Earlier this week an article published on Cosmopolitan.com garnered attention when beauty editor Brooke Shunatona chronicled her week living like Kylie Jenner. I rushed to the comments section because I knew there would be a multitude of women either declaring their anti-Jennerness or celebrating Kylie and her family. (Don't worry, this isn't going to turn into some tired, overly critical think piece about the Jenners and Kardashians being the bane of modern society.) In fact, I'm fascinated by the way this group of women (including Caitlyn) have managed to seamlessly embed themselves into American pop culture.
Regardless of our general feelings about the Jenners and Kardashians, we can't dispute that they have made it their business to be at the forefront of fashion and beauty trends so much so that they have become the standard for millions of impressionable girls and (yes) women. (In stating this, my aim is not to discredit the cultural appropriation that takes place when the Kardashians, Jenners and other so called "trend setters" take features or aspects of other cultures and make them their own. This post is not about that.) They dominate our televisions, magazines and timelines so despite the recent backlash that Cosmo received for declaring them "America's First Family", the concept really isn't that farfetched. More people can recall the latest news involving the Kardashians and Jenners than can relay Obama's latest speech or even his most recent Tweet.
Even if you don't feel personally affected by Kim Kardashian's image, numbers don't lie. What is my data to support these bold statements? Look at the number of Instagram followers these women have then try to say that they have not impacted general beauty standards, including body image. It's no wonder that the Jenner and Kardashian sisters have become the epitome of the hashtag "goals." Even if the images you see under the hashtag aren't of the Jenners or Kardshians, they're pretty damn close; women of all colors with manicured hands that frame faces with pouted painted on lips, long hair, small waists accentuated by fat asses, and it all comes together with a romantic filter.
It's hard to get on Instagram and scroll through your feed without seeing posts about waist trainers, detox tea or weave bundles. These products promise to cinch your waist, clear your complexion, regrow your edges, fix your credit score in 3 days and fall just short of saving the babies in Africa. The Kardashians and Jenners have been at the forefront of promoting these products and others like them; selling us all dreams that even God couldn't fulfill. I mean, for how many months did Kylie try to conivince us that her fuller lips were the product of great makeup and not injections? And how many of us really wanted to believe that if we just bought x, y and z our insecurities would dissolve? Kylie Jenner is basically the Cady Heron of 2015.
It's fun to mock the people who idolize a rich White 18 year old who has more assets than most of our parents but I won't act as though I'm impenetrable. I don't follow Kim, Kylie, Khloe, Kendall or Kourtney but I'm not above their influences. I've been known to double tap a Jenner/Kardashian pic and yesterday I purchased nail polish the same shade as a color I saw on Kylie. I mean, salute to the girls who can manage to look good 24/7. I'm hashtag blessed if I manage to look presentable three days in a given week. (A growing fear of mine is becoming a meme and with the way I walk out of the house sometimes, I wouldn't be surprised if there's one floating around Reddit right now just waiting to make it to the masses.)
But is it fair to call people naive for aspiring to be like the Jenners? Can we really blame the downfall of society on the Kardashians' superficiality? Imagine all of the images of the Jenners and Kardashians placed onto a Pinterest board. Pinterest boards are fun to create and look at. We can base our own ideas of perfection off of the images we see and be inspired by them without actually aspiring to be them. It only becomes problematic when we can't distinguish perceived perfection from reality.
The perceived physical perfection of the Jenners and Kardashians does not bother me because I can see it for what is… a false promise. Even Kim Kardashian (as beautiful as she is) doesn't look like the glossy images we see of her in Vogue or on Tumblr. Even though we all know that Photoshop exists, it can still be hard not to compare ourselves to the images we see.
That's where self love comes into play. I've come a long way and am finally at a place where I feel comfortable with myself and can appreciate and acknowledge my own beauty. And on days when I'm not feeling my best and feel especially vulnerable, I give myself permission to embark on a social media detox of sorts. That feeling of FOMO is annoying and I rolled my eyes when I discovered what a thighbrow was. When I'm feeling overwhelmed by social media, I may unfollow that Instagram model who seems to always have her shit together or unlike a Facebook page that keeps shoving "fitspiration" down my throat.
I treat news involving the Jenners and Kardashians like much of pop culture; junk food. It's fun to indulge in double stuff Oreos and I could never imagine giving it up entirely, but I'm well adjusted enough to know that it's not enough to sustain me. As much as I'd love to stay curled up in bed all day with my iPhone in hand, I know that there's life beyond social media and that if I'm going to be a healthy, functioning adult I have to have other interests. I write, go to festivals, shop, eat out, hike with my dog and constantly embark on Sunday rejuvenations where I zone out to music and play with my hair. Don't let social media be your everything and I promise you, your life will be exponentially greater.