The Kardashian family needs no introduction. They are seen across television, magazine covers, sides of buses, apps and every corner of social media. With a collective worth of around £350 million, are they as inspirational as they are wealthy? With Kim claiming to stand with feminism in her Instagram posts, Khloe fighting for “revenge bodies”, and Kris overlooking their every move, can the Kardashian clan be considered modern feminist icons?
The thought appeared after watching the promo for their latest series. Starting with ‘momager’ Kris gathering her daughters from their jobs., it oozed glamour, business and all things… well, Kardashian. As a concept, the family promotes ‘girl power’ as Kris manages her troops while the ‘girl bosses’ juggle families, fame and their own lip kits. I spoke to people on Twitter about the family.
Lucy, blogger at itsbethansblog.com, said that their iconic programme Keeping Up with the Kardashians “does motivate me to get up and work. Seeing them work so hard on their projects motivates me”. A coworker of mine agreed with this, and added that she feels they embody “female empowerment”.
“Is being a working woman in the west enough to challenge patriarchal difficulties that continue to live in the world?”
But is running a business and family really anything shocking nowadays? Is being a working woman in the west enough to challenge patriarchal difficulties that continue to live in the world? While there is still a pressure for women to balance both home and work, it is being done and has been done by so many women. My own mother raised me on her own as well as working full time – without the income and support that the Kardashians have.
So what is it that makes the Kardashians so ‘empowering’? The framing of their television appearances often touches on the concept of sisterhood, and drills the message of what happens when women get together; empires can be built. They are seen to have an idea and make it happen. Remember when a young Kendall announced she wanted to be a model? Years later she walks on the most prestigious runways., keeping her head held high while she faces dodgy adverts and headlines. Just like her sisters before her, she continues to do what she does. And none of this could have been built if it wasn’t for Kris Jenner. Her empire seems like it cannot be touched. She is one step ahead with her plans for world domination.
Emily (@seeemilyplay) admitted that she does “respect the empire they have built around them. Kris is clearly the master of dark arts or something. I don’t hate them, I don’t exactly love them either but I do find myself interested by them.” A whole empire has transferred from a TV show to makeup counters, clothing rails and apps with one after another spin-offs. As well as being a brand within each of their own rights.
“We have to ask; is what the Kardashians are selling problematic?”
When discussing feminism and the ‘Kardash Klan’, the word that kept being re-run as much as KUWTK was “problematic”. We have to ask, is what they are selling problematic? Their products and ‘brand’ come down to one thing: appearence. The makeup, clothing, revenge bodies – the Kardashians sell the idea that “you must change”. While makeup is an art form and clothing is used for expression; the context it is framed in can be seen as “shallow” and only of interest of the makers.
Kylie released her lip kits, with a free gift of bad customer service, after she had her lips done and a rise in lip fillers was reported. Clever business strategy, most likely from mastermind, Kris. Khloe’s revenge body was portrayed as a revenge from a break up. Something done not for her – but for her ex and other women to be jealous of. It drives the concept of competition and placing women against one another. Overall their focus on appearance could be considered as playing into the patriarchal idea that women are to be looked at.
While the women, on paper, sound like they have the ingredients to be feminist role models, it can be said that some of their methods are individualistic. Caroline (@carolinemariemd) added, “I guess they’re a force for good in that we can use them as examples sometimes, but they cause problems too… But generally, not sure they’re worth the harm to minorities and feminism”.
“Their impressive platform is not being utilised to include all women, not even raise issues of the treatment of women globally.”
Take Kim’s Instagram; preaching for feminism by posing nude-allegedly regaining control of her body from the press, even though she has posed for magazine herself many of times. Is this the new millennium ways of feminism? Some may argue that feminism should still be about women collectively; equality and fair treatment of men and women worldwide.
Their impressive platform is not being utilised to include all women, not even raise issues of the treatment of women globally. Instead, Kylie is seen utilising a wheelchair as a prop in a photo shoot. The word “problematic” flashes again. But with 99.3M followers on Instagram, 20 year old Kylie Jenner proves to be an inspiration to many as she has her own make-up brand, clothing line and tv spin off. Yet, the product she sells has also been said to have been problematic, leading to questions of plagiarism. And people still buy.
As Rebecca (@RBCA07 ) believes, “the basis of the Kardashian economy is attention.” Their success is built on the attention of the public. The viewers who tune in, who follow and buy buy buy. Their clever business tactics is something to be admired but rather than stand for feminism, the Kardashians look like they stand for consumerism, only exploiting the mainstream feminist movement.
Image via E! Now