Written by:Ali DiEmidio
Sourced exclusively from MISSBISH.com, used with permission.
It’s hard to keep up with Kylie Jenner. For a girl who was born into reality TV fame and whose famous lips have acquired her sixty million Instagram followers, Jenner is inescapable online, always front row (be it a fashion show or a Lakers game), and is now even in bed with Burger King chicken fries (is nothing sacred?). Consuming any form of media means regularly coming across her millionaire mug, royally beat beneath a colorful wig. She’s an influencer – self-appointed, sales confirmed, and media approved – but that word doesn’t seem to encapsulate Jenner’s breadth of power. Her own line of Kylie Cosmeticslipsticks sell out in minutes; simply dropping the names of her “favorite” beauty products on social media induces a fan frenzy; her hair colors and styles are replicated by girls worldwide only hours after she’s shared them. All of this seems to be on par for a celebrity who has made TIME’s “Most Influential Teens” list for the past two years in a row, but we have a sneaking suspicion that there may be an undertone of jest in Jenner’s behavior; a “how far can I push this?” attitude that only a member of America’s Royal Family could afford to exercise (albeit for a very adolescent and impressionable audience). The youngest member of the Kardashian family endures her fair share of public heckling like most Hollywood figures, but with a proven track record of turning social mentions into money, it might be Jenner who has the last laugh.
No matter how you feel about the Kardashian family, there’s one thing that can’t be argued: those ladies know how to make money. Following the lead of her elder sisters, Jenner is business-minded and already peddling a dizzying amount of products. There are the endorsements that should come as no surprise: a line of hair extensions (via Bellami) and nail polish (via Sinful Colors), an ever-expanding line of lip kits (not news to any girl with a pulse), a top selling app and video game, clothing lines with sister Kendall sold at retailers like PacSunand TopShop, not to mention her newest brand ambassadorship for PUMA. We can also bet with confidence that the ask for baby tattoos from young girls in the past year has soared. And then there are the more troubling ones, like butt and breast enhancement pills, waist trainers and anti-wrinkle cream. Without waxing lyrical on the state of female youth and feminism today, suffice it to say that these sponsorships are all a bit concerning; for a teen to have an attraction to body-altering supplements at such a young age is a scary thought, particularly for this influential youngster with such an eager-to-imitate audience. And these are just to name a few.
What’s most interesting here is not that Jenner endorses so many things – her MOMager always makes sure that the funds will continue to flow – but that some of these endorsements contradict each other and seemingly Jenner’s own interests as well. Her PUMA partnership was unexpected from the jump. In addition to an alleged seven-figure paycheck, the deal must also include an incredibly lax exclusivity clause, as Jenner still posts photos of herself in her stellar Jordan collection (interspersed with adidas and Converse shots for good measure). Also taking into consideration that her famous brother-in-law has a clothing line with adidas and has publicly voiced that she would never sign with PUMA (insert foot in mouth), this partnership comes off as largely ill-suited. Alongside a plethora of other female celebs, Jenner is also guilty of the incredibly unpopularFit Tea endorsements. Public opinion on this specific endorsement paired with her recently shared disinterested view on cleanses/detoxes leaves us again with a lingering taste of inauthenticity. And while on the topic of shamefaced behavior, we’re just going to leave these little pieces of self-indulgent twaddle right here(and here)…
If you are one of her millions of Instagram followers (and we know you are), you might have noticed the recent peppering of Von Dutchhats, jackets and combos into her clothing lineup. Hopefully, we don’t need to remind you of the Era of Von Dutch (as we well know, the early 2000s were not exactly the height of fashion), but are these strange endorsements some kind of weird, enigmatic moment of nostalgia? After all, Jenner isn’t exactly known for her sense of irony. Enter the self-proclaimed “King of the Youth,” style muse Ian Connor; the arrival of Von Dutch – plus mom jeans, vintage sportswear and all the Supreme box logo tees a girl could dream of – into Jenner’s wardrobe is no doubt due to his influence. He’s also most likely responsible for the appearance of “Gosha Kylie,” the streetwear alter ego she coined for herself in thisInstagram shot (and in reference to the so-hot-right-now Russian streetwear designer Gosha Rubchinskiy, whose shirt she is wearing in the photo).Supreme, Vetements, VFILES, and up-and-coming brand Midnight Studios are all some of our favorites, but this shift from resembling a mini Kim Kardashian to giving Aleali May a run for her money has happened quickly and without transition. Could it just be another idea that Jenner is testing out on the public? Von Dutch is also most likely an inside joke between Jenner and Connor, the man who, among other things, has also tried to usher Skechers (unsuccessfully) into the limelight.
