My feelings towards Kim Kardashian are usually the same feelings I have towards my job on Friday afternoons. Ambivalent and waiting for the the whole thing to be over so that I don’t have to think about it anymore. Unfortunately, Kim Kardashian and her bottom – just like a Friday afternoon, is the saga that never dies.
A brief internet search will yield headlines such as “want the butt of Kim Kardashian?” or “Kim Kardashian crowned world’s best bum!”. Recently, she decided to bare all (of her bottom) in a magazine.
Let’s ignore the fact that our society has sunk so deep into the mire of nothingness that we write articles about women’s rear ends. I suppose, in a roundabout way I am contributing to this, but hopefully only using said derriere as a window into something deeper and more meaningful. I’ve already made my feelings clear on the whole ‘women being continually naked in media can be progressive’ argument, so let’s ignore that too.
Let’s instead focus on the fact that Kim Kardashian plays the race card in her favour. No, not the one you’re thinking about.
It’s incredibly frustrating that features that are common to black women are more widely celebrated when they are featured on white women.
Kim Kardashian isn’t the first. There was Jennifer Lopez and her rear end. Again. Oh, and Iggy Azalea and her rear end. Again. There was Angelina Jolie’s lips. And Scarlett Johansson’s. Vogue declared 2014 the year of the booty…because of 3 white women. “For years it was exactly the opposite; a large butt was not something one aspired to, rather something one tried to tame in countless exercise classes.”. Huh? So clearly no one on the Vogue editorial team is black.
The same doesn’t work in reverse. Black women with straight hair don’t get emblazoned on the front of magazine covers as trend setters. Black women with naturally light coloured eyes don’t start trends. Duh. Because something is only a trend when it’s co-opted by white people. Until then,it’s just ghetto.
I’m not saying that I want black women to be naked in Paper magazine (or any women for that matter). I’m not campaigning for more Nicki Minaj’s. I’m simply stating that it’s not good enough for features that are prevalent among black women to be be seen as more attractive or worthy of attention when white women have them.
This doesn’t just extend to physical features though, or only to black women. White society in general prefers ‘blackness’ when it’s wrapped up in a white package. Three names comes to mind. Adele, Macklemore, Sam Smith. Macklemore himself admitted that he wouldn’t have made it as far as he did without the privilege of whiteness. Any singers worth their salt know that Adele and Sam Smith, although very talented, are not more talented, neither do they make better music than a lot of black artists in the same genre. VIBE magazine has the audacity to crown Sam Smith the “King of Soul” (you’re allowed to issue a collective LOL at that one) when he’s barely released a cassette, let alone a collection of albums. Sadly, there are enough black people who co-sign this insulting narrative, with various ‘music has no colour’ musings, and other assorted tripe.
I could continue to roll out the list of offences, but I don’t have the space or the energy.
Society is becoming more and more bold in its obvious and pathetic attempts to divorce black people from things that originated with them. They aren’t going to stop doing this. What we can do is kick up a fuss. (The Vogue article was mocked all over the internet). What we can do is continually push back with our words and our works against the continual efforts to marginalise black people, and especially women of colour. It might not change mass media, but it is important enough to continually affirm ourselves in the face of this onslaught..