I went to a bar on the night of my birthday (legally!!!) and what began with Blue Moon and Jägerbombs became a heated discussion about the value of the Kardashians. So it goes.
Let me explain: my friend Charlotte had generously and heroically gifted me Kylie Lip Kits for my twenty-first birthday, one of which I was proudly wearing (Dolce K, obviously). I was gushing about it. My relatively new friend Nicole started talking about how we've bonded over the past couple weeks, and then she made this bold claim: "the only thing I see that's wrong about Callie is how much she loves the Kardashians." (Aw.)
Now, I don't expect everyone to harbor the same fervent and undying love that I have for our country's own royal family. With royalty comes controversy, and we all know the Kardashians have not been without scandal or insult: famous for no reason, devoid of talented, self-obsessed, ignorant, dumb, vapid—as this piece on the Odyssey claims, they "epitomize everything wrong with society"!!!
I have been riding the anti-Kardashian band wagon for quite some time now, and I wish everyone could see what I see. The vanity. The undeserving irony. The air of self-importance. I am here to tell you all the Kardashian's exemplify almost every social issue we face today, in every aspect of their lives.
That "air of self-importance" concept is pretty amusing in the context of this article.
Though similar think pieces (I'm using that term loosely) about the Kardshian clan's uselessness are all over the Internet, I chose the charming article linked above because it's written by a girl presumably close to my age, and we all know how I feel about the opinions of middle-aged white men.
Putting aside the fact that the Odyssey is essentially the millennial version of Fox News, I have a lot of problems with this piece. In many ways, it certainly is reflective of many common arguments made against Kim & Co., but I won't go into them too much. I'll only touch upon how I'm still waiting for people to stop shaming Kim for a sex tape she made privately and consensually with her committed boyfriend. And how ridiculous it is to suggest that once a woman has children she is no longer allowed to make choices about her own body or how it is displayed (as Fergie will gladly tell you). And how equally ridiculous it is to say Kanye married a "gold digger" when Kim made and continues to make her own millions, namely from her mobile endeavors/tech entrepreneurship, in which her leading role is well-documented.
I will barely even mention how hilarious this sentence about Kendall Jenner is: "Maybe trading in the lip plumper for a good book is a prolific idea." Firstly because prolific means "present in large numbers or quantities" and makes absolutely zero sense in this context, but more importantly because having an interest in makeup and being a well-read person are not mutually exclusive traits. (To the author of this piece: I'd like to recommend Internalized Misogyny 101 for your next book.)
No, I won't get into all of that (something I often find myself saying before opening my damn mouth again). What I really want to focus on is the obsessive vilification of Kylie Jenner. And not just because she's also a Leo and I feel a special kinship with her.
Unlike her older sisters, Kylie was essentially born into this khaos (lol). The same argument can be made for Kendall, but the budding supermodel receives noticeably less criticism than her younger sister—possibly because Kylie is the youngest member of the family and hating on teenage girls is fun. Kylie was just ten years old when Keeping Up With The Kardashians premiered in 2007.
This is notable for two reasons: one, as someone who grew up decidedly in the spotlight, Kylie has so far emerged remarkably unscathed. She graduated high school, she moved out of her mom's house, she is constantly surrounded by mostly non-famous friends, etc. In a culture that often sees child stars spiral downwards, this is an encouraging piece of evidence pointing towards both a positive upbringing and her general normality (take that, Kris haters).
Two, when Kylie Jenner turned 18 she was already close to millionaire status. Yeah, that annoys a lot of people. But the thing about that is that Kylie doesn't have to do anything more than exist. She easily could've just sat back on her unearned laurels, born into the roles of Western Culture Phenomenon and Social Media Princess, posting $50,000 Instagrams with minimal effort.
But she has also become a mini-mogul, and Kylie Cosmetics is honestly a marvel. It is downright inspiring. Sure, her makeup will arguably sell no matter what because of her fame and impeccable self-branding. But (coming from a Lip Kit enthusiast, as noted above) she puts her name on truly excellent quality products with reasonable prices—maybe I bought Dolce K because of Kylie's name, but I went back and bought Exposed because how much I loved the product itself. (People will no doubt dispute the amount of power she actually wields in the company, but this video of her learning to make her new eyeshadow kits is delightful, at least.)
The best thing about Kylie Cosmetics is that this tiny teenage genius turned her biggest insecurity, the closest thing she's ever gotten to a media "scandal," into her livelihood. One day she's somewhat sheepishly admitting to her lip fillers ("I don't want my fans to think they have to get lip fillers or look like me in any way. I wanted to let them know that it was always an insecurity of mine and I did it strictly for me.") and the next day she's building a damn empire.
Kylie herself may be a product of the social media generation and celebrity culture, and maybe it upsets people to watch her film herself on Snapchat as she sits shotgun in a Bentley. Maybe that's just because of pure jealousy, which I can understand to a point. Maybe it's just because for some reason, people are repelled and incensed by girls who are so comfortable in their own skin.
As Amelia Diamond writes for Man Repeller, "Her whole Snapchat is a study in feeling yourself. She's always about her makeup, her outfit, her hair, her stomach. Narcissistic admiration is obnoxious but it's also a very real self-esteem skill."
For me, seeing this 19-year-old girl, who is ruthlessly critiqued on a daily basis, love herself so unashamedly is heart-warming. I love watching her film selfie videos as she lip syncs to Drake. I love her freckle appreciation posts. I love seeing her be affectionate towards her own body as she sits by the pool.
This is not to say that Kylie doesn't experience camera fatigue or personal doubts. She has said that she doesn't always like wearing makeup, or being picked apart by the media. She has said that she is plagued by insecurities to this day. But that makes her even more endearing: say what you want about her lips and her family, but Kylie is a real person. She has an authenticity to her that comes with this kind of self-controlled overexposure. Whether she has 10 followers or 72 million, Kylie's really just out here trying to live and muddle her way through girlhood, adolescence, and impending adulthood. Just like me, and just like many of her other 71,999,999 followers. She has ambition and passion. She's no fame robot molded by a publicist (sorry, Taylor Swift. ily, but drop the PR martyr complex).
It doesn't matter to me that Kylie was born into a controversial family of wealth and fame. She had no control over that. But she does have control over her own individual legacy and how she makes her fans feel, and honestly, she's killin it.
I'm not here to try & encourage people/young girls to look like me or to think this is the way they should look. (Cont...)— Kylie Jenner (@KylieJenner) April 21, 2015
I want to encourage people/young girls like me to be YOURSELF & not be afraid to experiment w your look. ❤️❤️❤️— Kylie Jenner (@KylieJenner) April 21, 2015
All photos courtesy of Kylie Jenner's Instagram.