Like great responsibility so often is, Kylie Jenner was thrust upon me when I least expected it but was most prepared. I had recently rejoined Snapchat, clear-eyed and story-fatigue free, when a friend suggested that I follow her.
I was not into Kylie Jenner. I did not know about her lip injections or her dog who looks like the teacher from Arthur. I did not know who Tyga was. I was never into Keeping Up With the Kardashians, so I don’t have the weird aunt complex that makes dedicated consumers of specific TV shows feel like they have watched the youngest characters grow up. Still, I did as my friend prompted and followed “kylizzlemynizzl” (please.), mostly to change the subject.
One of the first things I remember learning about in my high school psychology class was the mere-exposure effect, or the familiarity principle. It’s where you start to like something — even if you were previously indifferent or averse to it — because you see it all the time. It used to confuse me because there was one person who I passed frequently in the hallway and I’m pretty sure that only made me dislike her more and more each day. But it also explained how Seth Cohen could ever become friends with Luke Ward and how Ryan Atwood eventually fell for Taylor Townsend. Years later, it would explain how I became a very real Kylie Jenner fan.
Every morning, as part of my daily effort to make myself late the gym, I opened Jenner’s snap story before anyone else’s. Rather than jolt myself into a streak of voyeuristic social anxiety by starting the day off with a recap of an ex-hookup’s new girlfriend’s super fun birthday party, I found it soothing to watch this stranger sing R&B without blinking or letting her jaw move. (I also found a lot of new music this way.) I admired her long nails and how she made multiple excuses to show them off to the camera — it reminded me of the first time I ever got French tips, how I kept raising my hand dramatically in class and pointing at things unnecessarily. I thought it was crazy that she had her own house at age eighteen. I thought it was crazy how, despite that (and everything else) she actually seemed kind of normal. Or at least like she was being authentic. I found her slow, sleepy voice mesmerizing and really appreciated the fact that she didn’t require an audience to talk. I thought it was cool that she was so into her face and body. And filters. Her whole Snapchat is a study in feeling yourself. She’s always about her makeup, her outfit, her hair, her stomach. Narcissistic admiration is obnoxious but it’s also a very real self-esteem skill.
The longer I watched, the more familiar I got. I loved it when friends would show up at her house, like, “Oh! We have company!” It was so fun when Kris would make an appearance. Hi Kim, hi Khloe. I began to notice when key players weren’t popping up as much as usual (so long, Pia Mia), which added a bit of drama to Kylie and my otherwise repetitious schedule. Once the Lip Kits started rolling out, I felt like I was among the first hundred billion to know.
The main reason I decided that I love Kylie (one year later, still watching) is because there really isn’t much to dissect. She puts so much out there that the mystery is gone — personally and sartorially; in terms of diet and home decor. We know what she looks like with makeup, without makeup, in the morning, at night. It’s kind of like being married to someone? Except there’s no deeper meaning — which is okay. We have enough overreaching think pieces on the internet for an entire generation. Not everything is a conspiracy; not every celebrity requires a deep dive. Sometimes, for a lack of headache’s sake, I think its okay to wade in the shallow end. If nothing else, it’s entertaining.
And to be clear: she knows what she’s doing.