This article has an interesting origin story. I decided to rejoin Twitter this year, and I have been addicted ever since. This month, I noticed that I was seeing a lot of tweets about what we are leaving in 2019. As I was pitching the idea to the team, we had the latest Kardashian stunt. While I would like to still like to highlight things we could leave in 2019, I think there is one thing we can leave behind: the Kardashian clan, internet outrage and cancel culture.
Kim’s Latest Controversy
What is cancel culture all about? Someone does something offensive, toxic and/or destructive. The internet decides to express their outrage and work to tear down everything said person has worked for. Usually, the offending party will lose their jobs, sponsorships and must go on an apology tour to assuage bruised feelings. For those who are able to successfully ride the wave of outrage, they could reap free publicity, clout, new opportunities and a truly tested foundation of their success and core fan base. I think that this situation with Kim could offer an excellent case study. What was Kim’s crime this time? She decided to pose for a magazine cover photo with a skin colour that was not her own, also known as “black fishing.” She has received a large amount of backlash, which is making the rounds in the headlines.
The term “blackfishing” is a portmanteau of Inception-level proportions – meaning, this urban compound word has layers. “Blackfishing” = blackface + catfishing. Blackface would be the historical practice of white actors painting themselves black to mock people of African descent. It has now morphed into a subject of modern outrage, whenever white, biracial or light-skinned people choose to darken their skin to imitate unambiguous black people, for whatever reason. Some women have been using this technique to appear different online, to trick people into attraction to them or a romantic and/or emotional relationship, hence the “catfishing” aspect within the “blackfishing.”
There has been a real trend in 2019 of white women darkening their skin to appear black, mixed race or simply ethnic. Why? They are leveraging long game strategy. These women can see that their type of beauty is not currently trending. Black and biracial women have secured five top pageant titles this year, and yet another has won Model of the year in 2019. Like the young folks say, the white and nonblack women are shook. It is important to watch the signs of the times. Beauty standards are always changing and evolving. Certain nonblack celebrities and regular woman can see beautiful black women getting their shine in this moment, and want to capitalize on that shift. For this particular case, we see people making comparisons to Kim emulating Beyoncé with this look, which is honestly nothing new over the years.
I stopped doing commentary on the Kardazians (NappyHeadedJoJoba voice) hoping they’d just ? but I guess it doesn’t work that way pic.twitter.com/vUp872HBvl
— Litty.Lo (@iameloho) December 20, 2019
She really went to the surgeon and said “give me Beyoncé’s face” pic.twitter.com/IdnUykSOgt
— peppermint mocha (@OrangeBey) August 10, 2019
Do not hate the player, Hate the game
This practice goes beyond Kim Kardashian, or even the recent blackfishing trend. We can find examples of white women switching up their looks to match the current beauty standard throughout history. For example, in ancient times, the Romans would conquer different nations around the world, and bring slaves back to the capital. Local women would be threatened by acquired slave women from Scandinavia, Gaul (now France) and Germany, who were highly sought after. These lower class women had blond hair instead of the typical brunette. While originally, these women were stigmatized for their different looks, higher class women began to emulate their style, dying their hair and donning wigs to equalize the playing field. You know what also happened? The negative stigma associated with blonde hair was diminished.
White people spent years trying to convince the world that darker skin didn’t meet the beauty standard only for their women to turn around and use makeup to transform their entire ethnicity ?? pic.twitter.com/pLafZXUEM2
— Hot Girl Tam ?? (@Tamberlands) December 21, 2019
To me, this is just the same game of desirability and competition being played out on the internet. Instead of us recognizing that this is a key season where we can thrive, we are dragging ladies across the internet over cultural appropriation and racism. Ladies, we have a choice. We can be angry when people imitate our features, or we can sit back and enjoy the free publicity. Better yet, we can ride the wave and make this work for us. How can we leverage situations where nonblack women emulate black features? How can we promote our own beauty, at their expense, and encourage others to do the same, on the world stage? We will discuss that later on in the article.
