By Ophira Edut
I admit it: I kind of keep up with the sisters K. It’s fascinating to watch size, class, race and gender issues all publicly collide in a series of ever-spinning spinoffs. Here are the olive-skinned Kardashians of ambiguous ethnicity, “white” and up-speaking enough to hang with the L.A. celebutantes, yet bootylicious and wealthy enough to date/marry men of any culture they choose without getting racially pigeonholed. [I've already edited myself a few times over, trying to find a politically correct way of saying this...and I just can't.] In an innocuous wrapper of “(rich) girls who just wanna have fun,” they push so many sociological hot buttons. Yet, with their unself-conscious dialogue and insecurities caught on tape, it’s hard not to like them—even as I envy their perfect hair, couture outfits and bottomless bank accounts.
I have a special soft spot for Khloe, who always gets shit when her weight fails to distribute to the most marketable places on her body. You know, like Kim’s oversexualized, Venus-of-Hottentot rear does—the one that everyone’s padding their bony tushes to imitate. (Jennifer Lopez? I’ll raise ya one cheek better.) I loved the episode where Khloe posed naked for a PETA billboard, talking openly about her body image issues and the pain of being compared to her sisters. She really grasped the concept of being a role model for other women, which I thought was cool.
So I was incensed to watch a clip from the latest Khloe & Lamar episode, where Khloe fields a call from Mama Jenner berating her for gaining weight. At first, Kris beefs about how Khloe’s “presenting herself to the media” and “what it’s doing to the brand.” When pressed for specifics, Kris admits to a fear that Khloe’s newlywed poundage could jeopardize the sisters’ lucrative endorsement deal with diet supplement QuickTrim.
“I work so hard at creating…a great deal for you girls,” says Kris. “And you’re not pulling your end of the weight here…I feel like you could not chat [to the media] about how many cookies you eat between meals.”
See the clip:
“Are you trying to say that I’m fat and I’m f—ing up your s—?” yells Khloe. Well, yes. And herein lies the dark side of being a Kardashian. It means you’re a commodity, always on the auction block, and a well-paid slave to the industry’s demands. Quite a trade-off. As sassy and liberated as the “girls” may act, THEY can’t even keep up with the Kardashian Machine anymore. It’s interesting to watch the whole house of cards start to crumble as Khloe moves away from her mother’s profiteering and into her own plans to start a family.
This episode underscored the things I wish the media would acknowledge:
1. Diets don’t work, and they certainly aren’t sustainable.
QuickTrim, fat burners, Biggest Losers, Celebrity Fit Club…how long can we stay on the treadmill, Atkins, South Beach or other quick-fixers that have nothing to really do with health and only with the cult of thinness?
2. Mothers play a vital role in their daughters’ body image.
As a new mom myself, I’m super-conscious of this. I don’t say things like “losing the baby weight” around my 11-year-old stepdaughter, either. It was disturbing to hear Kris Jenner project her standards onto her grown daughter—especially given that she supplied Khloe with half of her diet-resistant DNA. Upping the ick factor: referring to your own child as a “brand.”
3. Money can make people crazier than food.
Reality shows’ endless quest to be impossibly rich and thin may work for the Real Housewives. For the Kardashians, whose Armenian genes were honed for heartiness over the centuries (and their “new money” came a lot more recently), notsomuch. Watching Kris Jenner ink deal after deal for her daughters is like witnessing someone with a food addiction: it’s never enough. Doesn’t matter what you’re endorsing–diet pills, video gaming systems, cake mix, as long as the checks come in. Binge eaters fill a void with mindless food consumption. For both, the emptiness is always there. Then there’s the bargaining: if I “cheat” on my diet, I’ll work out twice as long later and fast all weekend. Or, just pimp out your daughters, let them starve in public and binge on cookies under the covers to keep Kar-Ka$h-ian in.
I’m in the middle of reading Geneen Roth’s great new book Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations About Food and Money, which I highly recommend. Another great book is Jennifer Pozner’s Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV. For as long at the E! channel should be renamed the K! channel, I’ll probably keep an eye on this family, deconstructing them like a tender osso bucco–the kind I’ll bet Khloe would gladly dig into with us.
What do you think of the clip…and the latest Kardashian dash for thinness?