Eliza Levinson on a Met Gala picture worth 1,000 blogs.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Kim and this picture meant something to me. That’s probably why it turned into a meme so fast and lost its poignance; its novel absurdity blunted by ubiquity.
This picture feels like the duality of being a woman and being seen – the gorgeous glamour, red carpet stunting, versus the desire to erase your body one part at a time. It feels like what it feels like to be a sister: closeness, comparison, envy, competition, admiration, pain. Just before this appearance Kim came out in another full-body covering, a leather bodysuit. Kim, what are you hiding from?
I cared about Kim forever: her eczema and her pregnancies and her massive glass jars full of untouched Skittles, the marble floors in her Calabasas homes. When E! played time-lapse footage of traffic on Ventura Boulevard I could practically taste the fumes.
If you care about a celebrity there’s some need to demonstrate the uniqueness of your fandom, as if to say, I’m different from other fans, which is impossible because fandom is being one of a million, cheering for the person who’s one in a million. Reality TV is different.
If you’re famous on reality TV you’re famous for being rich, or famous for being funny, or famous for being nasty, but not famous for being talented, because if you were talented you wouldn’t have to be on reality TV to be famous. Ergo, one does not need to be one in a million to be a famous reality TV star. Ergo, because of reality TV’s dubious claim to represent reality and its spotlight on caricature, our day-to-day lives are refracted back to us warped and exaggerated like a funhouse mirror. As in a horror movie, the shock value of reality TV illuminates what we find offensive, aspirational, and attractive.
When Kim married Kanye, her style changed from cheesy, rich Valley Girl to chic Balenciaga neutrals and High Art red carpet statement pieces. The Kardashians didn’t need us anymore, in as much as any high-profile celebrity doesn’t “need” the public, but we still needed them to project our feelings onto.
I love when Kim futilely gestures toward invisibility; the obviousness of her ambivalence. Hidden Valley Girl. Like Shia LaBoeuf wearing the paper bag over his head, dancing with the paparazzi: I am not famous anymore. Kim’s exaggerated figure is recognizable even in silhouette.
I love wondering if Kim isn’t even under that schmatta in the first place; if someone else, wearing carefully-placed padding, is there breathing heavily behind that black cotton at an hourly rate while Kim lies reading Sally Rooney in a golden bubble bath. —By Eliza Levinson