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I don’t follow Kim Kardashian on Instagram. No, I’m not saying that as though it should be something shocking. That’s something people do a lot these days. GASP, I don’t follow Kim Kardashian on Instagram. GASP, I’ve never used Tinder. GASP, I don’t have a Kindle. Congratulations. You’re resisting the 2014-ness of 2014. Maybe that’s a great thing; maybe you’re just making a conscious effort at being obsolete.
The fact of the matter is, though, that Kim Kardashian’s Instagram is an important feature of social media interaction in the United States. Yes, that was a painful sentence to write. Tear me apart, critics—I welcome it, because I hope I’m wrong. The thing is, though, that Kim K doesn’t post anything on her Instagram account that, say, Beyoncé wouldn’t post. @kimkardashian is full of flattering photoshopped photos of a rich, famous woman’s seemingly glamorous life. That description could be just as easily applied to @badgalriri @taylorswift, @katyperry, and literally countless other media-savvy celebrities.
Why, then, is Kim Kardashian’s account the only one I roll my eyes at? And, at the same time, why is it the only one of those accounts that doesn’t feel like a second-thought thing? Kim K’s Instagram isn’t as pseudo-approachable as Swift’s, or as I-don’t-give-a-damn crazy as Miley’s. It’s something else. Taylor Swift has made a career out of being approachable; Miley Cyrus has redefined her career as a series of I-don’t-give-a-damn events. These Instagram accounts make sense, because they reflect on already-existing bodies of work. They’re consistent with these bodies of work. Even Rihanna’s username, @badgalriri, is a direct reference to one of her previous albums, Good Girl Gone Bad.
Kim Kardashian’s Instagram, though, is her body of work. It’s not like Beyoncé’s, or Katy Perry’s, or Ariana Grande’s, which are points of reference for those who are massive fans of their art.
I’m not claiming that Instagram is the only thing Kim has done with her career. That would make me an idiot. She’s obviously (so obviously that I feel redundant even writing it, because so many people already have) a skilled businesswoman. You don’t make 20 million people care about your account on a photo-posting app without being a great businesswoman. She has a clothing line, a perfume, a makeup line, a huge reality show—she’s freaking ubiquitous. But, even though her social media presence came after reality show publicity, the meat of her career isn’t from Keeping Up. Kim Kardashian, the individual beyond the Kardashian sister brand, has come into her full glory via Instagram and Twitter.
How many of us saw that gorgeous Balmain bachelorette party dress? Posted on her Instagram. The “side chicks be like…” photo with Kanye that went viral? Instagram. There’s literally a list called “Kim Kardashian’s Best Instagram Photos.”
I roll my eyes at the fact that this woman's entire career is having a relevant social media presence. I do. But maybe that’s an already emerging old-timer in me. Who’s to say she’s not pioneering an entire new brand of celebrity? Who’s to say Kanye’s not right, and that she does, after all, merit a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?
She’s no Beyoncé. I will never be able to attribute any legitimate artistic merit to Kim Kardashian. Sorry. But her career is not without merit, and instead of dismissing it like I’m so tempted to so often, it’s worthwhile to consider the possibility that it’s kicking off a whole new type of celebrity.
Like what you read? Follow Maria Barbera on Twitter: @mariabarberanyc