Whether voluntarily or involuntarily, we have all kept up with the Kardashians-Jenners at some point of time in our lives. The sisters are currently five of the twenty most-followed people on Instagram, and one can only imagine the vast amount of influence they have on people all over the world. However, it is how they exercise this influence that causes feminists to question their relationship with them. While I cannot dictate how the feminist in you should view them, here is a quick lay-down on the Kardashians-Jenner brand of feminism, and the good, bad and ugly of it.
The family is not just ‘famous for being famous’. Capitalising on your daughter’s sex tape and then creating a multitude of reality shows about your family, with one lasting for as long as 16 seasons (and counting) is no small feat. ‘Momager’ Kris Jenner had no qualms and ‘log kya kahenge?’ issues when it came to shooting her family to fame, and Kim Kardashian became an overnight sensation due to the sex-tape and the reality show, instead of just being known as Paris Hilton’s friend and stylist.
The Kar-Jenners also prove all the naysayers wrong by balancing motherhood and their wide array of business projects which they handle effortlessly (and with major assistance from nannies). In an age when women face an extreme dearth of suitable jobs once they become mothers, Kris Jenner has made sure she helps her daughters consistently, creating new opportunities for themselves.
The family is not just ‘famous for being famous’. Capitalising on your daughter’s sex tape and then creating a multitude of reality shows about your family, with one lasting for as long as 16 seasons (and counting) is no small feat.
The Kardashian-Jenners have continually engaged in racial appropriation, with little or no regard to the sentiments of the historically oppressed communities or their criticism of such behaviour. In the name of fashion, there have been multiple instances where Kylie and Kim have donned cornrows (an African-American style of hair braiding), while Khloe wore a tone-deaf afro, which she called a ‘Diana Ross inspired hairdo’. Though the community has had to face lack of employment options, and/or termination of jobs, or being considered as being ‘gang members’ simply because of their cornrows and dreadlocks, many privileged folks such as the sisters have gotten away with using it as an accessory, without actually having faced any oppression because of her appearance.
Kim has often also been called out for her regular and blatant use of blackface to market her makeup products and Keeping Up With The Kardashians or KUWTK, which she constantly passes off as ‘contouring’, and a ‘moody vibe’. By dismissing the backlash against her, as ‘internet being toxic’ or ‘people waiting for you to make a mistake’, she yet again downplays the struggles African-Americans have faced for eons. Blackface is not ‘artistic liberty’, instead it is simply distasteful and almost pimping an entire culture.
A more recent example can be seen with her shapewear line, previously named Kimono. A large chunk of the social media community called out this blatant appropriation of Japanese culture that completely disregards the traditional significance of the outfit, through the hashtag #KimOhNo. Khloe as well has done her stint at the Kar-Jenner institution of racial appropriation through her misplaced sense of what constitutes responsible fashion, by donning a Native American headgear to Coachella, as her #OOTD.
While the Kar-Jenners are thought to have reclaimed the agency of the female body by ‘embracing their curves’ and not fitting themselves into the entertainment industry’s predominantly skinny silhouettes, they seem to have done more harm than good. Actress Jameela Jamil calls the sisters ‘double agents of the patriarchy’, saying “it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing … just because you look like a woman, we trust you and think you’re on our side but … you’re selling us self-consciousness.”
While it is irresponsible to not hold the brand accountable over its questionable popularity on Instagram, holding its ambassadors responsible for their actions is not entirely misdirected.
Call it a ‘detox tea’, ‘meal replacement’ or ‘appetite suppressant’, for long, Flat Tummy Co. has found a loyal marketing haven in the Kardashian clan. For instance, their appetite suppressant lollipops are plastered in pink on billboards all over the Times Square in New York City. With a misplaced sense of badass-ery, the poster shows a girl sucking on a lollipop, telling her cravings to ‘suck it’. To make matters worse and aggravate the already grim numbers of eating disorders and body dysmorphia-related cases in teenagers and adults alike, the brand enlisted the services of arguably some of the most socially-irresponsible and reckless celebrities the world has to offer. The 35 calorie-worth lollipop in question is nothing but flavoured cane sugar with a saffron extract that is meant to tone down hunger.
Also read: The Triumphs And Nuances Of Actress Jameela Jamil’s Body-Positivity Activism
While it is irresponsible to not hold the brand accountable over its questionable popularity on Instagram, holding its ambassadors responsible for their actions is not entirely misdirected. Kim, Kylie, Kourtney, as well as Kris have endorsed Flat Tummy Co. products to their millions of Instagram followers, but it is Khloe’s endorsement that hurts the most.
In the past, she has been quite open about her body image issues and innumerable comparisons with her sisters—always being known as ‘the fat one’ of the lot. Though with time, she has made peace with her body and was comfortable in her own skin, the launch of Keeping Up With The Kardashians (KUWTK) brought her into the limelight, with the media mocking her body. To make matters worse, in a 2001 episode of KUWTK, Kris Jenner went as far as telling her, “You don’t care and it’s very, very upsetting to me because I’ve worked so hard at creating what I think is a great deal for you girls and you’re not pulling your end of the weight.”
Ultimately giving into Hollywood’s required size zeroes, she followed dairy and junk-free diet and replaced that with juices and fruits instead, which is what makes it even more disheartening to see Khloe promote both physically and mentally unhealthy practices of losing weight.
Also read: Can Bollywood Award Shows Be A Site For A Campaign Like Time’s Up?
So judge for yourselves, and form an opinion that does not reek of irresponsibility as much as most of the family’s social media does.
Featured Image Source: Hollywood Reporter