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Reality TV “Legacy” Coming To An End: “Keeping Up With The Kardashians”

On September 8, 2020 model and media personality star, Kim Kardashian-West, posted a goodbye post on her Instagram. With a photo attached of her family’s successful reality TV show, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” Kim announced that next season in 2021 of their hit show will be their 20th and final season. 

“Keeping Up with the Kardashians” first aired on October 14, 2007 and has had 19 successful seasons with over 200 episodes on the channel E! ever since. With the show’s success came an abundance of spin offs such as “Kourtney and Kim Take Miami” and “Khloé & Lamar.” Others would be “Rob & Chyna” and “Life of Kylie” with other spin offs surrounding the lives of the Kardashians and Jenners. 

 “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” is one of the few successful and longest-running reality shows to ever be on TV. Before the show began, the second oldest Kardashian, Kim Kardashian-West, made headlines due to her sex tape created with singer and actor, Ray J. Months later, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” aired with high ratings. The show gathers negative and positive reviews — with the positive being viewers feeling entertained and admiring the Kardashians and Jenner’s “hustle.” When fans say “hustle,” they mean the multiple business ventures the Kardashians and Jenners are a part of. The fact that they have been able to make a dynasty, without much talent. While the negative reviews are more so criticizing the Kardashian’s image and putting a fantasy in teenagers or young adults’ heads. This can be seen through the many body-image issues the Kardashians have inspired, despite most of them having undergone surgery to achieve this ideal.  To some, the Kardashians are “culture vultures” that utilize cultures without exactly understanding them, specifically Black culture. To add on, they have been bashed for their bullying and stealing tactics that were shown on the show and created controversy.

 A constant controversy the Kardashians face is viewers labeling them as “culture vultures.” Last year Kim Kardashian was releasing a “shapewear” line that helps women shape their body under their clothing to achieve a curvier look. She was originally going to name it “Kimono,” due to her combining two of her brand names together creating the word. After releasing the announcement of her new brand, Kim faced backlash — and rightfully so. In Japan, the kimono is a form of clothing that holds a significant tradition that the Japanese have been honoring for years. This situation was aired on the show and showed Kim’s journey to understand ways in which she offended the Japanese culture and why her new line would be considered “cultural appropriation.” After research, Kim decided to change the name of her brand from “Kimono” to “Skims.” 

Another issue viewers have had with the Kardashians is the appropriation of braids in their hair. African American women have been judged, fired, or banned for years due to having these protective hairstyles. Even in the year of 2020, laws are still having to be emplaced to stop discrimination of hair that Black women face on the regular basis. At some schools, boys and girls are suspended or expelled for having protective hairstyles that the school says go against their norms. Sometimes on the shows, the sisters are seen wearing protective hairstyles such as cornrows that Kylie Jenner called “boxer braids.” Kim Kardashian has also worn Fulani braids which she called “Bo Derek,” which is a whole controversy in itself. In general, the sisters have worn these hairstyles for years that many more often Black females consider culture appropriation. Many feel that the Kardashians and Jenners appropriate Black culture and don’t show appreciation or understand the struggles of Black culture, especially hair discrimination. 

The most recent controversy that aired on the show, and was the highest rated episode of season 16, was the two episodes covering Jordyn Woods, Kylie Jenner’s best friend, and Tristan Thompson, Khloe Kardashians boyfriend and baby daddy, cheating scandal. In February 2019, the Kardashians, Jordyn Woods, and Tristan Thompson were trending on all social media platforms. It was leaked that Woods and Thompson hooked up at Thompson’s after party in his rented Airbnb. When the story broke, Woods was immediately bashed and bullied online. People were even sending her death threats and telling her that her father deserved to die. It was so bad that her sister couldn’t go to school and her family was confined to their home. 

Growing up, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” was my favorite reality TV show, with Khloe being my favorite sister. I enjoyed the show because they were funny and sometimes airheaded when it first began. The reason I like Khloe is because she was the plus size one that stuck up for herself and was there for people. Even after Lamar Odom betrayed her, she was there for him, which I respected because she could have literally forgotten about him. 

As I grew up, I, like many viewers, respected and praised their hustle because not everyone can become millionaires without a traditional talent. They themselves have expressed that they have no talent, but entertain people and build off of that. Also, after a while I knew the Kardashians were not the face of good role models. When they post photos of their bodies and are considered “natural beauty” it can be extremely offensive. Almost all of the Kardashians and Jenners have had cosmetic surgery with lip fillers or surgery on their backside. 

When society and brands give them praise or revenue for doing something that females have worked hard to do, I have issues with that. When it comes to them appropriating Black culture, my only issue is that they try to rename the protective hairstyle and sometimes their captions are offensive. Such as when Kylie Jenner had her “boxer braids” and had a hashtag under it that said #WhiteGirlsDoItBetter. Black women already face scrutiny for wearing protective hairstyles and having a hashtag like that is deeply offensive and made me give her the side-eye. I believe you can wear any hairstyle you want, just don’t take credit for something that has been on this earth before you even came into existence. The media sometimes says the Kardashians and Jenners are setting a “trend” or “bringing a hairstyle back in style” though black women wear them every day.

With “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” ending, I can admit that the show has had a good run and has set a mark in history. With the end of this show I would like to see more reality TV shows showcasing natural beauty. While also empowering women instead of bullying and penning us against each other over men that are considered “players.”  

Imani Agbionu

George Mason University '21

Imani is a senior majoring in Marketing from Washington, DC where she has lived her whole life. Her mother is American and her father is Nigerian. During free time when she is not studying she likes to read ebooks from Amazon with her favorite author right now being Bethany Kris. She also enjoys talking to people about a variety of topics focusing on politics, movies, life, or other trending subjects. As you can see, she is an introvert so streaming platforms such as Netfilx, Disney+, and more are her best friends. She loves to write about different topics as well sometimes people might agree or disagree, but that is what conversation is for! That is why she is extremely ecstatic to write for Her Campus and can possibly make new friends and people that enjoy her writing.
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