R u Keeping Up?

Is the success of the Kardashians a reflection on a society that has began to lose its core values

It’s been a decade since the infamous Kardashian family first came to prominence with their reality show “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” With their display of enormous wealth and luxury lifestyle, the show was an instant hit. Credited with being the most successful reality show of the past decade, now ten years on the show has cultivated the family into global icons that have capitalised on their unique brand of fame. From simple TV reality stars to amassing a global empire with a legion of fans. What is it about the Kardashians that keeps us coming back? Is their influence in popular culture one we should be celebrating?

The show started back in 2007 and since then the family have branched out from TV reality into business, fashion, make up and everything Kardashian. With over 516 million followers combined on Instagram, I think it’s safe to say their presence online has changed the media landscape, reinforcing their power and popularity. From promoting appetite suppressants, waist trainers and a body type that frankly goes against natural design.

The Kardashians hyper-narcissism has inspired a generation of young girls to go under the needle. After they promoted waist training on social media there has been a massive rise in young girls using waist trainers which has resulted in doctors coming out in their droves to remind people of the dangers of it. Doctor Gina Sam stated that waist training can cause “shortness of breath, nausea, fainting and bruising, citing them as some of the most common side effects. With more serious side effects being crushing or misplacing organs to limiting the oxygen supply to vital organs. Despite this the craze continues and as long as a Kardashian is promoting it, young girls are buying it.

However, the family’s influence on today’s society is a complex one. On one hand their insatiable need for attention, fame and money makes it easy for some to just disregard them. Their influence on mainstream society has at times been a positive one. No one can deny the positive and very important impact the family have had on inter-racial relationships. No TV show in history has ever showcased inter-racial relationships the way the Kardashian show has. Khloe has publicly shamed those who are against inter-racial relationships saying “we’re all human beings capable of love so why does skin colour have anything to do with it.” With many people citing the show as the very reason for the change in positive attitudes towards inter-racial relationships.

The girls have also been credited with helping in breaking down social stigmas by displaying their enormous and continued support for the LGBT community. They have openly advocated for equal rights for the LGBT community and have publicly denounced those who are against it, showing their continued support time and time again. When Bruce openly and publicly transitioned in 2015, it resulted in a massive increase of people discussing transgender rights and issues. The transition of Bruce was heavily followed and reported on and since then there have been acts of legislation in support of the rights of the LGBT community.

For many women the Kardashians represent the very essence of the independent woman. Fearless and unapologetic, business savvy and ambitious in a world dominated by men.

The girl’s portrayal of their lives on social media is often one of extreme narcissism and lifestyle. With pictures of their cars, holidays, bodies and celebrity lifestyle often dominating their posts. Posts which are seen by over 155million people worldwide and more often or not their majority audience is young girls between 13-25. Social media often leads to social comparison, where people are comparing their lives to someone else’s, this can often have a detrimental effect on mental health and self-consciousness. Girls are looking up to an idea of perfection that is heavily manipulated and doesn’t represent an accurate portrayal of the person. The Kardashian girls have often been caught out for altering their photos to give an exaggerated representation of who and what they look like. Girls aspire to be like this and are often filled with self-doubt and insecurities when they don’t achieve something that is impossible to achieve in the first place.

It’s their influence on today’s youth that has me concerned. Is the Kardashians success a direct reflection on a society that has begun to lose its core values? A society that place’s wealth, beauty and fame above kindness, education and inner beauty. In a world were shallowness is glorified and to be rich is to be adored. For as long as the media is dominated by controversy and celeb lifestyle the Kardashians will continue to reign.

Instead of using their voices in a more positive way to teach girls about body positivity, they have capitalised on the very idea that a women’s worth is based upon their physical attractiveness and to be more beautiful is to be more successful. With the platform the family, have their voices can impact a generation.

As a society we need to start re-evaluating what our core values are. The success of the family is a direct reflection on what we see as being important in today’s world. Where sex tapes have become a pathway for a successful career, rather than academic achievement. We need to start teaching girls that they are worth so much more than just their body. Not allowing the media and celebs to capitalise on women’s insecurities and continue to package it up and sell it on. Confidence, good self-esteem, values and work hard is the message we need to be sending out. There is no denying what a powerful entity the Kardashians have become. We live in a world where beauty and fame is idolised and until our attitudes change, unfortunately we will still be “keeping up.”

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