Kardashian Culture Vultures


Illustration by Cat Burch

Rina Cakrani, Columnist

The Kardashians have built their careers by imitating and profiting from black culture. This is a truth that is not often spoken about but it is something that should be considered problematic and raise further questions on how white celebrities can get away with it or be celebrated for trends that black people have started. Over the years, the Kardashians have tried to alter their bodies and their hairstyles to look more like black women, consequently appropriating black culture.  We have seen over the years how Kim Kardashian and her sisters have styled their hair in cornrows and dreads which were considered as ‘innovative’ and ‘edgy’ by the hypocritical media. However, when such hairstyles were worn by Zendaya Coleman, who is a black actress, the media labelled her all sorts of things but nice ones. The Kardashians are trying to be black without understanding the significance of being black. Creating features like the curvaceous derrière and full lips which do not even match their Caucasian features and being praised by the media while making a lot of money through it, is derogatory towards black women specifically . It does nothing to empower the black community and instead steals from it and keeps doing only damage. black women have been using their hairstyles as protective styles and there is a whole story of oppression and white supremacy out of which many of these practices have stemmed from. The main problem is how it became new and fresh and fun when the Kardashiand started to do them, because it was on someone else other than a black woman. That’s where the culture appropriation element comes into play. Not to mention Kim Kardashian’s cover on Paper magazine. Her cover was shocking, but mostly due to the racist undertones and implicit mockery of black women. The cover was explicitly linked to Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman, who was paraded around Europe during the 19th century and used as a freak show exhibit due to her large bottom. Sarah was  mocked, sexualized, and profited off of, and to this day, black women still end up being treated as sexual beings if they have large backsides — the same shape that white women are now making trendy.

Illustration by Cat Burch

And then there is the case of the younger sibling of the family, Kylie Jenner, launched a line of camo bikinis, which very clearly resemble those worn by Destiny’s Child in their “Survivor” music video back in the day and were considered as something “brand new.” Not only they were not new, but these camouflage bikini sets are similar to those of Tizita Balemlay’s brand Plugged NYC. Kylie requested many of Balemlay’s items before mysteriously producing a copycat line of her own. The pieces are so similar that upon first glance, the two brands put next to one another look like one cohesive line.

We can’t say for sure to what extent they know the gravity of their actions but for sure they know how to use every situation to garner attention for themselves and to make profit. Even if this means exploiting black culture and disrespecting the struggle of the black community, especially of black women.