After releasing a lip-kit that sold out in under a minute, Kylie Jenner has come under fire once again for offending a community that is majorly unrepresented in the fashion industry. Interview Magazine’s Dec. 2015 issue features Jenner posing in a wheelchair, bound by leather and wearing a dominatrix-esque outfit. Critics have slammed Interview for having an able-bodied individual use a wheelchair when actual models in the industry are unable to get jobs for this exact reason.
There are many problems with this entire situation. First, Interview is not apologizing for this cover, instead validating their artistic direction by saying that it is simply a “bold vision.” They use the cliché that they “didn’t mean to offend anyone,” but you cannot erase what you have done. Also, they take full responsibility for the photographs, which is interesting because it is almost as if Jenner had no say in her photo shoot, which is a prime example of how “she’s an object of the media,” which is the underlying theme Interview wanted to project.
Moreover, Jenner has many privileges to her name: she’s white, cis-gendered, wealthy and able-bodied. By posing in a wheelchair, she is appropriating disability for the sake of high-fashion.
I am sad for Jenner because the wheelchair controversy is completely overshadowing the content of her article. What many neglect to see is that if she finally gets up on a pedestal, abandons her online persona and tries to change her image by saying she is normal, she wants to be even more normal and is just doing this “celebrity thing” for fun. I agree with Interview’s statement that she has become an “object of vast media scrutiny” but Jenner is trying to change that.
The interview itself is a very interesting read, with Jenner making some really poignant and deep statements about herself. For one, she admits that her Snapchat and Instagram image is inflated and “flashier” than who she is. Surprisingly, she has a solid understanding that her fans want “cars and purses,” but she also acknowledges “that’s so not me.”
She then goes into how her wealth is great and all, but she doesn’t find happiness “within materialistic things,” which is surprising to hear from Jenner. This entire time I assumed Jenner was solely defined by her wealth and did not care about much else, but she actually wants more. She repeatedly states that she wants to be a businesswoman, have a successful makeup line and be an entrepreneur. But then she reveals that she wants to go off the map when she is about 30, “live in Malibu with a farm and just raise [her] own chickens.”
Overall, I still have a lot of problems with Jenner. As someone with such a large media presence, she doesn’t do much with it. She occasionally stops by a children’s hospital to donate toys but she is not really helping anyone out or doing anything substantial with her image. I am not saying that she has an obligation to donate her life’s savings to a third-world country, but it would be nice to see her take her fame and do something good with it.
However, this article sheds light on the fact that Jenner did not exactly want this lifestyle in the first place. After spending half of her life in front of a camera, I do not blame her for not knowing what else to do, but she admits that she has normal dreams and wants to be out of the spotlight eventually. She just wants to take her image and profit off it for the time being. Maybe she is thinking about how beauty fades and how her extensions will not be mint green forever, but it is admirable that she thinks about the future and just wants to be a person.
So shame on Jenner for appropriating disabilities in order to be relevant in modern media. But good job Jenner for dispelling the rumors that your personality is as plastic as Kim’s butt.