I don’t get why there is backlash to one but not the other.
How is the Kardashian empire different from Victoria’s Secret? And why is everyone panning VS as being out of step with women’s sexuality while raving about the Kardashian’s use of sex to build their business and their influencer status?
I have written about the impact of culture shift on Victoria’s Secret previously. Personally, never been a fan of the brand. It’s kind of trashy but no more so than anything the Kardashians put out so I am curious why nobody is talking about the double standard being applied here.
For those of you who may not be up on this, the NY Times recently ran a major puff piece on the Kardashians, gushing about their business savvy. The article ran with the above picture (lower left). It struck me as being not unlike a Victoria’s Secret shoot (above left, top). From my perspective, they’re both working the sex angle and yet one is considered forward-looking and on-trend and one is not.
From the NY Times:
- A conversation with the Kardashians is like a “masterclass in monetizing influence.”
- The Kardashians are entrepreneurs with an influence and reach perhaps second only to the reality TV star in the Oval Office.
- They are unabashedly materialistic but empowered women who also care deeply about achieving the perfect smoky eye.
- Regardless of what you think of what the Kardashians are selling, their never-ending hustle is an undeniable lesson in female entrepreneurship.
- You have to admire that Kris and Kim leveraged a sex tape into entertainment gold and a platform so powerful that Kim has visited the White House.
So while the Kardashians’ use of sex makes them brilliant, empowered business women, poor old Victoria’s Secret gets the shaft from the NY Times (5 months ago):
- A vision of sexy from the ’90’s, complete with push-up bras, thongs and strappy stilettos… women are abandoning this sexist Victoria’s Secret ……
Hmmm….really? All I can say is not so fast here. They might be abandoning VS but they’re clearly not foregoing brands built on sexist imagery.
Read on below for more on the Kardashian vs. VS face-off.
The difference in attitude toward the Kardashians vs. Victoria’s Secret seemingly comes down to the fact that the Kardashians are self-made women and therefore they have our permission to be as tacky and trashy as they want.
Or it could be that their business is organized around a matriarchy (Kris Jenner as madam of the House of Kardashian) versus a patriarchy? In other words, if they elect to expose their cleavage, butt or any other body part, it’s their decision and they’re making the big bucks from doing it. It’s not going to the man. No matter what you think about the Kardashians, their money-making prowess is impressive with 21-year old Kylie Jenner just named the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.
The VS Angels, on the other hand, are seen as “pimped out” by the patriarchy. Even though they are supermodels making millions of dollars, they have to do, and wear, what the patriarchy (their pimps) tell them.
But just to make things a bit murkier, Kendall Jenner (one of the younger Kardashians) is also the highest paid supermodel. She made $23 million in 2018, half of which came from Victoria’s Secret! It’s mind-boggling when you think about all the ways the Kardashian fortunes are linked to Victoria’s Secret. Those Kardashians have clearly taken their own “master-class” from the brand that was all the rage as they were growing up.
Once you get beyond the double standard and hypocrisy of it all, the Kardashians are just updated versions of VS. The big mistake Victoria’s Secret made was in not recognizing the extent of their influence and scooping them up as partners early on. Imagine having the Kardashian Instagram-influencer machine as an in-house resource? It could have been an absolute game-changer for Victoria’s Secret!