Love ’em or hate ’em, the Kardashians are everywhere. The family’s obsessive need to be in the spotlight fuels their careers, but their ignorance pisses a lot of people off, too. The latest kontroversy: Kim released a shapewear line called Kimono, and immediately got called out for cultural appropriation. But this isn’t the first time this famous fam has faced serious heat: From Kendall Jenner’s controversial Pepsi commercial to Khloé Kardashian’s Indigenous headdresses, here are all the times the Kardashians have been called out.
When Kim named her shapewear after traditional Japanese clothing
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Finally I can share with you guys this project that I have been developing for the last year. I’ve been passionate about this for 15 years. Kimono is my take on shapewear and solutions for women that actually work. I would always cut up my shapewear to make my own styles, and there have also been so many times I couldn’t find a shapeware color that blended with my skin tone so we needed a solution for all of this. The third pic is the solution short. I developed this style for all of those times I wanted to wear a dress or skirt with a slit and still needed the support. Introducing Kimono Solutionwear™ for every body. Coming Soon in sizes XXS – 4XL in 9 shades. I can’t wait for you to feel this fabric!#KimonoBody @kimono Photos by Vanessa Beecroft
Another day, another instance of Kardashian cultural appropriation. Honestly, are we even surprised at this point? In June, Kim announced that her new shapewear line—which she says has been in the works for a year—is named Kimono. Get it? Because her name’s Kim? *Laughs aggressively.* Someone on her team must have realized there would be major backlash to this (#KimOhNo started trending on Twitter), so maybe the (negative) attention was all part of their promotional plan? Either way, it’s not OK.
Presumably everyone knows kimonos are traditional Japanese garments with a complex and rich history, so it’s ridiculous for Kim—who is neither Japanese nor even East Asian—to be using, let alone profiting, off the term like this. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Kimono,” “Kimono Body,” “Kimono Intimates” and “Kimono World” are all pending Kardashian trademarks right now.
Too bad Kim doesn’t seem to get that. In a statement to the New York Times on June 27, Kim said, “I understand and have deep respect for the significance of the kimono in Japanese culture. And have no plans to design or release any garments that would in any way resemble or dishonor the traditional garment.” Does she have respect for it, though? Does she really? Because she also said, “I made the decision to name my company Kimono, not to disassociate the word from its Japanese roots but as a nod to the beauty and detail that goes into a garment.” Too bad she did just fully dissociate it from its roots. Kim continued to say that filing a trademark, “does not preclude or restrict anyone, in this instance, from making kimonos or using the word kimono in reference to the traditional garment,” which is quite literally the lowest bar possible.
Besides the name, people have been calling Kim out for not including larger models in the promotional pics, even though the line goes up to a 4XL and she claims it’s “for every body.” FACE PALM.
On July 1, Kim responded to the backlash with a lengthy Instagram post (of course). “When I announced the name of my shapewear line, I did so with the best intentions in mind,” reads the post. “My brands and products are built with inclusivity and diversity at their core and after careful thought and consideration, I will be launching my Solutionwear brand under a new name.”
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Being an entrepreneur and my own boss has been one of the most rewarding challenges I’ve been blessed with in my life. What’s made it possible for me after all of these years has been the direct line of communication with my fans and the public. I am always listening, learning and growing – I so appreciate the passion and varied perspectives that people bring to me. When I announced the name of my shapewear line, I did so with the best intentions in mind. My brands and products are built with inclusivity and diversity at their core and after careful thought and consideration, I will be launching my Solutionwear brand under a new name. I will be in touch soon. Thank you for your understanding and support always.
When Kendall was accused of wearing an afro
For a photo shoot with Vogue, Kendall wore what many people—even, in full disclosure, some editors here at FLARE—perceived to be an afro, with the magazine later issuing a statement claiming that the style was a riff on 19th century “Gibson Girl” hair, saying that it “didn’t mean to offend anyone.” Indeed, it appears that Kendall was wrongly accused; as Maiysha Kai notes on The Root, “textured hair does not an afro—or appropriation—make (because there are actually white folks who possess that texture, too).”
When Kim K considered being called “anorexic” a compliment
The Kardashians have a long history of promoting disordered eating (see: their penchant for taking money to promo appetite-suppressing lollipops and diet teas on Instagram), so we weren’t surprised by a recent exchange Kim posted to her IG stories. In the video, Kendall comments on Kim’s body saying, “No, I’m really concerned, I don’t think you’re eating. Like, you look so skinny.” Kim replies: “What?! Oh my God, thank you.” Khloé joins in, calling Kim’s waist “anorexic” and her arms “pin-thin,” which, to be clear, Khloé thinks looks “amazing.” The disturbing conversation glorifies disordered eating and unhealthy body standards. Say it with us, now, Kardashians: Being called “anorexic” is NOT a compliment. Oh, and also, sharing your weight—as Kim did in a later video, saying she’s “not that skinny”—can be incredibly triggering for people with eating disorders, so stop that too.
