The Plastics

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I should be studying for my upcoming GRE. Instead, I have spent the last hour and half watching a YouTube video on dirty money and fame. It is about the Kardashians.

Growing up, I used to be obsessed with the Kardashians. I used to watch their show (including all spin-offs) religiously (except when my mother was around, because it wasn’t allowed). I don’t know what it is about that family, but everything they do is addictive. I saw an episode of the ‘Late Late Night Show‘ recently which had on Kendall Jenner as a guest, and that specific episode was being hosted by her ex-boyfriend Harry Styles. In one of the segments (I think the one where they either have to answer controversial questions or eat some ‘disgusting’ food item) Kendall asks Harry if he ever saw Keeping Up with the Kardashians. He replies by saying, yeah he did, the one where they all sit around eating salads talking about something inane. Kendall jokingly replied to this by saying that is essentially what happens in each episode, and so if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. True. That is all they do. At least I thought so.

In the video I saw today (Part 1 and Part 2), the creator talks about how the Kardashians have bullied themselves into being famous. As in, actually bullied themselves on screen for the many insecurities modern society has taught women to have and made money off of it. I thought that was a brilliant way to talk about it. I remember, even as a kid, how many times they would reference beauty standards. Kris constantly (even till date) bullied her daughters about their weight, their skin, what procedures they should get done – all on camera. These are things all of us think about – at least I do. Admittedly, our obsession with these things has increased with the growth of the Kardashians, but it is kind of like a self-perpetuating vicious cycle. They talk about it because they know a lot of people are insecure about it, then they have the money to get it done, which in turn changes the goal post for the beauty standard every single time, making all their viewers even more insecure.

There was one bit in the video that really got me. There is a part where the video insinuates that Kim’s famous Paris robbery was staged. He doesn’t say this directly, but the facts, as they are presented, seem to point to this conclusion. Apparently she was seen to be wearing jewellery she claimed had been stolen a couple of months after the incident (Kim says it is a fake, but I don’t think that convinced anyone). Also, the entire incident – including the robber’s viewpoint – was commercialised within a year. The guy who kidnapped her has a book out in case any of you want to check it out. This seems to be the norm with that family though. They generate controversy because that is what sells. At every point when the show hasn’t been doing too well, they always come up with something. The 72 day wedding, the Tristan – Jordan scandal, the robbery…the list goes on. I’m just fascinated by their capacity to lie. I read somewhere that Kris made sure Kylie got pregnant before the launch of ‘Kylie Baby’. I don’t know if that is true (and I hope it isn’t) but I wouldn’t put it past them. Because if you can lie about such things, I’m sure lying about the smaller things – like how natural your body or skincare routine is seems like small-fry.

And the thing is, they do lie. They have entire businesses based on beauty products to make us look like them (which is the ideal I hear). But none of those are used by them. They’ve constructed their bodies artificially, and continue to lie about it. Isn’t that awful when you stop to think about it? The shamelessness of it. And ok, that is one level of it, where they convince you to buy their products in order to try and look like them (even if all of us know it is a lie). The other thing is the rise in the popularity of plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. There are entire procedures named after the Kardashian sisters. The BBL is now one of the most popular plastic surgeries in the world, even though it is also one of the most dangerous ones. I see that body type – the one inspired by Kim and her sisters – all over my social media feed. If I’m being honest, I feel like my entire content is saturated with images of people trying to look like the Kardashians, who in turn end up looking exactly like each other and nothing like a natural person. Sad, really.

I’m not even saying the really mean things I want to say right now because it wouldn’t be fair. I’ve wanted to, at some point or the other, get those exact procedures done – and the inclination has increased a lot in the last few years. I’m not used to being someone who obsesses over how they look most of the times. Yeah, sure, I enjoy looking good and I have fun when I get compliments. But that is a once in a few months’ event. When I feel like putting in the effort. There are things I never used to think about that have become an almost instinctual reaction to seeing my face nowadays. Like my eyebrows. I constantly think about how much nicer they would look if I could just get them lifted a bit (I think it is called a brow lift, and this is the procedure you get if you want the foxy eyed look popularised by Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid – both of whom claim, I think untruthfully, that it is natural). I’ve started stretching skin under my jawline to see how I might look if I got my jaw re-shaped a bit recently. I know I won’t get anything done – mostly because I am scared to death of needles and my mom – but it still alarms me – the frequency with which I consider going under the knife when I have nothing better to think about.

And apparently, this is how it works. Mass manipulation that is modern advertising. If you are constantly told something is desirable, you can’t help but want it. Like diamonds. They have no inherent value, and were never considered a precious material. That was of course, till the DeBeers stepped in and declared to the world that diamonds are forever. No looking back then. That is how they were advertised and that is how they are treated. The same thing is happening in the beauty industry – and at the helm of it all are the unnaturally made, carefully calculated Kardashians. Seriously, if you have any free time today, check the video out. I guarantee it’ll be worth your while. Meanwhile, I’m going to try to stop obsessing over the many plastic surgery procedures I absolutely do not need.