Kim Kardashian-West’s recent announcement of her plans to become an attorney have sent social media into a frenzy of memes and opinionated commentary. Fans around the world gave their support to the media and makeup mogul while others mocked and doubted the Kardashian.
Her plans were revealed in a recent Vogue cover story, where Kardashian-West explained that she would be doing a four year law apprenticeship with lawyers from #cut50, a Dream Corps initiative focused on equity in the criminal justice system. Kardashian-West will study throughout the time of her apprenticeship and then go on to take the California State Bar exam.
The reality TV star’s news shocked many, as studying law seemed to be out of Kardashian-West’s typical wheelhouse. However, the negative responses also brings up a deeper question to society — can “pretty’ women be ‘smart”? This is of course a simplified way of exploring the roles and capabilities that society sees women in and how their appearance impacts this.
Most people’s first reaction to the question posed before would be “yes,” but traditional stereotypes and common narratives don’t always align with our intended values or even common sense. For instance, one could say that it is common sense to know that someone’s physical appearance doesn’t equate to brain power. But everyday, people still continue to judge the capabilities, worth and intelligence of others based on what they see.
Common stereotypes and tropes of the “pretty” or “popular” girl is that she is all looks and no brain, lacking any real moral and philosophical standing, with only her appearance to worry about. Kardashian-West is no exception to this idea — in fact, the Kardashian’s have become a global symbol of popularity and beauty.
The empire that the Kardashian’s have built has been primarily due to their looks and makeup, prompting many to associate them with only these things. This also makes it much easier for people to assume that Kardashian-West lacks any intelligence, talent, or hard skills. It makes her pursuit of becoming a lawyer a joke in the eyes of those who don’t see her as a capable or serious woman.
But I’m here to tell you that one can study hard and still wear fake eyelashes, fake nails, or lipstick. Just because someone is interested in makeup and beauty doesn’t mean that they aren’t intellectual or interested in other topics. This assumption is harmful as it perpetuates sexist gender norms, which can limit the potential of people.
Kardashian-West’s pursuit of a legal career should be praised rather than mocked. Her intentions to use her power and platform to help others is an honorable goal, and people should encourage her and others to do the same.
We need to stop sending mixed messages to our society and our youth about what it means to be a girl, what it means to be pretty, and what it means to be smart. Instead of discouraging and limiting each other based off of old stereotypes, let’s encourage everyone to reach their potential and pursue all of their dreams.