I bet you thought that title was a witty pun about her ass, didn’t you? It’s not. I swear. You probably won’t believe that writing about Kim Kardashian the day after doing a post on Kanye West was a coincidence, but it really was. I’ve been really stewing in Kanye’s commentary on the music industry, a reflection of the entertainment industry at large, and I thought today would be as good a day as any to finally articulate some of my thoughts about Kim Kardashian. I’m no fan of Kardashian, but I like talking about her because there is so much sociopolitical content to be unpacked from her media personage. Bear with me.
I call this analysis one-sided because I am aware of my position as a young, black woman in processing Kardashian as a media product and image. This racial component is important because one of my central observations about Kim K is that she is marketed to black woman. Her look is that of the exotic “other,” which we love because we fall for all of the women of color who don’t have too much color. She’s beautiful. Her body is the centerpiece of her media image and much of her fame is credited to the booty behind her–one that is supposed to be found on the back of a black woman. Her consistent dating of young, wealthy, (and needless to say, sexy) black men has also put her on the map with young black men and women. Even her hairstyle has become a popular way of styling our weaves (and it looks bomb.com).
The idea of Kim Kardashian selling and promoting black womanhood is obviously more than a little bit fucked up. But I’m not sure if her success should be credited to her, or the black and brown folks that consume her. Either way, I find myself hyper-aware of this every time she comments on cooking soul food for Kanye West, is used to sell makeup for women of color, or when she reaches fame and becomes a household name after appearing in what was probably the most uneventful sex tape I’ve ever seen. Black women don’t get famous from stuff like that–just ask the scores of women who have been exploited on World Star Hip Hop.
But then in some weird twist, Kim Kardashian is still the woman of our slut-shaming dreams. Her dating life has driven her career, and her reputation. We hate her for making the sex tape with Ray J, for dating Reggie Bush, and for dating Kanye West before her divorce with Kris Humphries was finalized. She is idolized for being what all of us black girls should want to be, and the price she pays for it is the constant policing of her sexuality. So much race, sexuality, and gender performance tea being spilled here.
I’m interested in how coverage and dialogue about her recent pregnancy will be framed. I still can’t tell if we will like her more as the beautiful mother of Kanye’s children or his baby mama.