When Kim K defended her braids as “cultural inspiration”
Just weeks after attending the MTV Movie Awards in full Fulani braids, Kim responded to internet ire and calls of cultural appropriation by doubling down on her stance. Speaking on a panel at BeautyCon LA this weekend, the makeup mogul told the audience her desire to wear braids comes from a “real place of love and appreciation.”
“I’ve been fortunate to be able to travel around the world and see so many different cultures that have so many different beauty trends,” she said. And despite the backlash, Kim said of her braid-wearing ways: “I just think if it comes from a place of love and you’re using it as cultural inspiration, then I think it is okay.” However, many social media users seriously disagree, and seem to be getting tired of having the same argument over and over. “Are we gon talk about kim k’s cornrows or is cultural appropriation pointless to talk about anymore,” tweeted one user.
Here’s the kicker: During her appearance at BeautyCon, the mom of three also mentioned that it was her daughter North who helped her pick the braids, which Cosmo notes, is not the first time she’s used her four-year-old as a defence.
When Kim wore Fulani braids *again*
At this point, it’s pretty clear Kim knows what she’s doing and just gives no fucks. She’s already been called out before for appropriating Black hairstyles (see below), but that didn’t stop her from stepping out at the MTV Movie & TV Awards wearing Fulani braids.
When Kim sported “Bo Derek braids”
Back in February, Kim shared a vid of her new hair on Snapchat and said, “So guys I did Bo Derek braids, and I’m really into it,” referencing the actor Bo Derek who wore the hairstyle in the 1979 film 10. The reality star also posted several shots of her hair on Instagram, which drew lots of criticism from followers.
“They are called Fulani braids and Black women in Africa and America have been doing them longer than Bo Derek,” one commenter on Instagram wrote. Another replied to the pic saying, “I love you Kim, but please stop with the cultural appropriation. You have a LOT of fans that are Black, and it’s disappointing to see you attribute a Black hairstyle to a white woman.”
When Kim promoted her beauty collection and the internet called blackface
Her skin was definitely looking significantly darker…
When Kim compared herself to the Virgin Mary
Kim released a prayer candle on her Kimoji shop that depicted the reality star as the Virgin Mary. Yup, that’s right, Kim has compared herself to a biblical figure. Offended Catholics—and people who just know better—were quick to point out how disrespectful the candle is, and highlighted how sacred the Virgin Mary is in Catholicism. We’re betting Kim skipped most of her high school religion classes.
When Kendall saved the world with Pepsi
The now-pulled Pepsi commercial was so offensive for so many reasons, we’re shocked it even made it to air. Between trivializing Black Lives Matter to belittling police brutality, the ad was so wrong. The commercial shows Kendall modelling for a photo shoot when she notices a protest happening in the streets outside. Intrigued, the star joins the protestors—many of whom are people of colour—who are holding signs that feature vague slogans like, “Join the conversation” and “Peace.” After grabbing a Pepsi from a cooler, Kendall notices that angry-looking police are blocking the protestors. She hands a cop a Pepsi—a moment captured by a Muslim photographer wearing a hijab—and, like magic, the officer smiles. Success! Kendall has saved the day. The offending scene appears like it could have been modelled on the well-known photo of Ieshia Evans, a Black woman who stood peacefully before police during a protest in Baton Rouge, La., last year.
When Kim Snapchatted about minimum wage
Earlier this year, Kim posted a Snapchat of a poster that read, “You can’t have a million dollar dream with a minimum wage work ethic.” It was classist garbage and we got real annoyed by it.
When Kim and Kanye played “middle-class”
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In January 2017, the power couple were accused of “playing middle-class” in some lo-fi family photos.
When Khloé wore a headdress… twice
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Khloé posed for pics in a Indigenous headdress at North West’s first b-day bash in 2014, which was themed “Kidchella.”
She also wore a headdress around the house while making out with a stuffed giraffe and filming Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Ugh, take a history lesson, Khlo.
When Kylie Wore cornrows
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When Kylie posted a pic of her hair in cornrows, people were not impressed. The Hunger Games actor Amandla Stenberg responded to Jenner’s post by pointing out that she was appropriating Black culture while failing to empower Black Americans. That didn’t change her mind, though, as she still wears braids and sisters Khloé and Kim frequently sport the style, too.
When Khloé posed by the Fidel Castro monument in Cuba
Social media users fired back at the reality star, calling her uneducated and pointing out how many people suffered under the Castro dictatorship. One commentator said, “I guess Fidel is cool now? …. Ignorance or stupidity? I can’t decide.” Again, TAKE A HISTORY LESSON, KHLO!
When Kylie’s skin was darkened
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People accused the 19-year-old of blackface, to which she replied “calm down,” and said her darkened skin tone was due to lighting. Sort of missing the point, Kylie.
When Scott tried to be funny?
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We can’t even.
This Is What Happens When You Kross a Kardashian
Anne T. Donahue on the Pepsi Implosion: Where’s Kendall’s Apology?
An Open Letter to Kim K, re: The Sexy Lie