WOMEN
04/11/2013 11:51 am ET Updated Apr 12, 2013

Gloria Steinem Defends Kim Kardashian: 'Our Bodies Are Never Public Property'

Kim Kardashian is getting support from someone very unexpected -- feminist icon Gloria Steinem.

Us Weekly caught up with the 79-year-old at the fourth annual Diane Von Furstenberg Awards and spoke about the fat-shaming of Kardashian's changing body and society's treatment of pregnant women overall. Steinem defended Kardashian against critics, saying that a woman's body is hers and hers alone.

"Our bodies are never public property under any circumstance," she told the magazine. "It's wrong, and people in the street who feel the right to touch a pregnant woman's belly ought to be arrested for harassment. Our bodies belong to us, and if we don't invite touching, we shouldn't tolerate it."

"If our bodies are treated as ornaments instead of instruments, that's because we are rebelling because it's an effort to distract us," she added. "So don't be distracted. Why bother getting caught up in that?"

Society's manipulation of body image is something Steinem has long protested. Last year, she sat down with Oprah Winfrey and students from Barnard College to discuss the struggle of females to attain a positive body image.

"We are supposed to internalize this ideal that if we just look different, we would get more pay," she said. "And we're made to feel that our bodies are ornaments, not instruments. Boys are told their bodies are instruments."

Steinem's position on Kardashian is decidedly different from the one she took on the Kardashian sisters in 2011. The former editor of Ms. magazine told the New York Daily News the reality stars don't empower other women, adding that "there's no point in blaming the people who take advantage of the system without changing the system."

But Steinem isn't the only one who has been willing to come quickly to the defense of the pregnant E! Entertainment star. Other celebrities are fed up with tabloids spewing stories about Kardashian's eating habits, her weight gain and her supposed ploy to land a diet deal.

Model Helena Christensen slammed Kardashian's critics as "disgusting and despicable" for their harassment and "public bullying" of the 32-year-old. Likewise, Gwyneth Paltrow told ET Online that women need to support each other through pregnancy.

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