Oh, the Kardashians. Where do I start?
They’ve been causing drama and documenting their lives via social media and reality television for over a decade. And as long as their family has been entrenched in drama, the dialogue surrounding them has been divisive. You either love them or hate them.
There are two relatively consistent sides to this dialogue. Criticisms of the Kardashian-Jenner clan — they’re too self-obsessed, they’re not talented, they care too much about their looks — are invariably met with indignant defenses: “Let women do what they want! Stop attacking them for their decisions! You’re being sexist!”
This is a newly emerging pattern in pop culture. Someone voices a critique of a harmful misogynistic tendency of society — maybe it’s the makeup industry’s insidious conditioning of our minds or the grooming of young girls to look and act like adult women — and that valid critique will be immediately silenced on the grounds that the critic is actually a closet misogynist.
The problem is we’re evaluating this problem on an individual basis when, in reality, it’s a society-wide issue. Kim Kardashian’s 24-inch waist isn’t hurting anyone until you consider how the Kardashian family nearly single-handedly normalized waist-training and corset-wearing.
While we should absolutely be on the lookout for “girl-on-girl hate” — the social training of young women to dislike and compete with each other — a criticism of anybody who identifies as a woman is not automatically sexist.
Yes, women are generally over-scrutinized and morally policed, but that doesn’t excuse the value of their actions.
The Kardashian-Jenner clan’s insistence on unrealistic appearance standards, widely publicized on social media and in the docuseries about their lives, trickle their way down to the impressionable pre-teen and teenage girls who consume their media. Kylie Jenner recently made her first billion dollars, and yet she’s still on Instagram promoting detox teas to her young audience and pretending the drink is the reason she’s lost her “tummy bloat.”
Just weeks prior, Kim Kardashian posted a video in which her sister Khloe fawningly called her waist “anorexic” and told her “you look so skinny, you look like you haven’t been eating!” to an audience of 141 million Instagram followers. Coming from a woman who preaches the importance of body positivity, doesn’t this seem a bit hypocritical?
Celebrities know better than anyone their actions have far-reaching consequences. That’s why product placement on Kylie Jenner’s Instagram page sells for a whopping $1 million per post. Nothing sells like a first name that starts with "K."
With a cumulative family net worth of billions of dollars, why do the Kardashians and Jenners insist on profiting off the insecurities of young women? The Kardashians are a number of things, but unintelligent is not one of them. They’re very savvy businesswomen. They know what they’re doing.
Calling these actions out for what they are — harmful, toxic, even dangerous — is not misogynistic. Yes, the popular narratives about famous women are almost always riddled with slut-shaming and thinly-veiled misogyny, but critiquing a woman for the impact she chooses to have on other women is not sexist.
Let’s not be afraid to critique the idols we put on pedestals. Wealthy women selling and profiting off an unachievable body type are not the people who need your protection.
Meredith Shaheed is a Junior from Lawrence majoring in political science, history and environmental studies.