May 16, 2016

Taylor Carre-Riddell

I’ll admit this much: I’ve never watched an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

I’ve seen promos, images, read reviews, heard recaps- but I’ve never watched a full episode from start to finish. Mainly because the only way I’d be able to access it is by streaming it via a seedy website- and my mum, a self-confessed illegal stream-o-phobe, still controls my internet privileges…On a moral ground at least.

I know it’s strange. We all stream content off the internet, and risk the newly innovated anti-piracy laws if the show in question proves tantalising enough. Why shouldn’t KUWTK be included in this category? Isn’t bearing witness to the Kar-Jenner Empire a rite of passage for every millennial girl?

What takes the Kardashians from a family to an empire is not their media presence or their exceedingly lavish lifestyles – it’s their attitudes towards their lives that fascinates and engrosses me. The attitude, or rather, mentality that I speak of goes beyond treating things like Ferraris and Chanel handbags as though they are passé. But I dissect this mentality just a little.

FOR TV WEEK - DO NOT PURGE - E! Keeping up with the Kardashians. Pictured L-R, Kylie Jenner, Kendall Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian, Kris Jenner, Khloe Kardashian, Kim Kardashian

No doubt being able to act and uphold yourself in this way sends an almost ‘pheromone like’ message like to others that you live a life of certain status, prestige, accomplishment. In fact, I think this is many girls’ taste of what it means to be successful and gain social admiration along the way. To many young girls, the mentality of taking diamonds and Givenchy dresses in your stride is an empowering way of pronouncing to the world: I will let my success, that I have worked for on my own terms, shine through me.

It breaks the barrier girls face when owning their success. They no longer feel as though they have to justify, apologise for, define or limit their success according to what society feels comfortable with a woman, even a well-respected woman, achieving. Most of all, embracing and living up one’s success as the Kardashians do helps teach these girls not to seek permission or approval for the amount of or kind of success they can have. Be humble, yes; but bask in the spoils of your hard work, as you deserve it!

Before you ask, yes, I believe the Kardashians have worked for their success despite the “superficial” or “famous for being famous” criticism they are sometimes faced with. Kendall Jenner, the second youngest member of the Kardashian-Jenner family, has worked tirelessly from the age of 14 to become a supermodel, and at 20 walked the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Sure, she might have had some stellar contacts and connections, but she made her own portfolio, and achieved her lean physique by using (rigorous) and healthy means that catered to her energy needs, setting an example for younger fans. I could also go on about how Kylie Jenner wants to be a business woman and continue managing her cosmetics line. These ladies are in advantageous positions; but they work those positions to better themselves. We all have the capacity to do similar.

But now: onto the crux the of the attitudes of the Kardashians towards their million-dollar lifestyle, and what makes me want to keep tabs on them despite never watching their infamous show.

On  the surface, their mentality to bask in their hard earned treasures can set a good example for others to stand up and do the same. This is seen mostly in the show, I imagine: they arrange for private drivers and to purchase a 4th rose gold iPhone 7 before it’s even left Silicon Valley (ok, slight exaggeration on that last one- but hey, anything is possible!) But continuing on with that analogy, they get a yellow gold iPhone instead, and the drama ensues, the show ratings are maintained.

This is where the “superficial” stereotype stems from, I’m sure, and rightly so. These guys epitomise the meaning of what it is to overreact to a #veryfirstworldproblem. But again, their actions can remind us to fight-brutally, if need be, to get what we want. The circumstances and contexts between us and the Kardashians may vary a few… hundred thousand dollars, but the principle is still the same.

What intrigues me about the Kardashians is their want to appear vulnerable and human; a family that has reality TV show, not a TV show that talks about a real family. They strive to uphold this difference, and thus remain accessible to their fans.

Take the Kardashian’s Facebook posts, for example. For every perfectly executed selfie, interview set up or glam photoshoot promo shot, or red carpet snap, there is another photo of the Kim and her children with Kanye West. On my newsfeed, Khloe will often have an inspiration quote pertaining a piece of advice, humour, motivation. Of course, I can never truly know what the “marketing or ” of “publicity” purposes really are behind a funny quote or candid shot, but I do have a theory.

I think they, each Kardashian sister in particular, have their own golden ratio of glam selfie: inspirational quote because it helps remind fans that despite their fortunate lives, they still struggle on a basic level too. Break ups, changing bodies during pregnancy, rough schedules, family fights, awkward puberty phases…They go through it too.

I hear you saying: “yeah, I have an insane schedule too but I don’t have a nutritionist, personal trainer, chauffeur and a #personalglamsquad to help me get through it all!” And that’s true. But the point is that whilst they are being exactly humble at times, they do use their lifestyle to inspire women in particular to reach new heights and credit their style to those around them. A flowery quote isn’t going to change anything: but it indicates how the Kardashians want to define the difference between their lives being glamorous and their lives being perfect, and more importantly, which category their lives fall into.

–  Taylor Carre-Riddell

– Feature image courtesy of Flickr.

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