A Love Letter to Feminist Kim Kardashian
5 min read
by Kelsey Duchesne | February 10, 2016
In July 2015, Kim Kardashian West told Rolling Stone Magazine, “I think you would call me a feminist,” and the the era of will she/won’t she, at last, came to an end. In true Kim K fashion, her answer was slightly vague and almost taunting, because the woman knows that people like me will write articles like this. Well done, Kim, you win again.
Image by Eva Rinaldi Photography via Flickr
With no disrespect to Mrs. West, I don’t think, I know she is a feminist. I’ve been calling Kim Kardashian a feminist longer than she has identified as one, and have been receiving the same snooze-worthy responses since the early days of my declaration. Responses like:
“She’s famous for making a sex tape.” (Slut shaming, yikes.)
“What does she even do?” (Do you mean in fashion or in beauty or in television or in tech or…)
“She’s just a reality star.” (Do I really need to explain the KUWTK empire?)
I love the moments when I catch someone denying that Kim Kardashian is a feminist, business woman, or unworthy of celebrity. Kim Kardashian does not need me to defend her, but I enjoy the conversation because I can often get people to walk away with a fresh perspective. If you don’t believe that my Kim is a feminist/badass, perhaps I can persuade you:
KIM IS THE BOSS
She is a self-proclaimed perfectionist, the head bitch in charge, and the final say on every aspect of her brand. With her Momager and sisters by her side, Kim has cultivated a career built entirely on her public persona, and in 2016 she is more powerful than ever, with 59 million followers on Instagram and 40 million on Twitter. While creating a successful brand that falls across a diverse array of platforms, Kim is dedicated and focused on family. She is a wife, mother, sister, and friend, and is able to prioritize the people in her life and collaborate with them professionally. Kim is an executive producer of her reality show Keeping Up with the Kardashians (KUWTK)- a program about a family of women who are intensely focused on supporting one another, building their careers, and continue to cultivate success (rumor has it they are thinking about opening up a restaurant, and yes, I will fly to Calabasas to review). Kim Kardashian is constantly adding to and tailoring her business, and ultimately has the final say, because Kim is the boss- always.
KIM ISN’T AFRAID OF A CHALLENGE (AND DOESN’T GIVE THE HATERS A SECOND THOUGHT)
When Kim Kardashian decided that she wanted to create an app, she was met with expected skepticism. The tech world is male dominated and competitive, yet she forged ahead with the Kim Kardashian Hollywood game- a game that would make $43.4 million by the end of its first quarter. In July, Kim spoke at the Silicon Valley Re/Code conference, and expressed her anxiety and nerves on KUWTK. Kim gets nervous when she's outside of her comfort zone, but she doesn’t let her fears stop her from tackling new challenges and risks, and refuses to allow critics to alter her confidence. “Why do people not take you seriously?” Kara Swisher, an American tech columnist for The Wall Street Journal, asks the creator of one of the most successful apps of the year. (I’m sorry, what?) “The perfect first question. You know, I don’t know”, Kim replies smoothly, “I pride myself on my work ethic and work really hard.” Kara Swisher goes on to say, "The game. What did you do for them, besides lend your name?" Kim looks momentarily taken aback, and recovers almost instantly. “It wasn’t just that,” she says firmly. “ I must have spent weeks getting what I wanted all the clothing to look like, and the characters. They took such amazing direction on that.” Kim is patient, and if she's frustrated that she has to keep reminding everyone that she is the boss, she doesn’t let it show.
KIM LOVES HERSELF (AND THAT’S A V. IMPORTANT THING)
Kim Kardashian published a book titled Selfish in My 2015, a chronological review of her personal selfie photos from 2006 to 2014. The photos are accompanied by notes in a handwriting-style font, recalling the memories associated with the photo. Selfish was Kim's testament to the love she has for her body and how she connects with herself through camera. The book allowed Kim to control the messaging- she chose 300 photos out of 2,000. With Selfish, Kim ambitiously became the art director and the subject. Kim spoke about Selfish and self-objectification at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco. She revealed that she found selfies to be empowering, and that she did not see self objectification “as a bad thing.” Kim does not participate in sexy photo shoots because she feels pressured or forced, she does it because she is straight up feeling herself, and why is that a bad thing? Why is not okay to love the way you look and take pride in your appearance? Woman are so often told that they must be humble about their beauty; they need to be beautiful without knowing they are (cue every romantic comedy ever). So often, women need to find the delicate balance of being content with their looks and being utterly self deprecating. Kim Kardashian is not going to be humble. She’s not going to be quiet. She is not going to decide not to post a photo because she’s worried people will find her self-absorbed or over-indulgent. Kim is celebrating the female form. She’s caring for her body as it goes through transitions. In Selfish, Kim is celebrating her public metamorphosis from a socialite’s best friend (err…P.A.?) to the head of her cultural empire, and she is inviting you relive every moment, because every snapped moment made her the KKW we know and love today.
@kimkardashian via Instagram
KIM IS A WIFE.
