Keeping Up with the Kardashians Is Ending. But Their Exploitation of Black Women’s Aesthetics Continues

The inaugural episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, which debuted on E! in 2007, begins with an irreverent domestic scene. Kim Kardashian, the undisputed protagonist of the show, rummages through the fridge as she’s teased by her family for the size of her posterior.

“I think she’s got a little junk in her trunk,” says Kris Jenner, the family’s matriarch and “momager.” She calls her daughter’s butt “jiggly,” as Kim’s sister Khloé Kardashian chimes in from the kitchen table, “Kim’s always had an ass.”

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That the opener of the watershed reality show—which ends June 10 after 20 seasons—centered on the family’s fixation on Kim’s rear foreshadowed the now-ubiquitous public obsession with her body, and particularly that specific feature of it. This outsize fascination was perhaps best embodied by her controversial 2014 Paper magazine cover, shot by Jean-Paul Goude, where her bare bottom is flanked by the line, “Break the Internet Kim Kardashian.” On social media and in numerous think pieces, the cover drew comparisons to Saartjie Baartman, the 19th-century South African woman known as the “Hottentot Venus.”

In this problematic comparison lie the troubling roots of the obsession with the Kardashian aesthetic. Baartman was paraded semi-nude, her posterior exhibited as a curio of sorts for European audiences that could, for a price, touch her body—a sobering symbol of the exploitation and degradation that Black women and their bodies have suffered for centuries. By contrast, Kim has explicitly benefitted from her much-talked-about figure, tapping into an audience that sees her as no ordinary white woman, but instead as an exotic and interesting one.

Read More: Kim Kardashian’s Nude Photos and Saartjie’s Choice: History’s Problem with Fascinating Bodies

It’s a vicious culture that valorizes curves on wealthy, racially ambiguous white women, but stigmatizes these traits on …read more

Source:: Time – Entertainment


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