exposed, impressively toned abs are the focus. Above the family portrait, she's added the line (plus her website): What's your excuse?
Kang is more or less an ordinary woman. Unlike Kardashian, she keeps a training regimen without limitless resources and support. And yet she, too, has been subject to "fit-shaming" for striving for her physique despite – or in spite of – being a mother.
"You know what, this photo doesn't speak to everybody and I understand that," she explained to Inside Edition.
On her Facebook page, Kang wrote, "I know some of you have seen the news and the motherhood/weight/bully/fat-shaming debate is on a roll. For those who have supported me and follow my site and this page I want to say THANK YOU... I am a real mom, with real obligations and this is a real picture of me – excess skin and all – saying YOU are beautiful. Motherhood is beautiful. AND it can make you better!"
So maybe the takeaway message here is that the pressure for a body ideal postpregnancy is as high as ever, fuelled as much by those in the public eye as those who lead ordinary lives. Maybe it's that a woman who works as hard on her figure as her family has earned the right to show off her sculpted silhouette.
Or perhaps, quite simply, we cannot resist passing judgment on women's bodies – especially when they invite us to do so.