Oh boy, Kim Kardashian has done it again. I swear, the amount of times members of this family have gotten in trouble for cultural appropriation, at this point it seems like they’re just being willfully ignorant. Kim K is in the cultural appropriation hot seat this week, all because of her brand new line of shapewear she just announced.
In the pantheon of Kardashian businesses, it’s hard to imagine a better fit than Kim making shapewear. Her body is legendary, and she’s worn her fair share of garments that obviously required some intense smoothing. She’s talked about cutting up Spanx before to conceal them under skimpy outfits. And her new line of shapewear c0mes in a wide range of colors and sizes, to be more accessible to more people! All of this sounds great, so what’s the problem here?
It’s f*cking called Kimono.
Finally I can share with you guys this project that I have been developing for the last year.
I’ve been passionate about this for 15 years.
Kimono is my take on shapewear and solutions for women that actually work.
Photos by Vanessa Beecroft pic.twitter.com/YAACrRltX3
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) June 25, 2019
Honestly, I was taken aback when I first saw Kim’s announcement post. Despite all of the drama that this family has put us through for the past decade, this seemed like an especially wild move. Obviously I get the play on words with Kim’s name, but did no one ever stop to think that this might not be an amazing idea? And not only did Kim think it was okay, but celeb after celeb was commenting praise!
Even Chrissy Teigen, source of love and laughs and all that is good on the internet, didn’t seem to see any problem with Kimono.
I’m sending you the biggest package ever!!! Your gonna love!!! https://t.co/gaDXmnhw22
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) June 25, 2019
Ugh ugh ugh. Even though the famous people of Instagram and Twitter didn’t seem to get the issue, it didn’t take long for the backlash to start on social media. The comments on Kim’s post are flooded with criticism, and many people of Japanese heritage took to Twitter to shame Kim for her blatant disregard for an important aspect of Japanese culture.
One is KIMONO. One is Kim shamelessly selling a line of shapewear. Which y’all don’t need. #kimono pic.twitter.com/6mP0oDqPvn
— Tamlyn Tomita (@thetamlyntomita) June 25, 2019
Even though this is messy, there are lots of beautiful photos on Twitter of Japanese women wearing actual kimonos at weddings and other important events. It’s bad enough when women wear those dumb flowy shawl things and call them kimonos, because they’re literally not. (Dear everyone reading this, stop calling that a kimono.) But this is a whole other level of taking something and distorting it for your benefit.
Not only is Kim Kardashian using a word from Japanese culture for something that has nothing to do with Japanese culture, but she literally took ownership of it. People got especially mad after finding out that Kim trademarked “Kimono” and a variety of other related terms surrounding her shapewear line. It’s remarkable that someone actually let a white woman trademark a traditional Japanese style of clothing, but I’m hardly even surprised anymore.
Kimono: has a centuries long rich history and is deeply embedded in the traditions and culture of a country.
Kim Kardashian: OMg It hAs mY nAmE iN iT!#Kimohno
— Kyla Hsia (@kylahsia) June 26, 2019
Kim Kardashian hasn’t bothered to respond to any of the criticisms yet, and I kind of doubt she will. Yeah, she’s getting a fair amount of backlash on her social media, but there are probably thousands more people who will buy her shapewear without a second thought. I don’t hate the Kardashians in general, but it’s so frustrating that they keep doing this sh*t that could so easily be avoided. Sometimes we might overreact to the things these people do, but to me, it’s pretty bad that Kim is going to directly profit off of something she took from another culture.
So I guess, like, buy some other shapewear and cut it if you need to? Or tweet at Kim a bunch and hope she changes the name? Idk what the proper solution is here, but Kimono is definitely a yikes.
Updated: In a move that honestly surprised me, Kim apologized for cultural appropriation in a recent Instagram post. Well, sort of. She acknowledged that she had received backlash to the line (which she doesn’t typically do) and then said that she would be changing the name of her shape wear line.
View this post on Instagram
Being an entrepreneur and my own boss has been one of the most rewarding challenges I’ve been blessed with in my life. What’s made it possible for me after all of these years has been the direct line of communication with my fans and the public. I am always listening, learning and growing – I so appreciate the passion and varied perspectives that people bring to me. When I announced the name of my shapewear line, I did so with the best intentions in mind. My brands and products are built with inclusivity and diversity at their core and after careful thought and consideration, I will be launching my Solutionwear brand under a new name. I will be in touch soon. Thank you for your understanding and support always.
“Being an entrepreneur and my own boss has been one of the most rewarding challenges I’ve been blessed with in my life,” she wrote. “What’s made it possible for me after all of these years has been the direct line of communication with my fans and the public. I am always listening, learning and growing – I so appreciate the passion and varied perspectives that people bring to me. When I announced the name of my shapewear line, I did so with the best intentions in mind. My brands and products are built with inclusivity and diversity at their core and after careful thought and consideration, I will be launching my Solutionwear brand under a new name. I will be in touch soon. Thank you for your understanding and support always.”
This is a pretty big departure from the way Kim tends to respond to criticism and controversies, which is to bury her head in the sand, say nothing, and wait for it to blow over (see: every other accusation of cultural appropriation and blackface in the past). But the backlash to this incident seemed more widespread than usual, with even the mayor of Kyoto urging Kim to change the name of her shapewear line from Kimono to… literally anything else. In a letter, he asked her to “reconsider your decision of using the name kimono in your trademark”, and even invited her to Kyoto to experience kimono culture for herself. So if you see Kim Kardashian Instagramming from Japan in a few days, you know why!
We don’t know yet what Kim is going to change the line of her name to be, but if I had to guess, it’s probably going to be something equally tone-deaf. Can’t wait!
Images: Shutterstock; KimKardashian (2), thetamlyntomita, kylahsia / Twitter; KimKardashian / Instagram