If you ever want to know what sort of a feminist someone is, just ask them about the Kardashians.
Some will tell you that the women of the family, who have made billions thanks to their sense of style, are great businesswomen who have reclaimed their bodies by monetizing them. Others will slate their feminism because it doesn’t apply to anyone who isn’t hot.
The argument is a microcosm for a bigger battle about women’s bodies and who gets to own them. And interestingly, Kim Kardashian West herself underlined this very question on Sunday, during a fiery exchange with her husband Kanye West.
On the show’s latest episode, West admitted that he thought Kardashian’s 2019 Met gala dress was “too sexy”. (The dress was famously designed to make Kardashian-West look like she was dripping wet.) Kanye said he had gone through a ‘“transition” since his rapper days, when he was obsessed with wanting his wife to look good for others. Fast forward to today, and the dress is too much for him.
Coming from a man who spent years talking about and profiting from his wife’s body, you can see why a few eyebrows are being raised. When asked about their romance by radio host Angie Martinez in 2013, West said he fell in love with Kardashian West after seeing a photo of her with Paris Hilton. He bragged that she was one of the most beautiful women “arguably of human existence”.
So it sounded pretty rich when he confessed on the show on Sunday: “I didn’t realize that was affecting my soul and my spirit … You’re my wife and it affects me when pictures are too sexy!”
Does life get any harder than this?
In response, Kardashian-West reminded him: “You built me up to be this sexy person, confident and all this stuff. Just because you’re on a journey of transformation does not mean I’m in the same spot with you.”
Whatever you think of Kardashian-West, we should applaud her for summing up the biggest problem with the beauty standard on women in one sentence. The very reason some people hate her – that she encourages a body ideal that requires self-torture for most people to attain – is perpetuated by men like West.
It was perpetuated when he dedicated an entire music video to how great Kim’s silhouette looks on a motorbike; and it is perpetuated when, having achieved the body ideal, West berates her for being too sexy.
She was right to call him out for being a hypocrite. All we can do now is hope that his spirit and soul can overcome it.