In case you missed it on your timeline – which seems impossible – the Met Gala took place this week. Although some found the fashion underwhelming, one person has everyone talking for all the wrong reasons: Kim Kardashian. Now, with everything else going on in America (Roe vs Wade), you’d think people had other things to worry about than Kim Kardashian. But like everything the Kardashians say or do, it speaks to a bigger issue regarding the influence of the young and vulnerable.
Kim Kardashian attended the Met Gala on Monday, wearing Marilyn Monroe’s iconic dress that she wore when singing Happy Birthday to President JFK. She then attended the Met Gala after-party wearing another iconic dress of Marylin’s, which she wore when accepting the Henrietta Award – a high honour in fashion circles. The question is, was Kim K a worthy recipient of such an honour? No, as I refuse to accept her as this generation’s Marilyn Monroe, and so do many others. Here’s why.
We all know that when the Kardashians make headlines, it’s never quite as simple as “Kim wore a dress, the end.” In preparation for the Met Gala, Kim boasted about how she lost over a stone in three weeks to fit into the crystal-embellished gown using irresponsible methods. This is one of the reasons why people are refusing to hold Kim up with the same esteem Marilyn Monroe had when she was alive – and in death.
In 2022, knowing what we know about eating disorders and the toxicity that surrounds fad diets, how out of touch does Kim have to think that this would be an appropriate thing to promote with a platform as big as hers? The Kardashians have contributed to setting a beauty standard for whole generations that is unobtainable. Whether you like it or not, many girls and young women use Kim et al. as a beacon for how they think they have to look, which is, in my opinion, a responsibility the Kardashians have never quite owned. When your platform is that big, when you insert yourself in every crevice of the media, you have a duty to make sure what you put out there is not harmful, and at times, they have done the opposite.
In Marilyn’s day, she was considered as plus size. She (and others like her) made women with curves not only acceptable in Hollywood but desirable. She came from nothing, and despite the controversy that she had when she was alive, people still rally around her to this day. It’s of the opinion that Kim, on the other hand, profits from everyone else’s culture, beauty and creativity and passes it off as her own. What Kim represents – the unobtainable beauty standards that she peddles as achievable – are damaging to the young and vulnerable. Whether she achieved her body through crazy crash dieting (like she did for the Met Gala) or surgery, it’s not sustainable, but she has millions of people thinking it is. Of course, the choice to try and create Kim’s look lies with the person, but it doesn’t help that in the media, her voice is louder than all the people trying to advocate against these insane beauty standards that people believe are the norm.
The criticism Kim received for boasting about her rapid weight loss for the sake of Marilyn’s dress has been heavy, and rightly so. From celebrity voices like Lili Reinhardt and Jameela Jamil to medical experts and major publications writing articles about just how damaging the situation is, Kim certainly has a lot to answer for.
Another issue I take with Kim’s “tribute” to Marilyn is she’s completely ignoring the fact that she is essentially profiting from Marilyn in death, just as so many have done before her. If you want to honour someone, Kim knows enough designers who could have made her a dress similar.
Fashionites would have surely got the reference, and it would have been a nice homage to someone who represents the fabric of old American glamour. Everything about Kim represents excess which is why this thought probably never crossed her mind. How can you promote toxic diet culture whilst wearing the dress of a woman who helped normalise natural women’s bodies? Make it make sense.
Kim can point out as many similarities between her and Marilyn as she wants. From being married multiple times to having sex scandals, Kim will never wield the same respect from society that people still have for Marilyn Monroe. Kim has been positioned as this generation’s symbol of sex, glamour and femininity. No amount of money or influence can buy you humanness, something Kim lacks. I refuse to accept Kim in Marilyn’s place as it speaks to a much bigger issue in our society and means that we are accepting the unobtainable as something to aspire to – and we all know how that ends.