Kim Kardashian West: A Modern Day Heroine?

Kim Kardashian West is a modern day heroine. There, I said it. This may come as an affront to the work of eminent heroines such as Aung San Suu Kyi, Rosa Parks or Mother Teresa, courageous women who have changed the course of history or dedicated their lives to helping the less fortunate, or who possess qualities that have influenced millions after them. How dare I say that a woman who reached celebrity status from a sex tape could be a modern day heroine?

In a TEDxVancouver talk, Elaine Lui, a “professional gossip” spoke on the sociology of gossip, and made some insightful comments about celebrity gossip and how it says more about our social culture than the celebrities themselves, and how the portrayal of celebrities in the media reflects “popular moral and ethics of that time.” In many ways, how we view Kim Kardashian says more about us than her and whether we are ready to label Kim a modern day heroine.

A heroine is a woman admired for her courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. If you are sceptical or quite frankly offended at the notion of Kim as Heroine, I’ll break it down for you.

The Sex Tape

Kim’s sex tape wasn’t the first nor will be the last celebrity sex tape. In interviews where Kim has directly been asked about the tape, she responds that we’ve all made mistakes and the sex tape was a mistake. If we accept the tape was a mistake, then unless we’ve never made mistakes, who are we to judge. If the tape was leaked without her consent, she would be the victim of a grave breach of privacy. Maybe it was a publicity stunt, nevertheless, what we never see is a social condemnation of Ray J, the other party in the sex tape, it’s the woman who is slut shamed and condemned and the public are ruthless, especially on social media, cyberbullying is rampant. We overlook the strength of someone who can live through being called the most hated woman on the planet. It takes courage not to let the shame, embarrassment and humiliation adversely affect her entire life, but Kim turned it around for herself and now has a self-made multi-million dollar empire. Her courage should be admired.

Talentless Kim

In a 2011 interview with Barbara Walters, Barbara said to Kim, “You don’t really act; you don’t sing; you don’t dance. You don’t have any — forgive me — any talent!” To which, Kim responded by saying “I think it’s more of a challenge for you to go on a reality show, and get people to fall in love with you for being you.” In my opinion the “talentless claim” is complete nonsense, Kim is one of the most successful businesswomen in the world, with clothing, jewellery, perfume lines, a television show, an extremely successful app and many more. By modern standards, her accomplishments are heroic.

Provocative Image: Woman, Wife and Mother

Bum, boobs, and back. We’ve seen it all. From her nude photoshoots, to provocative attire. How dare I associate a heroine with someone who leaves nothing to the imagination, who doesn’t respect herself? We live in a society with so many expectations on how a woman should look, dress and behave in order to be taken seriously or be worthy of respect. These conservative and superficial expectations for women are outdated. Women should have the choice to wear whatever they want- it has nothing to do with their self-respect. I mean, does the human anatomy really offend your delicate sensibilities?

Kim does not conform to society’s expectations of women, she does and wears whatever she wants. She sends the message that girls shouldn’t be ashamed of their bodies and should embrace and reclaim their bodily autonomy. Also, Kim is criticised for celebrating her sexuality because she is a mother and a married women. We hear “keep it for your husband’s eyes only,” or in the words of Naya Rivera, Glee actress who commented on Kim’s photo saying “I normally don’t. But…you’re someone’s mother.” Kim, or any woman, shouldn’t have to hide their sexuality once their married or have children. Social commentators have called Kim the overlooked face of feminism and the women’s sexual liberation movement.

Bad Role Model for Young Girls

Girls, don’t aspire to be a self-made successful businesswoman, a wife, a mum, with a smoking hot body (Note the sarcasm). Also, Kim’s work for charity is often overlooked. Kim is on speed-dial for the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles when funding is needed. Upon receiving an award this year at Variety’s Power of Women New York she recited “Here’s to strong women, may we know them, may we be them, and may we raise them.”

Whether we admit it or not, Kim empowers women in more ways than we acknowledge, we have to admire her courage, accomplishments and her message. If you are still skeptical, maybe it says more about us than her. Kim is a modern day heroine.

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