Written by Sophie Milrom
The end of March marked two pop culture milestones: Vogue released its April cover featuring Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, and the season 3 finale of GIRLS aired on HBO. Reading the coverage of these events led me to the realization that Kim and Lena have a lot in common. Just like the opposite of love isn’t hate (it’s indifference), the opposite of perfectly manicured glamour is apparently not unfiltered realism.
I also found myself wanting to defend them. Here are some of their similarities and why I think we should cut them a break:
1) They deal with a lot of criticism.
My mom always said that if I had nothing nice to say, I should keep my mouth shut. From time to time everyone finds themselves being judgmental, but being mean for the sake of being mean is really mean. Criticizing someone’s body falls into that category of unkind, especially if that person is pregnant.
As far as I’m aware, neither Kim nor Lena has done anything illegal, unethical or immoral. These are two people just being themselves and doing their jobs. If they’re not your cup of tea, tune them out. If either of them shows up at your door screaming “WHY ARE YOU IGNORING ME?” then go ahead and give a little constructive criticism.
2) They were controversially on the cover of Vogue.
I’m more of a Vanity Fair girl myself, but a highly regarded publication embracing women who don’t fit the mold to a T is probably a good thing. From Lena’s body type to Kim’s interracial relationship, there are some positive messages here. I like the idea of children not having to give up their dreams because of who they love or what they look like.
3) They are dating musicians.
I am a huge fan of Kanye West. Don’t know much about Lena Dunham’s boyfriend, but he’s probably awesome too.
4) They are self-made.
Kim Kardashian and Lena Dunham represent, at least to a degree, the American Dream: wanting to become something and then achieving it to a level of astronomical success.
What they chose to become or how they were able to achieve it is not my problem. Chris Rock said about gay men in the military: “if they want to fight, let ‘em fight, cause I ain’t fightin!” If Kim Kardashian wants to spend her time filming commercials for weight-loss pills, and Lena Dunham is willing to portray awkward sex scenes, let them… Because I’m not gonna.
5) They star in TV shows.
I know, I know, “it’s not TV, its HBO,” but just go with me here for argument’s sake.
6) They’ve both shared the spotlight with their clique.
I’ve always suspected that Kim Kardashian is a nice person. This was based on very few data points, the most salient being that she shared the spotlight with her family and didn’t seem to resent them rising to fame alongside her.
Lena’s own family starred in her film Tiny Furniture, and she cast her childhood friend Jemima Kirke in GIRLS. She seems like a real cheerleader for her friends and castmates.
7) They are just doing their jobs.
Aren’t we all? Being mad at Lena Dunham for writing something potentially controversial or Kim Kardashian for overexposing herself is like being mad at the Panera salesman that your sandwich costs seven dollars more than it should.
8) They are provocative.
9) They represent truths about society and ourselves, whether we like it or not.
Kim Kardashian’s fame is a symptom, not the cause, of the rise of consumerism and self-promotion in society. She may be capitalizing on it, but that’s her prerogative.
In contrast, Lena Dunham is criticized for her lack of fabrication. Instead of being glossy and aspirational, GIRLS portrays things that are real and uncomfortable in our own lives (imperfect bodies, dysfunctional relationships, romantic and professional missteps). She certainly didn’t invent humans being human.
Kim and Lena represent things that make some people uncomfortable and upset, but exist whether you like it or not. If a market exists, someone is going to address it.
10) They are both huge fans of Man Repeller.
Speculative, but possible.
For the record: I watch GIRLS but not Keeping Up with the Kardashians; however, I proudly follow Scott Disick on Instagram.