Last week, there was a spirited Twitter kerfuffle between Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa, which expanded to include SlutWalk promoterAmber Rose (who dated Kanye and married Wiz). Insults were hurled, shade was thrown, and there was general bad blood and hateration. But. Last night, Kim Kardashian (who is currently married to Kanye West) and Amber Rose both posted a photo of themselves posing very close together to Twitter and Instagram. The Daily Beast claims the photo "breaks the internet;" TMZ reports there was a "secret meeting to squash beef;" the New York Daily News dubbed it a "truce selfie;" The Huffington Post declares that there were "peace talks." But what does the image itself reveal? Let's take a look…
According to TMZ, Kim invited Amber over to chat, but this arm, angled toward the lens, informs us that Amber's the one who took the shot. Did she do so at Kim's behest?
Look closely and you can see that she is making eye contact—but windows are the eyes to the soul, and Amber doesn't want us to see into hers. Her choice of accessory shows just how much she's committed to shade.
Amber's shoulder is in front of Kim's shoulder. Usually, our eyes are drawn to whatever is in the foreground of a photo—we interpret it as the most important part. But Amber is angled toward Kim, relinquishing some of her power and physical space—allowing for a shared frame. In fact, we see more of Kim's body than we do of Amber's. If Amber's shoulders had been square and straight, her body language could have been construed as aggressive; she'd be blocking Kim and hogging the gaze of the lens. Instead, her torso is angled towards Kim's, which shows affection. In addition, since Kim is the passive party here—sitting relatively straightforward as Amber takes the shot and angles toward her—the effect is that we see Kim as the subject of the photo. It's really all about her.
The chin angles here are of note because Amber and Kim are mirroring each other. Mirroring—the subconscious replication of another person's nonverbal signals—is a way to build a connection. They are literally aligning themselves. In this case, the ladies are also giving the perfect three-quarter face. It's optimal for selfies—more flattering than a profile or a full-face shot.
Amber's exaggerated lips are pursed in a playful kiss—or is it a modified pout? We often pout when we're guilty, or when we want to say something but are holding it in. Amber's words are being blocked by the tension in her mouth. Just read that red lipstick as a stop sign.
Kim's making direct and defiant eye contact with the lens. Oh she's a pro, we know that—she wrote an entire book about it—but this look is especially penetrating. She's demanding attention. While Amber's busy—angling her body, puckering her lips, taking the photo—Kim is just ever so slightly leaning in, intensely focused, her eyes narrowed into a very deliberate stare. Narrowing your eyes is something you do when you're judging—whether it be distance, value, attractiveness. This is not a neutral look. This is the look of a woman who knows that her husband's album is about to drop. This is the look of a woman who's an expert at the "get everyone to write about me" game. This is the look that's been bestwoed upon you by the reigning royal of social media. All hail the queen.