Kim Kardashian: American Woman
On a chilly morning during Los Angeles’ “May gray,” as mist rolls off the sea’s marine layer to cool down the city, Kim Kardashian wakes up at 6 a.m. and an hour later heads to her “glam room.” That’s Kardashian-speak for her capacious dressing room, where even at this early hour, a professional makeup artist and hairstylist have already arrived, awaiting her with hundreds of little brushes, blushes and combs. She relaxes into her chair as layer upon layer is applied — she loves the feeling of getting makeup done, the way you can be at one with your eyeliner — while also glancing at a baby monitor in case North, her two-year-old daughter with husband Kanye West, wakes up. West has his own monitor too, and keeps it close in case North stirs while Kardashian’s indisposed. By 9:00, Kardashian is on her way to a meeting in Santa Monica. She hates being late.
Does this sound pretty dull? Yes, but it’s the stuff that Kardashian has spun into gold, transforming herself from a beautiful but average L.A. girl into one of the world’s top pop icons and megabrands. She is everywhere in the media, from E!’s Keeping Up With the Kardashians, her 10-season-long TV show that’s aired in 160 countries and spawned numerous spinoffs, to her mobile game, which has been downloaded 33 million times, to high-fashion magazines, which have, first grudgingly and then enthusiastically, accepted that the perfect, punctual, prettiest daughter of this extraordinarily powerful matriarchal clan is a force with whom they must reckon.
And as much as her thoughts and actions on this Earth may be quotidian, the way she looks is out of this world. As she strides into the meeting precisely on time and in an outfit made up of colors found exclusively in nature — dark-green ankle-length dress, sand-colored lace-up sandals and tree-bark Céline purse — the effect is like a photorealistic painting, meaning that the Kardashian on the TV screen feels more real than the Kardashian in the room. She’s a jungle Aphrodite escaped from a forest of big-booty nymphs, with a mane as thick as a horse’s and as black as volcanic rock. Her eyelashes flutter like teeny-tiny go-go dancers’ fans. Her nails are small, elegant talons, painted a color that manages to be both onyx and the bloodiest red. But it is Kardashian’s body that is the thing, of course, and today, as always, her clothing is so tight it feels transgressive, clinging in particular to that strange, glorious butt, a formerly taboo body part that is now not only an inescapable part of the American erotic but also our best and most welcome distraction from climate change, income inequality and ISIS.