‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ Beauty Standards: Championing All Bodies, While Fighting to Fit the Mold
Last month, when I received an email from Nordstrom that Khloe Kardashian would be co-launching an ‘all-inclusive’ denim line exclusively through the store — like many — I scoffed at the idea. To me it felt like another “Kardashian thing” to capitalize off of by one of America’s most powerful pop culture clans.
After all, from fit teas and lip kits to selfie cases and ‘Kimojis’ there’s few things that the family hasn’t been able to monetize in the past decade.
However, looking more closely at the campaign and line itself, I realized that its existence speaks volumes about our general beauty standards and the ways that we intersect the quest for physical perfection with being accepting of all body types.
Touted as a “new denim brand for all women” the Good American line carries jeans that range from sizes 0–24 without dividing the size 12 and over crowd into a separate ‘plus size’ category. The idea is novel, refreshing and necessary, but it also begs the question — how does one find the balance between fighting for acceptance of all bodies, while also doing everything in their power to be considered conventionally beautiful?
During the Good American launch event, Khloe told People.com:
“I used to be a girl that would walk into a boutique and they didn’t have my size of denim and I was really body shamed into being too overweight. I couldn’t fit into their denim. So I’m fighting for all the real girls and all the girls with hips and curves, yes!”
However, as Khloe’s drastic weight loss journey has been documented over the past year, it’s difficult to process the messaging behind a brand that says, “yasss big girls!” yet has a co-founder who has altered her appearance significantly so that she’s not one of them.
And make no mistake this isn’t a judgement call on Khloe — as I’ll reserve that for the jean prices, which could be a post of its own — because I’ve found myself in a similar kerfuffle. I’ve been ‘plus size’ for as long as I can remember and throughout my college years I admired plus-size bloggers like GabiFresh (who’s ironically a Good American model) and Chastity Garner Valentine, who made being larger and fashionable seem like an effortless feat.
However, over the past year, I’ve also lost more than 80 pounds — going from a size 20/22 to a 10/12 — and as much as I still admire and support the plus size community, I’ve found myself taking drastic steps to not be a part of it. I’m the smallest I’ve ever been as an adult and while I’m consistently on the sidelines cheering for the boldness of the Gabourey Sidibes of the world, I’m also beating myself up when I gain two pounds. It’s a journey of endless contradiction.
As much as I want to say that I’m an individual and reject conventional beauty standards, I still spend hours watching and trying YouTube makeup tutorials, love a good designer bag, work out to lose weight (instead of doing it for the love of it), and am a proud Lumee case owner. Essentially, I’m just as basic as Kardashian culture has taught me to be.
Therefore, the Good American question is one that I also pose to myself.
And the answer is: I really don’t know.