Kim Kardashian and her family have found various ways to keep the spotlight on them, from their TV shows, product lines, and at times controversial looks. The Kardashian/Jenner sisters have not been afraid to showcase different styles that are “inspired” from different cultures. It is common to see the sisters sport box braids, which are styles that African American women have worn to protect their natural hair. Yet, when African American women wear these hairstyles it is seen as unprofessional and has cost them job opportunities. However, the Kardashian sisters face scrutiny in another manner. While it does not cost them their job, they have been labeled as people who appropriate cultures for personal benefit.
At times, I believed that they do it just because they simply do not know better, but there has to be a limit. Given the amount of resources available to us and the amount of information at our fingertips, one would think the sisters would start being more careful and not step on toes when it comes to using different cultures for their benefits.
While all the sisters have been under fire for certain looks, Kim takes the cake. From the fake tans to the naming of certain products, she has been able to get away with these controversial factors, but has also said controversial things. Recently, a video surfaced of Kim saying that Indian food was so gross. Yet, she has been wearing tikkas and has shot for Vogue India, fully reaping the benefits of being on the cover of such an influential Indian magazine. I totally get that everyone has different tastes and Indian food is not for everyone!
However, the way they disregarded the feelings of some potential Indian viewers is sad and disheartening, given the platform that these women have. Take it from me, I avoided packed lunches at school because the curry jokes were so common and I was ashamed. While I do not have a problem with Kim being on Vogue India because she is a celebrity and various women have graced the cover, I have an issue with the way she only uses culture to her benefit and disregards it when it does not benefit her. And while Kim published an apology about this issue, it has not made them more sensitive to other issues where they have blatantly used different cultures to their benefits. She has been in the spotlight long enough to know that the way certain things are said, it can be offensive.
Given that Keeping Up With The Kardashians has become such a popular show and has an international following, it is important their influence is positive for everyone and not just their brand. Wearing tikkas because its cute, is fine till you respect everything else that comes with the culture. As a child of South Asian background, I do not own the culture and cannot tell people what to wear and how to wear it, but I do beg you to appreciate the culture behind it. If you have a friend who is South Asian and getting married, by all means dress up and enjoy the culture. The issue does not stop there, it is not about simply wearing the clothes, it is the fact that they can profit of the culture without facing any backlash.
Of course, the Kardashians are not the only ones who have used other cultures for their benefit and have appropriated cultures. Sadly, their huge platform just makes it easier to highlight these cases of appropriation. However, this family has capitalized on many fronts while disregarding the cultures of those they have appropriated from. So, Kim finds Indian food gross but is ok with using the Indian culture for her benefit. That is why it is harmful that celebrities such as Kim and her family demean food so openly. Moreover, these clips get shared on multiple platforms, and in the hands of bullies, can be very harmful.
While many Immigrants have tried to assimilate to be accepted, its moments like this that remind them that even something as simple as food is viewed as “gross” and not good enough. For years, immigrants have adapted to Westerners and their habits – by clothing or their adherence to certain customs. Yet, one thing sets them apart – their skin colour and the blatant differences in how they are perceived and treated by the West.
The Kardashians can use all the fake tan they want and use cultures to their benefit, but the one thing they will never face is the discrimination for being different. While others can monetize from other cultures, it lies in the fact that they can live with the comfortable fact that they don’t have to ever deal with the stigma of how people of colour are viewed.