Fashyawn

The Appeal of Kendall Jenner

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I’ve already mounted various defenses against Kimye-hatred. Recently, in lieu of those arguments, I find myself protecting Kendall Jenner, the doe-eyed younger sister of Kim et al. who has almost literally taken the modeling world my storm, upending her reality TV reputation with every on-point move she makes (or, more accurately, she’s given).

It seems that every week she has stepped up one more wrung of the grossly exclusive fashion-world latter, first with coveted opening spots during fashion week, next with her presence in some serious ad campaigns (girl ain’t shilling Candies no’ mo), and now—proving that her star’s ascension has essentially NO boundaries—as a face of Estée Lauder and starring in her first solo spread for Vogue. Let it be known, if you’re not a fash-hoe like me, that models think of an Estée Lauder or Lancome campaign as the ultimate ‘get,’ the closest thing to a ‘be all and end all’ in the fickle modeling landscape. I’m sure plenty of those models are writhing in disgust at the thought that some Hollywood-coddled reality-TV-star-gone-rogue was granted a ‘pass’ on their own years worth of modeling experience and given the trophy in a matter of months. I don’t blame them, really.

But I do applaud this little lady, nonetheless. I applaud her even if she’s beautiful and wealthy and managed by a savvy team that others would kill to have nurturing their careers. And why, exactly? I found myself mulling this over a bowl of honey nut cheerio’s this AM. Why does my girl power index nearly explode at the mention of the youngest Kardashian? It can’t simply be my affinity for the family at large or my constant need to protect those who are hated by most to gross extremes.

One small sliver, admittedly, is that she’s—by all accounts—healthy. This is as rare in the modeling landscape as finding a sliver of the moon on your doorstep. I could be living a monstrous lie (monstrous lending this situation far more weight than it deserves) but she lacks the sallow skin and uber-bony physique of every other skinny thing that snags the fashion world’s attention. And hey, she seemed to eat a lot of non-diet foods on her TV show without it affecting her figure. She strikes me as the type of model who doesn’t go around defending herself with “I eat like so many cheeseburgers” when cheeseburgers are a stand in for nuts and seeds. She posts Instagram videos of her workouts and she looks truly strong, not bleary-eyed and hungry. While her body continues to idealize all things thin, at least perhaps it’s truly genetic (with a dose of the gym).

But like I said, that’s a small part of my pseudo-shield. More than that it’s my annoyance with people’s fallback mode of “she’s pretty, let’s hate her,” a phenomenon that I’ve probably both taken part in, had happen to me on the rare occasion, and mainly saw happen to some stunner friends growing up. It’s gross, it’s ironically shallow, and it hurts. We often think that hatred towards the wonderfully-physiqued is okay because, well, WONDERFUL PHYSIQUES make up for everything. Experience tells me they don’t—that outside aggression can hurt even the slopiest-nosed, fluttery-eyed folk of the world. Which is not to say that I think my tiny little defense is proverbially wiping KJ’s tears late at night—I doubt she’s even crying. It’s more about getting people to rethink why they get so riled up by some lithe young woman who’s really, really killing it.

Whatever we hate says a lot more about us than our targets—we know this by now, or should. As a person who spent a lot of time cuddling up to negative feelings stemmed by sheer jealousy, I guess I believe that stopping that jealousy in it’s tracks when seen in other people is a worthwhile pursuit. If you’re doing it to a stranger, you’re probably doing it to people in your actual orbit, too. Perhaps, my defense is trying to say, you should check yourself. Get off your angry little stool, look Kendall’s Vogue spread in the Burberry’d face and realize: shit, she’s pretty and successful and I’m overcome by my own inadequacy but HEY…good for her, I’m going to spare myself the rage and move on, all flawed and okay.

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