Why I Don’t Keep Up With the Kardashians

Let me preface this article with the disclaimer that I have no judgment for all of you avid Kardashian fans but rather am intrigued and awestruck by the phenomenon that you ascribe to.

Throughout my time in secondary school, the Kardashians began to gain traction and publicity. Initially, they were a periphery craze that I assumed to be a passing phase in the same way that we enjoyed Gangnam Style or chokers. But their appeal kept growing. Gradually, almost all my friends bought into the hype, with Kendall Jenner’s latest Instagram posts blowing up our group chat.

Still, I remained nonplussed. I really did try to understand the hype, allowing my friends to show me countless episodes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians and redundantly attempt to explain the craze to me. Yet I still could not fathom their large appeal. Except for perhaps some life escapism or a bit or light relief, they seemed to be utterly unappealing to me.

That is not to say that I don’t respect the vast empire they have built. I’ve got to hand it to Kris Jenner, she certainly knows how to create and market an ideal. Starting as a relatively unknown family, they have built an impressive fanbase and mystique that has allowed them to become a real household name in a startlingly small period of time. They are all hand-grown business moguls and, with the platform they have been given, they have worked to build a veritable kingdom which I can’t knock.

Though I personally will not be purchasing any of the products that they sell, they do have overwhelming and impressive popularity among my age cohort. Kylie’s Lip Kits were all I heard about from all of my makeup-obsessed friends and the KKW beauty line dominates my Explore feed on Instagram.

The worrying part for me is the kinds of products they choose to endorse. Evidently, they have a remarkable platform through which they can influence a staggering amount of people. Yet they choose to use this space for perpetuating the pitfalls of the beauty industry that supports one form of ‘perfection’. All of their Instagram posts are perfectly cultivated and edited, making it impossible for any laywoman to reach their unattainable ideal. Where they could be using their fame to support worthwhile charitable causes, they instead promote damaging ideals. One only has to trawl through their recent posts to find endorsements for ‘flat tummy teas’ or teeth whitening products. This is irreparably damaging as it teaches young women that their self-worth comes from conforming to one perception of beauty and pressurises them to take surgical or cosmetic routes to change their appearances when they do not need to.

The Kardashians have also come under fire in the past for cultural appropriation. They have frequently adopted things from other cultures, such as a niqab or cornrows, without giving appropriate recognition to the culture from which this was ‘borrowed’. In 2018, cultural appropriation is something which is very much in the public consciousness and hence is utterly inexcusable behaviour. It promotes a hegemonic racist culture which does not accept the heritage of minorities and, honestly, they should know better than to do this.

Though it is easy to point the finger at the Kardashians themselves for their mistakes and the ideology they represent, it is also indicative of the priorities within our own society. As much as I hate it, it is undeniable that aesthetic posts promoting weight loss have more popularity than charity appeals. In the age of technology, we are undeniably selfish and often more concerned with real and online appearances than the welfare of others. So, can we really blame the Kardashians for playing into and exploiting a vacantly immoral society? I guess that is up to individual interpretation but it is indisputable that they perpetuate many of these ideas and could be doing far more to promote a more altruistic, moral lifestyle.

At this point, they have grown far beyond a famous family that we can enjoy and be entertained by. The Kardashian brand has grown into an entity of its own, something that is indicative of idealism and fame and something that comes along with certain assumptions and criticisms. This is why I do not envy them. They have become so prolific and omnipresent that they have been dehumanised to the point that it is almost legitimate to attack them, like the traumatic incident that befell Kim in Paris. In building such a large and successful empire, they have lost all sense of self and are now simply archetypes for people to observe from afar rather than resonate personally with, something which I feel is truly tragic.

So, why don’t I keep up with the Kardashians? At the end of the day, I don’t feel right supporting the proliferation of damaging, anti-feminist messages or unattainable ideals and, quite frankly, I think we should all give up on the Kardashian hype.