I don’t think people understand that when I say anything in defense of Kim Kardashian or her sisters, it’s that I’m also defending similar women, despite them not being as rich or living as glamorous a life. I hear and read the horrible things that are said about her and in the end it all leads me back to this one thought: We all make mistakes. Also, we can hold ourselves accountable for the kinds of people we celebrate.
I understand that hard-working artists are very upset that someone like Kim K. can be so famous for doing nothing. Well, it seems to me that Kim K. is in the business of being looked at and nothing much more profound than that, and it’s something that I don’t demean or criticize because I absolutely enjoy looking at her. I love that she looks completely different than the girls who stared back at me from my teen magazines when I was younger. Back then, I couldn’t relate to the gorgeous white or black women on the photo spreads because none of my own features seemed to match theirs.
Then a few years ago, Kim Kardashian became more and more of a familiar face (and butt) and she was being ogled and admired for the very things I used to be so ashamed of for having. Long dark hair, olive skin and curves? How often did we get to see pictures of women whose butts were so big you could see them from the front? This is an exciting time! We can openly celebrate women who range from super thin to super thick. We can probably even do it without so many euphemisms! Hell, I always call myself a fat girl because it feels so liberating! It used to be a thing I could never say before because how dare I bring attention to my own weight? How dare I make anyone feel awkward around me? It is what it is, “it” being that no matter how much we also want to celebrate intellectual pursuits, we can’t help but be visual creatures and what we see on the outside is what gets our attention first.
Unfortunately, how many fat jokes have you seen made against Khloe Kardashian? She’s way thinner than I am, yet I’ve seen men on Twitter call her a “fat whore.” Just like that. Not even one second taken to consider the tiny effort that goes into just being a gentleman and never using those words against any woman. It’s bad enough that women are unforgiving with each other, but now men (and yes, some women) take to the Internet and public forums to directly name-call and bully celebs without regard to who else may be reading.
I understand too that we’re expected to take jokes and play it cool. We’re supposed to just laugh whenever someone makes a fat joke on Adele and then look in the mirror and act like it doesn’t hurt. Not gonna happen, at least not from me. Someone I was dating made a fat joke on Twitter about her and I felt it wasn’t worth the laughs or the stupid stars you get if it meant my feelings were hurt. I’ve seen myself in the mirror and if I look like anyone, it’s more likely to be Adele than say, Taylor Swift.
So Kim might be considered famous for nothing, but she is celebrated anyway, and for that reason I try to ask that people think about why that happens in the first place. The attention doesn’t just manifest out of nowhere. Someone is buying the magazines. Someone is watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Someone is reporting on every aspect of what that family does and there is a portion of the public that is consuming that information on a daily basis.
My issue, in all of this, is that I’m tired of the cheap shots taken against her, especially by comedians who are proud of their own work yet still resort to such basic, worn out attempts at humor. Is the reservoir of slut jokes really that vast? Is it really so hilarious that she dates black men? Because I find that it also leads to an underlying joke that we ignore, as if black men are not as objectified as she is when in that context.
Sometimes I think that I am fascinated by her because of what she brings out in people. She’s not a scholar, obviously, and people take liberty in calling her stupid. She makes people so angry when they think about how she is “famous for nothing.”
My mom has many framed images of Marilyn Monroe up in her house. When I moved out, she got me one for my apartment. She has told me that when women have stopped by the furniture store where she works, they see the framed pictures of Monroe that are for sale and a lot of them immediately say, “Ugh, she was a slut.” Even after death a Hollywood starlet can’t escape the criticism. My mom responds to those comments by saying, “She may have been a slut, but she sure was nice to look at. She was charming, alluring, and people either wanted her or wanted to be her.” I feel that is what is happening with Kim. People hate her for having no talent. They hate her for being in the spotlight so much. I imagine Monroe dealt with as much hate as she did admiration from others. This is not to suggest that their talents are parallel in any way (if any exist). They are just icons of feminity, though they do not speak ultimately to a definition of what it means to be feminine.
We choose who we celebrate. We can celebrate appearance as we do with Kim and other women who are in the business of looking a certain kind of sexy. We can also choose to highlight women who are known for great and worthy achievements. There’s a whole column on this site dedicated to celebrating Women Working To Do Good. Can you imagine what would happen if those were the women we reblogged on Tumblr? If their actions were the ones we turned into .gif images for everyone to see? Hell, I am guilty of trying to bring attention to Hispanic celebs who garner their own slut shaming from other women. Even my efforts are in need of fine-tuning, apparently, and I could be making a stronger effort to turn that attention over to the women who stay well past 4pm in their classrooms grading essays. I should be sharing with you stories about single moms who have ignored their own interests for the sake of raising their kids safely.
Do you realize that with tiny but numerous efforts, we can control the messages we promote about who is worthy of celebration? I do, now, and I think that there is still hope for turning the attention away from beautiful women like Kim for a while and giving it to the long-ignored women who really need our praise and support.
Featured Image via Shutter Shock