Have you ever had your beliefs be inconsistent with your own…beliefs?
Recently I found myself involved in a discourse surrounding Kim Kardashian, famous for her body, visiting the White House to discuss a topic that seemed completely outside of the scope of her expertise (stop me if you’ve heard this one already).
How did I know that? Well, I didn’t. But as an observer and not as a close friend, I had access only to the information regarding who she was as a person, and what she wanted me to know about herself, that she chose to divulge. And her public image is very closely monitored and cultivated, so I have no doubt that I know exactly what she wants me to know, and nothing more.
A caricature/meme is in circulation (I won’t bother to share it) depicting the topic of her visit to the White House scrawled across her famous backside, the President focused intently on those words, presumably only because of where they were placed. The larger implication, I believe, is that her ability to draw attention to the subject was based solely on her body and his interest in it. It’s a nasty assumption, and a hateful one as well, even if there might be some truth to it. We don’t know for sure.
What we do know is that if the President meant to discuss the topic with the intention on making changes, there are myriad people who’ve been on the front line of that battle for decades that he could have called. Nope, I don’t get it. Yet and still, the drawing was crass, and it was argued that she was being overly sexualized.
Therein lay the problem, and the cause of my severe discomfort during this discourse.
I saw the meme, and I shrugged.
I didn’t actually believe that she was being overly sexualized in the caricature. I believed she was being, well…just the right amount of sexualized, if you will. I believe that she was being viewed completely in line with the narrative her brand had offered to date, her backside being a major facet of her brand, her image a commodity. And she’s a phenomenal businesswoman, mark my words. There is absolutely no shame in that.
I believed that the true fault lay in the fact that she was being underestimated because the narrative never fully included Kim Kardashian in totality. And maybe that was on purpose, to maintain her privacy. But the result was a disconnect between who she was believed to be until now, to include what she has to offer, and what people are willing to believe she had to offer of value on the topic to our President in this meeting. Hence, the cartoon drawing.
I’m hurt y’all. I’ve always railed against the fact that most women who attempt to do great things get reduced to a collection of body parts when we make people in the room uncomfortable. It’s a quick and easy way to make us smaller by addressing our “bits” instead of our “whole”. But here I was arguing that a woman who’d built her foundation on those bits and pieces, at least to the observers of her brand, should accept the crass humor as a result? After all, she told us who she was, and we believed her, right? Sweet Jesus.
I really had to sit with the realization that my beliefs on this matter didn’t line up neatly with my beliefs on a woman’s right to be multifaceted. Was she overly sexualized? Nah, I don’t think so. I’ve seen her nips on social media. The cartoon was pretty tame by comparison. Unnecessarily sexualized? Yes. For damn sure, yes. Whether our President invited her there with the true intention of staring at her butt or not, we can all assume that it’s not why she was there herself, and that cartoon implied that she was complicit in her sexualization.