Kim has never feared that she can’t “have it all,” and has ignored the tired and cliche notion all together. Kim married Kris Humphries in August 2011, after a highly publicized and whirlwind 30 day engagement. When Kim realized she could no longer make it work with Kris just barely after they had said I do, Kim vulnerably (and famously) cried in a dressing room full of cameras with her sister, Kourtney. Humphries had previously expressed that once he retired, he wanted the two of them to move to Minnesota, where she could stay at home and be a housewife. "How am I going to have my career and live in Minnesota?" Kim asks, to which Kris replies, "Baby, by the time you have kids, no one will probably care about you." Rather than trying to make it work with a man who doesn’t have faith in her career or potential, Kim files for divorce after 72 days of marriage. She survives the media storm who claim she married for money and attention. She falls in love with a longtime friend, they have a child, and the world waits intently for them to release her name. Kim becomes a mother, and the world cares about her more than they ever have before.
Kim marries Kanye West in May 2014, and their relationship is seriously #goals. Kanye supports Kim’s career and believes that she has created a whole new niche of entertainment through reality TV, and deserves a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame star (agreed). He believes that our Kimmy is one of the top 10 most beautiful women of all time, and credits her for being an incredible mother and business mogul. Kim and Kanye are both perfectionists in their craft, and help each other continue to build and reshape their careers. Kim finally found someone that doesn’t feel threatened by her career, ambitions, or success-- what is more ideal than that?
@kimkardashian via Instagram
KIM WANTS TO BE PREGNANT BUT TOTALLY HATES IT (AND THAT’S OKAY!)
In the latest season of KUWTK, viewers watch Kim exasperated and exhausted from her lengthy process of conceiving her second child, and the pregnancy itself she described as “uncomfortable” and “the worst experience of [her] life.” Pregnancy is so often said to the the most magical time in a woman's life, and Kim's honesty about her struggles was refreshing and admirable. Not every woman enjoys her pregnancy, and not every woman has to connect with her child through that experience. Kim was able to create a dialogue surrounding the expectations of pregnancy and how women are supposed to handle the nine-month process. Kourtney loved it, Kim did not, and both reactions are entirely okay.
@kimkardashian via Instagram
KIM IS A MOTHER.
Kim gave birth to North West in June 2013, and her son, Saint West, in December 2015. During her Commonwealth talk, Kim spoke about raising biracial children. Kim and her husband Kanye West plan to speak to their children at a young age about the societal challenges they will face, and want to create a dialogue, which is more important than ever. A year before her talk, Kim wrote a blog post about raising North and how best to prepare her for the future. “I feel a responsibility as a mother, a public figure, a human being, to do what I can to make sure that not only my child, but all children, don’t have to grow up in a world where they are judged by the color of their skin, or their gender, or their sexual orientation. I want my daughter growing up in a world where love for one another is the most important thing.”
**@kimkardashian via Instagram
KIM IS AN ALLY.
Kim was a quiet support system to Caitlyn Jenner 10 years before she made her transition. Kim found out about Caitlyn in her early 20’s, and did not push Caitlyn to talk about it until she was ready. Instead, Kim did her research, and watched shows like Oprah to learn more about the trans community. When Caitlyn came out in April 2015, she played the family mediator, support system, and therapist. As every Kardashian member handled Caitlyn’s transitions in different ways, Kim was vocal and open about her support for Caitlyn, and when she officially came out, Kim tweeted “Love is love.” On The Ellen Degeneres Show, Kim said “It's not really for us to judge. If that's how Caitlyn wants to live her life, then I support it, and I'm so happy for her and I'll try to do whatever I can to make it an easy transition for the other family members."
KIM IS A TEACHER.
Kim Kardashian West strides toward her car with her daughter, North, snug against her hip and holding her nephew Mason’s hand. As the paparazzi completely surround her, Kim sternly tells them to “Move away from my car.” “Yeah!” North shouts, echoing the firm tone of her mother.
Later, North will be walking with a nanny after ballet class and will have to walk past men 5x her size taking photos without her permission. “No pictures!” She will say this with complete confidence. North is two years old, yet already understands how she deserves to be treated. She knows how to say no. She's not afraid of the paparazzi and she will not smile for them. North will not fear the paparazzi, who are following her and her mother, trying to make money off a small moment in time. I have no doubt North West has learned to speak up from her mother (and yes, okay, her father).
TLDR; KIM IS A FEMINIST FORCE OF NATURE.
I hope there will be a day where this stops being surprising to people. I look forward to a day where intellectuals don’t scoff at her for being a guest on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, or college bros think twice about criticizing her for taking sexy pictures that were never meant for them. But as I said before, Kim Kardashian doesn’t need anyone to defend her, she’s just fine on her own. She has respect for herself. She knows she is smart and determined and can do anything she wants to do, if she works hard enough. And she knows, with complete confidence, that we will all await eagerly for whatever's up next.
-- Kelsey Duchesne is a THINX Content Creator and drops pop culture knowledge like this all day, err day.
by Kelsey Duchesne