Back to the subject at hand. Love her or hate her, Kim Kardashian is a boss babe. While I am not a hardcore follower of hers, I love discussing her rise to fame and what she has done to get the life that she wants. Kim has wanted to be famous for as long as I have been alive, and maybe longer. She is one of the few celebrities whose journey I have been exposed to my whole life. I am including this video from the ET archives for your enjoyment:
While Kim had claimed for a while that she has never had surgery or similar enhancements and has never changed her appearance, she is not fooling anyone. I will share some images of her body’s transformation over the years. This is not just a stroll down memory lane, but an analysis of how Kim has transformed her look. Before Kim Kardashian’s booty was embraced by the public sphere, who was known for having a big bottom? Who was known for dark skin? What about big lips? Oh, yeah, us. While Kim might be a more palatable image for the masses, her mere caricature is sending a subtle message out there: black women are the IT girls. Their features are a cut above. No one in my community is checking for me, but I can get praise in this community over there, at the community women’s expense. I will do whatever I can to get that look and be a part of that IT crowd too.
(Kim could never have had a bum enhancement. What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?)
Kim finally admitted that she received bum injections that changed the shape of her derrière, apparently for health reasons. While she was trashed and ridiculed for her figure, she has managed to take her look where she was celebrated. She turned her brand into a thriving business, be it with her show, her makeup brand and clothing lines, earning her a cool $350 million. You can see more articles on her transformation here, here and here. Standards of beauty change and evolve over time. It takes a real savvy mind to be able to see that trend, and mould yourself in a way that sets you up for success.
Kim’s transformation from the 1990s to the 2000s.
Kim’s transformation from the 2000s to the 2010s.
Let Us Dig Deeper
Despite all of the praise I have given Kim in this article, I definitely give her major side-eye as well. This whole situation is trifling to the high heavens, but I am so over it. She and her family constantly copy black women, and other black celebrities, (namely Beyoncé and Solange), for views and relevance. They thrive off the clicks and the backlash, make a mealy-mouthed apology, and turn around and do it again when they are no longer trending online. They do not care. This game works in their favour, and they will play the game until it no longer works.
If you have to tell someone over and over that something they do makes you feel hurt or humiliated and they keep doing it, that person has no respect for you and does not care about your feelings
— H (@HarleyShah) November 11, 2019
Sometimes I wonder why these women continue to do this. Kim and her family have emulated black features, capitalized on their beauty status within the black community, courted all of the black men who would have them, and had children with the features that they really see as beautiful. (I have heard that Kim has declared on her show, KUWTK, that she allegedly tanned her skin darker to match her daughter North’s. I searched for days and couldn’t find that clip. I weep for my YouTube algorithm. However, I did find a video with her sister, Kylie, who has had a similar transformation. She did a video with then-friend Jordyn, discussing her daughter Stormi’s features at 3:00-3:43.) They have already solidified their position in society, and wealth for the next generations, so why continue to play this game? I guess only they have the answer. Chrissie has a lot of videos on this topic. Feel free to look them up on YouTube, but I thought that you might be interested in this video in particular, with examples from the Kardashian clan:
(Note: Chrissie’s views on black vs. biracial people do not mirror my own. I have a post on that to come.)
Do not share their links and videos. Don’t give them views or likes. Do not buy magazines that feature this nonsense. (Yes, I did it, but I am keeping you informed.) When this content is trending and spreading to the four corners of the earth, that is more coin in their pocket. Just pay them dust, and let them die off (in terms of relevance only!) in peace. Let’s practice the Pink Pill Wall of Silence in 2020. Acknowledge that they are playing their game to win, wish them will, and stay on your grind.
