In an Instagram post published last Tuesday, Kim Kardashian West announced the imminent end of Keeping Up With the Kardashians after 20 seasons and thanked fans for their support, writing “This show made us who we are and I will be forever in debt to everyone who played a role in shaping our careers and changing our lives forever.”
The comments under her post were filled with broken-heart or crying-face emojis from fellow celebrities and fans alike. From someone who grew up watching KUWTK and can still tell you about the drama between Kourtney and Scott or about the family’s relationship with Caitlyn Jenner, I’d be more likely to use the star-struck or heart-eyes emojis to describe my feelings about this show finally -- and mercifully -- ending.
My friends and I grew up with the Kardashians on E! Network every Sunday, on the front pages of our celebrity magazines in the checkout lines at the grocery stores and on our Instagram feeds seemingly every waking moment. My concern with KUWTK lies in the fact that the show -- to take Kardashian’s words from her Instagram announcement -- also “made us who we are” and “played a role in shaping” our lives: they’ve warped the health and beauty standard for our generation irreparably.
Seeing the Kardashians so frequently, on their show or on various social media platforms, is detrimental to millions of people’s self-esteem and body image. On their show, the family were never seen eating anything other than salad. On Instagram, they post edited pictures that are FaceTuned to the point of unrecognizability. On IG stories, they’d upload interactions such as one in 2018, where Kendall told Kim “No, I'm really concerned, I don't think you're eating. Like, you look so skinny” and Kim exclaimed in response, “What?! Oh my God, thank you!” Khloe Kardashian then added, “I've never seen a human being look as good. You are a walking FaceTune, doll.”
These types of conversations, which glamorize eating disorders in the name of beauty standards, are being broadcast to Kim’s 188 million Instagram followers, and a significant portion of those are young adult women like me. The brands the Kardashians partner with, in sponsored Instagram posts or stories, are just as alarming. In May 2018, Kim posted a sponsorship with Flat Tummy Co, a diet brand that all of the Kardashian women frequently promote. In the Instagram picture, she was sucking one of Flat Tummy Co’s appetite-suppressant lollipops, and her caption was as follows: “You guys... @flattummyco just dropped a new product. They're Appetite Suppressant Lollipops and they're literally unreal.”
This type of content is something I am so sick of seeing, and with my younger sister having just turned 11, I hope to protect her from it as much as possible. This will be easier now that the Kardashians will finally be off of our TV screens. I have hope that with the end of the show, their influence on social media will begin to wane as well. At the very least, I’m looking forward to the time I won’t have to see their edited pictures splashed across magazines when I’m just trying to get my groceries.