Do celebrities like Kim Kardashian need a reality check?
Kim Kardashian-West recently took to Instagram to share pictures from her 40th birthday celebration; a trip to a private island with a large group of her friends. The post read: “After two weeks of multiple health screens and asking everyone to quarantine, I surprised my closest inner circle with a trip to a private island where we could pretend things were normal just for a brief moment in time”. The reality star referred to the trip as a ‘simple luxury’, and went on to say: “I realise that for most people, this is something that is so far out of reach right now, so in moments like these, I am humbly reminded of how privileged my life is”. But does she realise just how privileged she is? With an estimated net worth of $780m how can Kim Kardashian-West, or anyone in her exceedingly large “closest inner circle”, know how the pandemic is affecting those without private jets, access to “multiple health screenings” and a selection of grandiose Californian villas in which to quarantine?
Money is a divider here; those enjoying Kim Kardashian’s level of wealth are not going to experience this pandemic in the same way the average person will. She does not have to worry about her business going under as a result of the economic impact of the pandemic. In fact, this year, she sold 20% of KKW beauty for $200m and starting her new company Skims in September 2019, her business ventures have only grown at a time when most people have had their wages reduced or lost their jobs completely. The economy may be crashing, but Kim Kardashian has been able to secure her legacy, so why would she notice?
The Kardashians are so far removed from the realities of increased use of food banks, of working through masks and behind screens, of isolating for two weeks in a flat with no garden and no space to exercise. Examples like this remind us just how much having money can impact both our day to day life and our outlook. The problem here is not just that she took this trip to a private island with so many friends, it’s that she felt the need to share it, and team it with a message of humility. Pretending “things were normal for just a brief moment in time” is an impossibility for the majority of people at the moment. Not just because they can’t have their sisters over to film their reality show. Kim, there’s people that are dying!
I wish I could say I was surprised to see this from the Kardashians. I wish people with their platform would acknowledge the impact of their words can have, and their responsibility to be empathetic to the experiences of others, but living a life of privilege to the extent they have, I assume it is easy to tune out the struggles of anyone outside their Calabasas bubble. I don’t think these people are stupid by any means, but they have been trained in “tuning out the hate” and I’m sure that sometimes means blocking out the opinions of others completely. The answer here isn’t to send an onslaught of hate to the Kardashians for being out of touch. I do think they need to learn that their platform comes with a responsibility, but constructive criticism will not infiltrate them when engulfed in angry messages. Maybe there’s something to be said for escapism here. Keeping Up With the Kardashians has been successful for so long because people like watching how rich people live their lives. I can’t act like I’ve never switched on the TV to revel in the ridiculousness of fighting with your sister over a dress, in your multi-million dollar mansion with several walk-in-wardrobes of designer clothes at the ready. But I think Kim’s birthday post showed that this pandemic has shifted people’s perspective on how much we tolerate ostentatious displays of how much you have, when so many are losing everything. I’m not saying the pandemic will lead to a communist revolution, but people are getting fed up with how out of touch with reality these celebrities are, and just how much they get away with without looking beyond their own noses.
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