The Kardashian family are well known reality-TV stars accustomed to controversy and life’s standard complications. From posing nude in Playboy magazine to running businesses and having babies, it’s hard to avoid their press releases or faces covering magazines while you’re standing in line at the grocery store. They’re on almost everything and it’s unavoidable.
With fame, comes infamy which is nothing the Kardashians are shy of. With their gigantic media exposure and influence, the family is well known to have critics or haters that tend to question why they deserve the attention. “What do they even do?” “They don’t have any talent,” or the ever so popular, “What kind of role models are these for young girls?” are the usual questions that arise from those who despise the Kardashian clan.
If you’re on the side of the fence against their media empire, I’m going to answer these questions for you from the view of a mixed girl (predominantly Italian and Spanish, the list goes on) from a small town in Northern California a.k.a. me.
At the cusp of puberty, I underwent the process that every human naturally goes through; the turbulence of hormones and the addition of new features to your body. For women, according to biology the metabolism of women tend to slow down during puberty causing weight gain in the adipose tissues of the breasts, hips and thighs (this is a fact, you should know this if you paid attention in sex ed) . This is natural. This is healthy.
However, during my youth, I was raised around people and a media who idolized thin bodies with bones that could ever so slightly graze beneath your epidermis. This can be healthy but this perpetuates diet fads, ideal body image, and can lead to harmful illnesses and diets. Be warned, I was one of those people.
Here is where the Kardashians enter the stage. In a small town where the populous was either “redneck or Indian” in the humble words of the locals, it was mostly thin girls or overweight as the majority. While I, according to biology and genetics, gained weight in areas that deemed me as “curvy” in a flattering way, in my town I was considered fat. Fat is not a bad thing. Fat is good. Everyone needs fat in their bodies. Even if you try to have zero percent body fat there will still be fat in your organs used for functionality. Again, fat is healthy for you if it’s not in excess. Moving on.
I hit puberty. My attributes grew as they should yet I despised them. The stereotypes of being promiscuous, trying too hard to impress guys, and overall a general disdain from those that looked at me came rushing in like guests at a surprise birthday party. So I secluded myself by staying home, reading often, and watching television. The images and media on the TV also perpetuated my desire to be skinny so I sat home, starved myself (200 calories every other day), ate diet pills and waited until I was comfortable enough to leave the house with bones showing. However, “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” popped up on my screen one day. This was the beginning of learning there are different types of beauty and bodies.
Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, Kendall, and Kylie were five sisters who set a beautiful standard of love regardless of looks. Over the years, each sister has made comments on body image. Khloe, the most scrutinized often said “I’m proud of my body” regardless of her fluctuating stature.
She and Kim, the curvy and gorgeous epicenter of the show, acknowledged their bodies without shame. I was shocked. I googled Kim’s measurements and we had been the same size, yet I was the only one ashamed. I thought she looked amazing but I thought I didn’t. This didn’t make sense to me. Until I learned it was my own psychology and my environmental factors.
Meanwhile Kim Kardashian immediately became the media’s succulent peach that everyone wanted to see and eat for their own exposure. She had a sex tape which most attribute for her fame. This is often the reason for her being scrutinized. A woman, not the first woman known or seen to have sex, was scrutinized for that and will be for the remainder of her career.
Parents of young and impressionable girls often comment their opinions of “What kind of role model is that?” or “Why is she important?” or “She should be ashamed for promoting public nudity.”
And to that I respond, Kim is as important as Marilyn Monroe with her empire based around sexual tension. She set a standard that allows women to accept their body regardless of their fluctuating sizes, be vocal about who they are and what they want; sexually or non-sexually, and to be one of the female trailblazers that aren’t ashamed of the human body and what it’s capable of doing. She’s inspired young women, mothers, and myself to be healthy, take care of themselves, and love the body they have.
In accordance to that, her life is public. She is filmed and photographed more often than any person in the world. Her being nude isn’t a secret. Google’s algorithms can easily hit a few letters and respond with results pertaining to her photo shoots. With such simple access to see images that aren’t secret she shouldn’t be ashamed for publicly showing what all women have- a human body with reproductive parts.
Lastly, Kim Kardashian as a role model sounds like an oxymoron to the common ear yet the public chooses to see her in only one light. As Kim says, “I love when people underestimate me and then become pleasantly surprised.” To follow her words, she shows her versatile character with multiple endeavors and businesses before and after fame. Yet she is often limited to the viewership of just her body.
Kim Kardashian and the family alike are role models if you look in hindsight; she took a controversial incident (her sex tape) and wanted others to see her for who she was, not just a pseudo-porn star. This helped launch the program, “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” and allowed the public to see her as the regular young woman she is. From an Armenian background, the family over the years have been vocal about who they are and what they want. From faulty photo-shoots, claims about their past and intentions, to being successful business owners, Kim and her family were able to take an unfortunate incident and turn it into an opportunity to show others and grow from their mistakes.
The Kardashians are proof you can’t underestimate the power of the media. They are the most covered and controversial family in the history of celebrity culture which forces them to be under the shadow of doubt and speculation. And yet they have proven to be trailblazing women that led others, such as myself, on the path to positive body image representation thus making them role models, regardless of their personal lives.