Yes, We're Gonna Talk About Kim Kardashian. Also About Labor.
While Kim Kardashian has inspired many eyerolls throughout her life, she has really engendered some goodwill within these last few years. There's been a lot of empathy for her given that the situation with Kanye West could not have been and likely is still not easy, and the fact that she has been using her fame to push for prison-reform and for getting people out of prison is certainly something to be commended.
The way she riles up the "Help! Police! There's a woman I don't like out there getting attention and I don't think she deserves it!!" people is also fairly entertaining and ever so helpful for outing undercover misogynists of all genders. To that end, it was actually pretty cool to see someone who has always been treated like a joke have an impact in the way she was having with her prison reform advocacy.
Alas, the "advice for women in business" she gave during an interview with Variety this week was far less helpful.
The Kardashians share their advice for women in business 💼 @kimkardashian @Kris @Kourtney ❤️ @Khloé Kardashian
“I have the best advice for women in business,” Kardashian said. “Get your fucking ass up and work. It seems like nobody wants to work these days.”
"So true," her sister Kourtney responded off camera. Noted Kardashians expert My Sister points out that this is ironic, given that Kourtney's whole deal for several seasons was that she didn't want to work. (I am also informed that Kourtney has replaced Khloé in recent years as the best Kardashian and also that Khloé is the blonde one standing next to Kim in the video.)
First of all, no — most people don't work because they want to work. People have to work in order to survive. It's a lovely bonus if you like what you do, but you're still doing it for money and not for free, because of how you have to pay rent. That is not any of the Kardashians' experience with work, because they get to do work they want to do, and if they didn't want to do that work they would still be very well off. They would not be evicted from their mansion. They would not have to go on SNAP to feed their family. They would be just fine. Their family has enough money to support several generations not having to work and Kim Kardashian herself is worth $1.4 billion dollars.
"You have to surround yourself with people who want to work," Kim kontinued. "Have a good work environment where everyone loves what they do. Because you have one life. No toxic work environments. And show up and do the work."
Interesting that she should bring that up. Last year, Kardashian was sued for "wage theft, retaliation and more" by her gardening and maintenance workers. Her sister Kylie Jenner faced a scandal the previous year when she refused to pay the Bangledeshi garment workers who make the clothes for her clothing line. In 2011 the family was accused of using child sweatshop labor to manufacture their various clothing lines.
The ethos that everyone should "love their work" is not exactly great for labor rights either. Surely, part of the reason the Kardashians have not felt as though they needed to pay their employees fairly or treat them well is because they see those people as partly getting paid in "getting to work for the Kardashians." We're all supposed to collectively maintain this illusion that we all love work so much that we'd do it whether we got paid or not, and so therefore it shouldn't matter what we get paid. But it does matter. At least to those who are not Kardashians.
"I think also because you see everything on social media and you think ‘Oh it’s just a lifestyle’ or ‘Oh it’s like really quick and easy’ and ‘you can just post something’ and it’s not easy." Kardashian said as pictures of her in her SKIMS faux leather shapewear appeared on screen. "When you do product shots, when you do post things that are work related posts it’s still a job and it’s still really hard. Success is never easy and if you put in the work you will see results."
To be fair, there is a reason I don't mess with shapewear much outside of the fact that I like my blood circulation situation and my internal organs the way they are, and that is because I've never successfully gotten it on without pulling a muscle. So sure, it's not pleasant, but we're not talking about working in a coal mine here. Especially, again, when yours is not a survival situation.
On Variety's official Tiktok, where the interview was posted, the magazine made a soundbite of Kardashian's line about people not wanting to work, with "When they make you come into the office again after two years of working from home" written over it and the caption "For legal reasons this is a joke."
It's pretty hilarious that remote work has greatly improved working conditions and the ability to work for people with disabilities, people with children, and those who simply can't afford to live in expensive cities — and that has to stop because for some reason, many companies (and Joe Biden?) think people will slack off if they're not being watched every moment of the day. The Kardashian "no one wants to work anymore" ethos isn't particular to them.
One good thing to come of this is the fact that so many former employees are now speaking out about their time working for the Kardashians, citing a toxic work environment and low pay (and occasionally no pay, for the unpaid interns).
I was an editor on the Kardashian apps in 2015 in LA, worked days nights & weekends, could only afford groceries from the 99 Cents Only Store, called out \u201csick\u201d more than once bc I couldn\u2019t put gas in my car to get to the office, & was reprimanded for freelancing on the side https://twitter.com/Variety/status/1501611270843166720\u00a0\u2026— Jessica DeFino (@Jessica DeFino) 1646851808
[me wearing a Big Dogs t shirt sweating gin at 7 am in the calabasas sun]\nSorry for being in your way, Kylie. Won\u2019t happen again, mam.— A-List Actor Dave McNamee (@A-List Actor Dave McNamee) 1646853751
The other good thing is the incredible backlash the Kardashians have received for their comments from people across the internet who are not too keen on being told, by a billionaire socialite who was born into money, that their problem is that they are lazy. Any way these issues get discussed, any way workers start to stand up for themselves, even if it's by way of Kardashian, is worthwhile.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse