Let me just say, up front, that I’m not a fan of Kim K or the Kardashian Klan. I don’t follow them, I don’t watch the show, I don’t use Instagram or Snapchat. I see stories about her and the family that pop up in my Facebook feed and I usually just absorb the headline and then cruise right on. There are cute puppy and kitten videos for me to watch that are way more important than what Kim wore to the [insert event here] while rocking [insert hair color here] and those amazing [insert designer/shoes here].
Yet, the other day, as I was waiting in line for something, I was scrolling through my feed and there was yet another headline about Kim K. This one was titled, “What is Kim K’s New Year’s Resolution?” And, I found myself clicking on the article to find out what it was (to spend less time on her phone and be more present in the New Year, if you were wondering). I immediately was disgusted with myself for even clicking the article and it got me to thinking: why is what Kim K’s New Year’s Resolution is important to us? Why do we even care about Kim and her klan? Why are they famous?
I had a discussion with my friend about Kim and why she was important. We spent a long time trying to think of anything positive or meaningful that Kim gives to society. It was honestly hard for us to think of anything that she gives to society, but I had an idea that I shared with my friend. They seemed unconvinced; but, I’m going to present it to you, dear reader, and see what you think. To start this argument, I need to start with a quote from Emma Watson:
[in speaking about her advocacy work] “We want to empower women to do exactly what they want, to be true to themselves, to have the opportunities to develop. Women should feel free. There is no typical feminist, there is nothing anywhere that says you have to meet a certain [set of] criteria,” (Mary Sollosi, Entertainment Weekly, 1 March 2017).
This is how I define feminism. For me, feminism is the ability to be who you are, unapologetically, while using your voice, power and privilege, to advance those that do not have the voice, power or privilege to bring light to their plight or their social truths. Now, let’s be real, Kim K. doesn’t really do the advocacy part – not loudly, at any rate. When I googled “Kim K advocacy,” here’s what came up:
Maybe you notice, like I do, that there are four article there, and one is from 2008. In other words, Kim K, hasn’t made her politics a thing and hasn’t used her voice effectively (in my opinion) to help to raise visibility on social justice issues that could benefit from her voice. In fact, the fifth article on there (not featured in the pic) was titled “Thanks to Kim Kardasian’s advocacy, ‘see through’ is the new black,” from the Sydney Morning Herald out of Australia discussing how Kim K made sheer clothing the new “must have.”
But, politics aside, why would I consider Kim K at least a partial feminist? Because she is unapologetically who she is and she has used herself to make millions. There’s a reason I’m going to graduate school to be a social worker – I can’t market myself on the scope and scale that Kim K has managed to. And I have to give her props for that – and that is why she is important:
She sells the American dream. Kim K, and other reality stars, have shown that a cult of personality can get you far in the world. That by believing in yourself and having a dream (and marketing it well), that means you can make it. Kim K sells herself and convinces thousands of others that they can be like her if they use a waist trainer like her, if they eat like her, work out like her, buy clothes like hers that they, too, could also be famous and beautiful, marry a star and be millionaires. She convinces us to purchase the things she does to try to be like her.
Now, you may be thinking that there are millions of YouTubers out there trying to do the same thing and I don’t discount that. Some are controversial (the Logan brothers and PewdePie among them) that have monetized their inane and disgusting content (see here for the latest controversy surrounding Paul Logan) and have made millions. There are podcasters that have done the same thing, sometimes controversially and sometimes not. These folks all have figured out how to make money off of us folks (I, personally, donate to two podcasts) to create content that we enjoy. Kim K is no different, she just does it on a more high-profile scale.
She is vilified, hated, adored, followed, and feted. She is a wife and mother trying to balance her personal with her professional life, not unlike millions of other mothers and wives out there. Her product is herself, packaged and primed for retail. And, for that, I have to give her props – even as I hate myself for reading about her or writing about her. She is uniquely American – an international star famous for doing nothing more than being Kim Kardashian. That takes guts, a dream and a drive that many of us don’t have. Hate her or love her, I have a feeling that Kim K is here to stay.