As discussed in class, we experience and witness culture appropriation in most of our daily life activities. Going to a restaurant, taking a yoga class, etc. But when does it become problematic? A discussion of the different layers and different aspects of culture appropriation showed us that it becomes problematic when the oppressed culture does not gain profit or acclamation for it. The Kardashians were the main focus in my presentation, as one of the readings assigned demonstrated. The fact that Kyle Jenner was born famous and that her sister Kim put her in a platform where she helped Kanye West design his clothing line and where she could create her own brand as a Jenner within the Kardashian platform problematizes the fact that Forbes magazine called her the youngest “self-made” billionaire in their cover. Of course, the term “self-made” has to be put in perspective but even with that, knowing Kylie’s famous and privileged background, it is challenging to place both Kylie Jenner and this term together.
Kim’s, Khloe’s and Kylie’s transformation over the years has been evident and the fact that Kourtney Kardashian and Kendall Jenner haven’t had such a curvier transformation made me question the reasons behind it: has Kendall remain thin and svelte because of her fashion model career? Does Kourtney simply doesn’t want to be as curvy and colossal as her sisters? The fact that Kylie Jenner denied for years her use of lip fillers and admitted that she did just last year leaves me wonder what other secrets the Kardashians don’t share either in social media or in their successful reality show, Keeping up with the Kardashians. Furthermore, Kylie and Kendall’s clothing line scandal expressed culture appropriation for profit at its finest. Their use of images of Biggie and Tupac without asking permission to their estates caused a backlash from both their families and the general public.
Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi commercial also caused backlash. Her use of a Pepsi can to ‘calm’ the police officers at a peaceful protest led Pepsi to remove the commercial from all platforms, as the audience showed their distaste against it. Even Bernice King (daughter of activist Martin Luther King Jr.) showed her discontent with the commercial with a funny ‘shade’. Kendall apologized in her social media, in the interviews she did and in their family reality show but will the audience ever forget? The fact that the Kardashians keep getting into cultural appropriation issues makes it a little difficult. They are not only characterized by few as women who sexualize Black men (minus Kourtney and Kendall), but also as culture appropriators in general. Kylie’s big lips, Kim’s use of ‘Bo Derek’ braids (which are nothing but cornrows), Khloe’s colossal butt, Kim’s curvy figure and Kris’ Black boyfriend are examples in which the audience debates whether they truly appropriate from the Black culture or not. When Kim’s famous ‘Bo Derek’ braids went on Instagram, a lot of people commented “it’s not culture appropriation, it’s just hair”. Judge for yourselves.
The fact that the Kardashians are the ‘it girls’ of this era puts them in a position where teens all around the globe want to be like them, as it happens with every ‘it girl’ in general. As celebrities, they are always in their best physical appearance but the fact that they deny going thru plastic surgeries sets unrealistic standards of beauty and thus, low-self esteem in women who don’t have the same ‘natural’ assets. If the Kardashian’s admit going thru the knife for looking as great as they do, maybe these women can realize that the beauty ideals that the Kardashians implicitly promote can be achieved.
In my presentation I also presented a fragment of Malika’s response in a card game in Khloe’s show Kocktails with Khloe. Malika is Khloe Kardashian’s best friend ever since KUWTK first aired. Her response was very telling of her privilege as a Black woman within the exclusivity of being part of the Kardashian klan. Similarly, I showed the Report of Hip-Hop/R&B being the dominant genre In the U.S. for the first time in 2017 and most of its listeners are white. This fact is also very telling of our current pop culture in general. Regarding this as well, it was really interesting to see conservative commentator Tomi Lahren happily sing a 21 Savage rap song. It reminded me of a quote that I heard regarding African-American culture appropiation (I forgot from who) that said "Y'all like everything from our culture but us."
Lastly, I wanted to show clips when having a big butt was conceived bad, but due to shortage of time I couldn’t but the links are here for you all to view. First is a clip from Mean Girls, where Regina is denied acceptance in the ‘cool kids’ lunch table because of her not being able to fit in her pink clothes because of her fat as*. Likewise, a clip of Sex and the City shows that Miranda was ridiculed by a bunch of guys in a casino in Atlantic City due to the baby-weight she gained and her fat as* as well. In conclusion, my aim with this presentation was to demonstrate how characteristics as having big lips, curves and a fat as* was before deemed ugly and bad and how in our current pop culture they’re considered the epitome of beauty.