Earlier this month, Kim Kardashian landed on the cover of Forbes Magazine, and surprisingly enough she was dubbed a “new media mogul” and not the media-hungry celebrity many know her to be. The caption read, “How anyone with a following can cash in.” But the real question is, at what cost?
Let’s take it back to 2007 when the infamous sex tape leaked and put Kim on the map. If it weren’t for her promiscuity, there wouldn’t be much of the Kardashian clan to keep up with. Some call them a talentless bunch, one that rode the curtails of a sex tape to become the most popular family on television — using their name to embark on business ventures and strike it rich. The fact that the Kardashian family sprung from a sex tape says less about their lack of morals and more about what our society values today.
Our culture is one that is constantly advancing into new platforms, both technologically and socially. We are grasping for more when we already have too much. We are involved in social media to the point where Twitter has become a news source for the younger generation. With this culture of widespread consumption, it is no surprise that the Kardashians took their following straight to the bank.
Kim published a book last year entirely made-up of “selfies,” including numerous shots of her topless. Many saw it as self-absorbed and pointless and rightfully so. But people bought it, of course. The market demand for the book actually required the publishing company to switch the type of printer used, according to US Weekly. Why are we letting a book of selfies become a token of success? We should be promoting women as teachers, scientists, business women, communicators and leaders. Why instead do we obsess over outward appearance to the point where there’s a market for “selfie books?” We should aim to be remembered for our intellectual ideas, our work ethic or our community outreach — not our ability to take great pictures of ourselves.
But this is our reality. A person can become a billionaire off of looks alone and our society will turn a blind eye, valuing success at nothing more than face value. We can critique the Kardashians for being self-seeking, but we are advancing no further as a society by doing so. We need to change our outlook on success into one that values hard work, not what celebrities exploit to make millions. We are the problem. The Kardashians are only being smart by taking a nation obsessed with superficial aspects and profiting off of the empire they built for themselves.
We should want the next Forbes “media mogul” to be someone who became successful not because of their looks or made-for-tv personality, but because they worked tirelessly to make a name for themselves. To achieve this, we have to start caring less about the superficial ideals that have taken a foothold in our everyday lives and build a different future. Although we should encourage women to be confident in their self-image, we should refrain from seeing image as the only way to achieve a following or promote oneself. Women have every right to freely express themselves, but girls should never grow up feeling like they must market their looks to advance further in society.
We are faced with a double-edged sword. We criticize Kardashians and the like, but celebrities who made a name on reality television are only following the path that society has paved for them. Unfortunately this path continues as each Sunday viewers will tune in to watch new episodes of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians,” executively produced by the Kardashians and tailored so each family member is portrayed in the exact image they desire. Is this reality? Of course not, but we watch it while the Kardashians cash in on our vapid idea of what entertainment is today.