Khloe Kardashian rocked a bikini in a poolside photo that made the rounds online, but instead of featuring the usual filters and meticulous retouching people have come to expect from the famous family, the photo appears to be completely unedited.
Fans praised the photo, which was reposted on Instagram, Twitter, Reddit and other sites. But just as quickly as the photo was shared, the Kardashian's PR team appeared to be working behind the scenes to get it removed.
Khloe Kardashian addressed the controversy on Instagram Wednesday night by sharing a video of her body unretouched, along with a clip of her showing off her body an Instagram Live to prove she wasn't using filters.
"Hey guys, this is me and my body un-retouched and unfiltered," she wrote. "The photo that was posted this week was beautiful. But as someone who has struggled with body image her whole life, when someone takes a photo of you that isn't flattering, in bad lighting, or doesn't capture your body the way it is after working [too] hard to get it to this point - and then shares it to the world - you should have every right to ask for it not to be shared - no matter who you are."
She also addressed the public scrutiny she has received about the way she looks and comparing her to her sisters.
"In truth, the pressure, constant ridicule, and judgment my entire life to be perfect and to meet other's standards of how I should look has been too much to bear. 'Khloé is the fat sister.' 'Khloé is the ugly sister.' 'Her dad must not be her real dad because she looks so different.' 'The only way she could have lost that weight must have been from surgery,'" she added.
Earlier this week, Tracy Romulus, chief marketing officer for KKW Brands, told Page Six the photo was posted by accident.
"The color edited photo was taken of Khloe during a private family gathering and posted to social media without permission by mistake by an assistant," she said. “Khloe looks beautiful but it is within the right of the copyright owner to not want an image not intended to be published taken down.”
Romulus did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TMRW.
Just as quickly as the photo was removed, screenshots began to proliferate across social media.
Amanda Hirsch, host of the "Not Skinny But Not Fat" podcast, didn't repost the photo, but shared screenshots of takedown notices other people received after they did.
"I have seen the photo of Khloe, and think it is gorgeous," Hirsch told TMRW. "I, like everyone else, can tell it's unedited, but that is the absolute beauty of it. Her face looks like old Khloe, her body is banging and honestly flawless, it's just not airbrushed, edited and Photoshopped to the max. She looks so young and fresh."
Kardashian debuted a new look in March 2020 that was nearly unrecognizable to fans. While she looks great in both, many people agreed they loved seeing the reality TV star rock a more natural look.
"Girl I’m just saying that unfiltered photo is one of your best yet. @khloekardashian like S T U N N I N G. Own it!" one fan tweeted.
"They’re doing a lot for a photo that’s been shared everywhere. It’s not even bad, just shows what Khloe really looks like, which is actually better than the image she tries to put out there. This is wild," another person tweeted in response to a takedown notice.
A representative for Instagram declined to comment on why the photo was removed, but referred TMRW to its policies on intellectual property.
"Generally, copyright protects original expression such as words or images," Instagram's policy reads.
A Twitter spokesperson told TMRW that the company will "respond to valid copyright complaints sent to us by a copyright owner or their authorized representatives," as was the case with the bikini photo.
Of course, attempts at censorship can often lead to even greater interest. In 2003, when Barbra Streisand tried to censor a photo of her Malibu mansion that was taken by the California Coastal Records Project to document coastal erosion, she inadvertently drew more attention to the photo of her home.
The term "Streisand effect" was coined after the incident and is now used to describe the unintended consequences of censoring online information by drawing even more attention to the hidden material.
While it's not hard to find the photo with a little digging on Google, the uproar over its swift removal is making people even more curious to see what the fuss is about.
While fans are puzzled as to why the Kardashians are desperate to hide a perfectly beautiful photo, Hirsch said she feels bad for Khloe Kardashian and the comments she has received in the past about her appearance or comparing her to her sisters.
"I know a lot of accounts and people 'coming' for Khloe saying she could have been empowering women and girls with this unedited photo, and she is doing the opposite by causing such a ruckus trying to take it down," Hirsch said. "But, I feel bad for Khloe ... It's honestly very sad because we're all looking at the picture thinking that she looks great, but she obviously doesn't."