Kim Kardashian West isn’t just a pretty face or spectacular ass. This woman spun the 2006 sextape with Ray J into a multi-million dollar media empire. Now married to Kanye West, the two are reportedly worth a combined $155,000,000 US.
Kim Kardashian West has over 94 million Twitter followers, seven perfumes, two clothing lines, and eleven seasons of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Am I impressed? You bet your ass I am. When my editor asked me to cover Kim for her appearance at the Commonwealth Club, I jumped at the chance. To top things off, she was being interviewed by justice-seeking, feminist warrior and general bad ass, Judge LaDoris Cordell, whose work has been tremendously important to California. While one might laugh at the juxtaposition of the two figures, I was curious as to what the Commonwealth Club had up their sleeves.
When I walked in, I found a swag bag with two copies of “Selfish,” Kim Kardashian’s book of selfies , which I thought was a smart marketing ploy. (Keep reading to find out how you can win a copy from Wear Your Voice!) I learned some interesting things about KKW. Her first business deal was inspired by Jennifer Lopez’s Timberland-Manolo stilettos featured in the “Jenny From The Block” music video. She found out that a local department store had a shipment of seven come in at $750 per pair. She immediately contacted her father with a business proposition to buy all seven pairs and that she would pay him back within a year with interest. He agreed, put them all on his credit card, and signed the contract. She then sold all of them at $2,400 a pair. Not bad for a teenager! However, with a brilliant celebrity lawyer raising you, as well as their financial backing, I’m sure a lot of teens could do something similar.
She continued to describe other anecdotes that were so heavily influenced by extreme wealth and privilege that I began to squirm a bit in my seat. These “I’m Just Like You, But Richer” stories did not ring true in any way. When asked if the media objectifies women, she said yes, but that women also do it themselves. “You can take that power to put what you want out there and choose how you portray yourself,” she said, continuing to explain that there is power and control in personal objectification. Judge that as you may, I agree with that statement. As a mature woman, I think it is absolutely within your realm of power to take the reins to do this for yourself, especially if you live your life in the public eye. However, I had adopted that attitude as a teen recovering from sexual abuse at the hands of a peer. I chose to be objectified and continued to put myself in situations in which I felt I was in control of my objectification and use as a sexual object, only I was not. Am I projecting my experience onto her statement? Absolutely, but I worry that other young women will take this to heart and abuse themselves in similar ways. Does this border on hypocrisy, as I support adult sex workers? Perhaps, but there is a difference between an adult woman making these choices and a disenfranchised teen hearing this as a suggestion to seek acceptance in the form of sexual attention from men.
I did appreciate her candid attitude toward body acceptance. I was actually a bit surprised by that and it made me appreciate her more. She described developing quickly and steadily prior to her sisters and peers. Before J.Lo and Salma Hayek emerged as mainstream beauties, she did not see curves represented in the media. Kim is a mere three years older than I, so I recall the straight figures of the 90s – women like Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen, Tyra Banks, and Cindy Crawford. Not all of these women were without ample breasts, but they still had minimal hips and ass at the time, promoting the very narrow, western Eurocentric beauty ideal that is still pervasive in media. At a diminutive five feet two and a half inches tall, it is hard to see yourself in any of that. Kim spoke of crying in the bathtub as an adolescent, praying that her body would stop developing. Even with millions of women now contouring their faces and gluing on lashes to look more like her, she still wears Spanx daily – pregnancy Spanx, at that – to smooth out her cellulite.
[RELATED POST: Bruce Jenner: “I’m a Woman”]
As she spoke, I felt a tug of war between my emotions regarding her. However, when asked if she was a feminist, she said “I do what makes me comfortable and never say what I am doing is the right thing. I love to support women in business and in life, but I do not like to label myself.” She continued by saying, “I guess you could call me that,” which is simply insufficient. It’s unfair to benefit from the love and support of other women while eschewing the title in order to placate the misogynists and male rights advocates out there that you still want to buy into you as a sex symbol. The old saying “If you don’t stand for what is right, you will fall for anything” is absolutely applicable here. Judge LaDoris Cordell read a tweet from the audience asking Kim K how to deal with sexism in the workplace, to which she suggested you just have to work really hard to overcome it and prove yourself. Thankfully, Judge Cordell could not let a legal question slip by without giving some form of advice to which she firmly suggested “LAWYER UP!”
Kim – are you kidding me? I recognize that you come from a background of privilege and that you mean to do well, but you can’t just glaze over something like this. You have young people looking up to you. When you chose to make yourself a social media figure and a mother, you took this on. Please take the time to educate yourself on this issue, as not everyone comes from a family with a lot of money, legal knowledge, and social prowess. I met so many wonderful, impressionable young women in line waiting to see you who defend you and identify you as a role model. Please take this a bit more seriously. Please do not shrug off the label of “feminist” with the excuse of not liking labels. You clearly have not shied away from “entrepreneur” or “social media mogul.”
Until you take the responsibility of being an ambassador to these young women by proudly wearing the label of feminists, you are just another problematic favorite of mine that has become simply too problematic to remain a favorite.
We have three copies of the Kim K book, “Selfish,” to give away! To win it, please post a selfie and tag both #wearyourvoicemag and #wearyourvoicebeauty to your post on Instagram. We will choose the winners by July 15th! Keep your eyes on your Instagram DM’s, as we will contact you there!
Featured image credit: Flickr user Ashley Cooper via Creative Commons