I was introduced to Pablo Picasso, Rembrandt, and Leonardo Divinci because of the necessity of historical art education in elementary school. I remember staring at the Mona Lisa thinking she was incredibly ugly and eluding to it in class discussion. My teacher shot me a look that could kill then reminded me of the basis of art, its commitment to exploration, individual interpretation, objectivity, and to never discount the beauty in anyone’s artistic expression. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, was the lesson."
The other day, I woke to conversations about Kim Kardashian breaking the internet. My first thoughts were ones of another sex tape leak because today’s standards of newsworthy buzz are incredibly low and defunct and we’ve seen Kim have sex already so nothing else could top it beyond perhaps an orgy. Imagine my surprise when I viewed the notorious Paper Magazine Photography largely circulated as Art and contributions to add to the legacy of Jean-Paul Goude.
Being a woman of color, the recent Kardashian Art has no significance to me primarily because nearly every woman I know has been walking around since the 80’s showcasing the exact same type of talent but there have been no awards or trophies for it. In the words of Drake, “ain’t no awards for that."
In fact, the very pose and posture of present day Kim emulates the essence of a woman of color originally photographed by Goude due to his curiosity and interest in the objectification of the Black Body. His art, both past and present, in this context to me is nothing more than modern day minstrel, Sara Bartman exploitation of a culturally distinctive identifier predominantly in Black Women. I cannot find pride and appreciation in the art as it singularly reminds me of the very discriminatory standards of beauty, art, and most importantly America. Why is the exact same ass carried by 1 out of every 2 women of color art when showcased by Kim Kardashian? A piece of me and my ancestors’ cultural inheritances is now the new it accessory and people are able to showcase it and put it on to get ahead as contributions to art. This confounds me.
I lived through the 80’s, an era where women of color were spectacles and tried to hide our ill proportioned posteriors because of stares, villainous remarks, and societal promotions of ideologies like less is more. In the 90’s White Men and Women asked me questions about how it “got that way” and what I did to contribute to the size and circumference. Even in college I experienced modern day Sara Bartman inquiries and could only count on Black Men to appreciate the mechanics and build of the Black Body AND even in this case there were occasional jokes, donkey and horse noises made as I walked past the student union or large groups of men.
I remember witnessing the first wave of societal posterior love with Murder Inc. when Jennifer Lopez circulated through various Ja Rule videos. In my opinion, it was the first time mainstream America started to look at curvaceous women in a different light, one with less contempt and judgment but the lines of what was natural, organic, and acceptable were still ever present nonetheless. It was still not natural or beautiful to have a large posterior. It was a rarity and the memo in circulation was one that gave provisional acceptance for women carrying one that were famous and seemingly beautiful.
Now in 2014, I wake up like this, mechanical asses, ass shots, White Women with asses, asses on promo asses for sale, ass acceptance speeches whilst awards and trophies are being given out and I have yet to receive one. In fact, no woman with an organic bottom is receiving any love for today’s most fabulous accessory. Instead we are now taunted and told they look fake, too small, or asked where we purchased them. Or better yet if we visit the ocean or poolside are subject to stares because what Kim showcases in magazines is not the authentic look of a mature and weathered ass. Men look disturbed and confused at the sight of natural stretch marks and blemishes as if carrying the equivalent of a bowling ball on your backside should come blemish free. It is not simply enough to keep it tight; it must also appear as smooth and clear as a baby’s bottom.
My first thought after viewing the photography was wow in all my years of having a rotund ass I’ve never managed to keep it blemish free. There are no surgeries or miracle celebrity creams to keep an organic ass that beautiful, especially one that works out, endured childbirth, etc. In fact, I was likely born with ass stretch marks because it expanded from inception and continued to increase over the years.
There is no amount of squats, kickbacks, marathons, or dermatological invents to combat the effects of gravity on my skin as it shaped to create the applebum.
At any rate, I am not upset with Kim or the Kardashian clan as they know exactly what to do to stay relevant and paid. They have the perfect marketing formula and recipe to monetize from the ignorance of today’s millennials. If an award or trophy is being given out let it be for that, their business savvy and command for understanding the perverse psychology of today’s consumer.
I’m also not disturbed by Kim being a new mother and taking risqué photography as how you enter the game is typically how you exit. She has to maintain a certain brand persona for continuity sake. To date, her overwhelming talent is being bold (risqué) and beautiful so showcasing the chocha is one of her proven effective methodologies and a best practice in the way she conducts business.
If I have any upset it lies in the fact we live in a cruel disillusioned world where the beauty of my Black is only acceptable when someone else puts it on. A world where we as people of color often exploit ourselves to conform to what is acceptable despite us knowing the cost and burden our youth and children will inherit at the hands of our irresponsibility.
What I know about Kim is she now has a Black Child so she will experience an awakening about the life and times of being Black in America AND there is no amount of money or no ass size big or small to combat the double standards or prejudice North West will experience.
Rearing a Black Child in today’s society is a feat even if you have money because anything is possible. Poverty is no longer the largest key indicator of potential failure in parenting, its opposite wealth is just as powerful and influential.
KimYe have a task on their hands like none other and no marketing trajectory, money, or privilege will prepare them for life as parents of a biracial child. There is no art and barely any beauty in the authentic Black experience one suffers at the hands of America even with a pinch of Black in their ancestry. Finding the balance and art in this plight makes one the real MVP. The trophies and awards should be given out for that, let’s see if any arrive.