In the lucrative world of celebrity product marketing, a genuine interest in the product or brand being endorsed is necessary for the partnership to appear credible (Queen Bey would probably not rock Lululemon in public, for example). Jenner appears to be the exception to this rule, a cog in the waning wheel of honest marketing. She legit launches products and people, whether intentional or not. Her repeated endorsement of musician Bryson Tiller’s “Don’t,” featured via lip-syncing on her Snapchat, has lifted the Kentucky rapper’s profile way up. Her social praise of things like Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion and a certain black bandeau bikini – and also inadvertently a $400 USD Fendi Pom-Pom Bag Charm that her dog was casually chewing – resulted in quite a large uptick in sales for these brands. We’d be willing to bet that, after all of her recent Coachella snaps, the brand Discount Universe also saw a huge rise in sales (or at least Google searches and social followers) that they maybe didn’t see with celebs like Jenner BFF Justine Skye or even Miley Cyrus (before she totally ripped them off). The internet has actually accused Jenner of stealing her recent festival look from an Australian blogger, but let’s be honest, does it really matter? Jenner doesn’t necessarily need to be first, she just needs to be photographed.
Lately Jenner’s face has graced the cover of multiple magazines, which have all included one-on-one interviews riddled with slip ups. Ever the thoughtful speaker, in her Interview Magazine interview Jenner was quoted to say, “I honestly hate wearing makeup. Lately, I’ve just been so over it. I feel like I’m way too young to wear such heavy makeup all the time.” Quite the fumble from the founder of a burgeoning beauty empire (and from someone whose daily beauty routine has been proven to be incredibly time-consuming). Speaking of missteps, we can’t forget the Marie Claire “Fresh Faces 2016”cover interview, where Jenner ruffled some feathers when she claimed that she “started wigs,” a thoughtless faux pas for which she has received some serious backlash. “I started wigs, and now everyone is wearing wigs… I just do whatever I want to do, and people will follow.” Err… maybe she was just having an off day? In another recent cover story for Paper Magazine, Jenner maintained this heedless attitude while addressing her influencer status. “It’s really crazy. I never really think about it until I’ll do a hair color and then I’ll see all my fans in the same hair color. It’s just crazy how much influence I have. It’s cool.” This is at the same time hopelessly true and a scary actuality that should probably be taken more seriously.
If there’s anything that the success of endeavors like Kylie Cosmetics or Jenner’s eBay auctions have proven, it’s her fans’ fawning behavior. But Jenner’s influence has also spurred darker action from her rabid followers, who possess a strong desire to be closer to and even resemble her at whatever the cost. This is exemplified by things like the dangerous Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge, where fans would suck on shot glasses in an attempt to accomplish the lip plumping effect. With teens worldwide distorting their lips and oftentimes bruising and bleeding, as a result, Kylie eventually spoke out, Tweeting that she wasn’t trying to encourage young girls to copy her lips or her looks. But with the repeated success of her cosmetics line – an achievement spurred by her aggressive fandom and their desire to recreate her pout – this copycat behavior seems to be essential to her profit margin.
Yet with the focus always on her celebrity behavior, it’s possible that maybe sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. Maybe Jenner is just a teenager – albeit a super rich and famous teenager – and like most careless adolescents is prone to say and socialize things on a whim. When Jenner stated that she doesn’t like makeup, maybe, on that day, she didn’t. When she claimed that she started wigs, maybe she was a bit distracted by her own reflection in a nearby mirror and didn’t realize the gravity of her comment. And just maybe, as a teen, Jenner is experimenting with her influence and is too young (and probably too rich) to have to personally deal with many of the repercussions. So while we don’t doubt that some of her posts are genuine, we also don’t doubt that Jenner is no stranger to posting inauthentically, and with a smile, waiting to see how quickly it will trend on Twitter or sell out of stock.
“I only show people what I want them to see,” Jenner said in her just released Glamour UK cover story. This admission is an important one. To the public eye, Jenner appears to air her entire life on social media, and since she socially documents so much of her day, it’s hard to imagine that she’s leaving anything out. Or rather, there isn’t time to think of what she might not be sharing because we’re all preoccupied trying to navigate through the surplus of content that she has already circulated. If that’s the case, then maybe the biggest joke is on us after all. Seeing that we collectively take her social posts, interview quotes, and photos all at face value when it’s really just a façade, maybe we’re the ones who deserve to be jeered. And if Jenner is indeed laughing, you can bet it’s all the way to the bank.