Keeping up with ‘Konsumerism’

After Kim Kardashian uploaded a nude selfie to Instagram this week, it seems that, once again, the world cannot get enough of the reality TV star’s every movement. While numerous celebrities have lashed out at Kim for posting the photo, it was still liked by over 1.5 million people.

Photo: Ashley Cooper

In response to the nude photo scandal, Kim wrote an essay explaining herself:

‘I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world.’

But others don’t think that ’empowering’ is the right word to describe the celebrity’s photo. An opinion piece written for the Daily Telegraph argues that:

‘This whole fiasco has never been about body-shaming or slut-shaming, which are just buzzwords used to create substance where there is none. Pretty words in an essay do not change the fact the entire Kardashian empire is built on narcissism, superficiality and materialism’.

I happen to lean closer to this side of the argument. For me, empowerment should not spring from egotism or self-absorption. It should be based on dignity. And I think that there is a clear difference between the two.

But this doesn’t change the fact that the Kardashians are admired, envied and idolised by millions. They maintain their fame through television and social media, promoting notions such as materialism and greed. And their popularity accentuates our money obsessed culture.

Luxury cars, expensive jewelry and fashion. You name it. The Kardashians have it. Or are probably selling it under one of their family brands. But why are we so fascinated by this family? And even aspire to be like them? Especially when the show gives us an inkling of their fakery and dysfunction.

A piece written by The Guardian explains that:

‘For a generation of girls raised on the Disney corporation’s multi-billion dollar line of “princess products”, the five sisters of Keeping Up With the Kardashians were real-life princesses who lived in a Calabasas, California, castle, unabashedly focused on the pursuit of beauty treatments, expensive fun and luxury brands’.

Consumption is central to our culture. Even though we aren’t always aware of our attitudes towards spending, the need to constantly buy is so integrated into our society that it thrives beneath the consciousness.

Thus, our obsession with the family reflects the idea of conspicuous consumption – the acquisition of goods to publicly display wealth and maintain social status. Capitalism promotes competition and since we no longer have to purchase purely for ‘need’,  we can over-consume.

Photo: Flickr

As Mckenzie Wark says, ‘we no longer have roots, we have aerials’, demonstrating that today, media plays an imperative role in our lives. Thanks to Kim and the clan, some of us now value brands and wealth over some of the more important things in our lives.

But who am I to judge when Kim has so successfully created her own mega-million-dollar empire? Especially when the idea of having squillions of dollars to throw around doesn’t seems so bad… I guess nobody can escape ‘Konsumerism’.