Is Kim Kardashian a Feminist Role Model?


The short answer is: no. The long answer is: noooooooooooooooo. Kim Kardashian is not the “overlooked face of feminism,” but that isn’t stopping some from trying to make that argument.

I don’t know if Kim even considers herself a feminist, but if she did that would be totally fine—great, even. (Her talent, after all, is marketing, and with her social media prominence she’d kill it getting the word out on what’s happening right now to women’s access to contraception and safe abortions.) But that doesn’t seem to be what she’s interested in, which is also fine. Different strokes for different folks.

However, it’s one thing for someone to call herself a feminist, and totally different for someone else to anoint her the “overlooked face of feminism.” (It boggles my mind to think that anyone could ever consider Kim Kardashian’s face as being overlooked, no matter the context.) But that’s what Feminspire’s Suchi Sundaram did in a lengthy essay that likens the reality star’s ability to use her looks to build an empire to Helen of Troy and that they’re both feminists because they had/have a way to control men.

From her choice to publicize a sex scandal to her display as a sex symbol, she has exemplified the Gaultier corset. Her intellect, similar to Helen’s, is exemplified through the multitudes of endorsements and the success of her reality television show. Although we constantly disregard her intelligence and blame the American consumer society as reasons for her rise to fame, she does play a role in this scenario. She marketed herself to fit the needs of the consumer society…
…Without a doubt, Kim Kardashian and Helen of Troy have changed societal perceptions of what power is and what it means to the beholder. Helen saw it as her ability to entice the men of her life and Kim: the cameras that shined upon her. They used Gaultier’s concept as a modicum of feminism and invented a new ideal. By redefining the meaning of power, they are greying the the meaning of the word feminism. Rather than constraining themselves to the word, I believe they have truly liberated it.

Wait, hold on a sec. I have to wipe my brains off my keyboard because my head just exploded.

OK, I’m back. So, anyway, while I think it’s impressive that Kim Kardashian has managed to take a potentially humiliating incident for her family (the release of her sex tape) and turn it into a successful branding opportunity for herself and them, I don’t think there’s anything specifically feminist about her career trajectory.

Kim has used her windfall in the genetics lottery to establish herself as one of the sexiest, most desired women in the world. That’s fine. But by positioning herself that way there’s an implication that other women who don’t look like her are inferior. Perhaps it’s unfair to blame Kim for that. Except it’s not.

The fact of the matter is that nearly all of her endorsement deals and licensing projects have been based on commodifying women’s insecurities—the same insecurities to which she actively contributes. QuickTrim, those sneakers that are supposed to help you have a nice ass that turned out to be completely bogus, makeup, fragrances, skincare, etc. They’re all products that promise aesthetic perfection (literally). It’s almost unethical, like someone breaking your legs and then trying to sell you crutches.

Those narrow and often times impossible beauty standards play so hard into the patriarchy that it’s ludicrous to use them as an example of a feminist business model.

Kim K: Overlooked Face of Feminism? [Feminspire]

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