Friday, July 26, 2019

Order in the Court: Kim K & The Greater Good


On June 25, Kim Kardashian West released her shapewear line "Kimono," officially launching a passion project of hers that she says has been 15 years in the making. Kim named her skin-tight, nude lingerie pieces -- the antithesis of the kimono's function and purpose --- after the centuries-old Japanese garment. Additionally, she was vying to trademark the term, effectively allowing Mrs. Kardashian West to once again appropriate and profit off of a culture that is not her own and reinforce white gatekeeping in the fashion industry.

Lest we forget, she is doing this all while completing a four-year law apprenticeship under the direction of Erin Haney...in order to learn...how to advocate...for marginalized individuals.

According to The Fashion Law, the mayor of Kyoto, Japan wrote a letter to Kim K asking her to rename her product, and it worked. However, as I scrolled down my Twitter feed, my attention was brought to yet another company post from KKW Beauty. This time, it was an advertisement for her new body collection, where an ethnically ambiguous model can be seen applying generous amounts of a body foundation to their skin. Although the replies were funny, the laughter was short-lived as I thought about all of the other things that could possibly go wrong.

Blackfishing, the phenomenon in which non-Black women (typically white women) cosplay and/or emulate Black features, is an immediate concern. This issue goes much deeper than surface-level self-tanning lotion, literally and figuratively. The KKW body foundation is much more viscous, similar to that of what I'd put on my face, with 7 ranges from fair to deep dark. While many cited that this could serve as a breakthrough product for women with psoriasis, vitiligo, and other skin pigmentation diseases, there seemed to be a lack of questions posed about the message Kim is sending out. The primary one being, what do we as a society benefit from this?

Under the guise of showing that people are capable of change, that not all celebrities are entitled, or whatever may have inspired this new chapter of Kim K's life, she enrolled in law school, setting social media ablaze and instilling a redemptive and forgiving spirit in the hearts of many. Some Black men were even caping for her, saying that she was doing better than organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement after having successfully met with Donald Trump and worked towards granting Cyntoia Brown clemency.

However, going to law school does not negate all that she has done wrong, continues to do wrong, or will do wrong.

It does not negate the fact that Kim Kardashian and her family treat Black individuals in their social circles like accessories, replacing them after every "misstep" as we have seen from the Jordyn Woods debacle. It does not negate the fact that the Kardashians are patriarchy princesses, pushing products and creating publicity narratives to feed off the insecurities of women instead of holding the men in their lives accountable. It does not negate the fact that the Kardashians continue to disrespect almost every racial group, especially Black women, while simultaneously trying to “be black”.

Kim can go to law school. Kim can get another surgery. Kim can make another tape. But how do those things, whether it's her whiteness and fame profiting of the tireless work of Black activists or bashing Black women to make a buck, contribute to the greater good? Kim is selling products the expense of these marginalized groups she is ostensibly learning how to defend -- and her cultural tone-deafness persists. Is it possible that we can start buying more from minority-owned businesses and support actual pioneers? Is it possible that we can live in a world where skin diseases are normalized and people don't feel the need to cover up their authentic selves? The answer lies with you, the consumer.