Encourage Positive Promotion
We have so many black women that are thriving and living their best lives on and off social media. Why don’t we promote that? We have our pageant queens, our models, our entertainers. We have everyday women that we can promote. While some men will be satisfied with the imitation, many more will crave the real thing. If black people can generate $23 million dollars worth of free advertising for Popeyes and black women hold at least $1.5 trillion dollars in collective buying power, we have the power to control the narrative. We need to collectively build and strategize a code of action: what images are acceptable for us to promote, and what are not. If we can all stay on code and control how we are presented, via accurate representation or imitation, we can start to elevate our collective image. Do not let anyone gaslight you. You are beautiful and amazing. The best is yet to come.
Do Not Air Grievances in the John Q. Public
Black women come for other black women all the time. (Yes, we do it too, but we are a blog. This is what you came here for.) Anytime a black woman comes onto the timeline with a look or practice that we cannot appreciate, we want to tear them down. The thing is, when you do this in public spaces, you are encouraging other non-black and/or male people, to do the same. I have lived around different groups of people, and have had friends across ethnicities. Othere groups have a similar code: they do not air dirty laundry in public. Arguments and criticisms are kept in-house, behind closed doors.
We need to start presenting a united front, to benefit from influence and power as a collective group. So, we must start moving in silence. If you see another black woman wearing weave, rocking blonde hair or bleaching their skin, let them be great. It is absolutely not for me, but I am not dragging black women for this anymore. If nonblack women can be celebrated for looking black or mixed, why am I going to clown black women publicly for doing the same thing? Get in where you fit in. Save your kekeke and critiques for the private Facebook groups, text messages and Whatsapp chats, with strict codes of silence elsewhere.
Study Your Opponent
Kim has leveraged serious strategy to become and remain famous. I think that we can try to leverage similar tips. Find someone in your sphere of influence who has a life that you want, take notes and copy the playbook. Back in the 90s, Kim was Paris Hilton’s assistant and stylist. During their time together, Kim had the chance to rub shoulders with the rich and famous, and get a taste of the life she wanted. Once she saw that Paris’ sex tape was released, and it got her a reality show, the wheels were in motion. Kim’s sex tape was released shortly afterwards, accidentally or not, she became infamous. Her reality show has laid the foundation for her family’s clout, wealth and starpower today. One thing you can say about this family is that they can really capitalize on negative situations. We saw a sex tape turn into a reality TV dynasty and beauty/fashion empire.
While we as black women cannot benefit from some of the trifling stunts white and other nonblack woman use to come up, we can still take a step back and assess: what is the life that we want? How can we get there? What opportunities can we take advantage of when things are looking chaotic? How can we use chaos as a ladder? We are actively discussing this in the Pink Pill community, just in time for the New Year. Christelyn’s latest video will give you the scoop:
Let them work for you
I was honestly wondering how long Kim was going to stay relevant as a sex symbol. After all, there will come a time when those antics will be condemned, as she grows older and embraces life as a mother. While her pivot into fashion and beauty could take her further still, it is a rather heavily saturated market. I am impressed to see that she is now becoming a lawyer like her father. One of the best benefits of this new career is her working to release black women from jail like Alice Johnson. If you must give Kim Kardashian attention, point her to incarcerated black women that could use her support. Let her be the race warrior will you sit back and enjoy a day at the spa. It is time to work smarter, not harder. At the very least, her constant promotion helps to destigmatize curvy bodies and brown skin in public spaces, as problematic as this imagery can be.
How to move forward
The reality is that the Kardashian-Jenner clan are never going to go away. They have found a way to capitalize on shock value in a way to generate clicks and buzz that we could only dream of. I may not like what Kim Kardashian does, but I will always respect her for playing her game to win. However, the tide is turning. Society has spoken. We are the IT girls. It is now time for us to capitalize on this critical moment. I’ll leave you with these thoughts below:
At this point, I blame black people for this woman's reign.
Not even Paris Hilton lasted this long.
If it hadn't been for black men AND women gassing this family up and allowing them in spaces created for and by black people, Kim wouldn't feel this comfortable doing this. https://t.co/PBEGWWcZTn
— Not The Handsome Man in Avi (@Mariah__Cara) December 19, 2019
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