July 28, 2010

"Pretty" is not enough!

It was only a matter of time before the younger half-sister of the Kardashian clan, Kendall Jenner, joined in on the money making fun and modeled for a bikini photo shoot.  Kim posted the photos on her blog this past week and praised Kendall’s ability to do what the Kardashians do best: looking “pretty” (and reaping mega profits).

They turned out sooo gorgeous!! I am so proud of Kendall. She’s going to take over the modeling world… you just watch!

Now, where shall I begin?  I am beyond bored with the one-dimensionality of the Kardashian claim to fame.  The issue here is not necessarily that Kendall is wearing a bikini at age 14 or really even the fact that she has decided to pursue a modeling career.   The issue here in my mind is the fact that this is not surprising at all.  But then again, the Kardashian legacy is looking ‘pretty.’  The incessant downplay from the entire family  and her mother’s orchestration of the shoot doesn’t leave Kendall much room for growth outside of posing in a bikini and reiterates that the only component of self that she can have will be reduced to her looks.  I feel the same way when looking at these photos that I did when I found out the mom, Kris Jenner, was the one who convinced Kim to pose for Playboy– saddened and confused.  I was pretty surprised at the amount of acceptance this photo shoot received and am even more surprised as to why this is considered to be “typical” 14 year old behavior.  Shouldn’t her mother be trying to shield her from the inevitable dangers of the modeling world which is notorious for sexualizing girls at an earlier age and essentially chewing them up and spitting them out?

Photographer Nick Saglimbeni dished the details and pressures of working with a 14 year old and admitted to making a concerted effort to keep this shoot a ‘very healthy PG13’.  Ah, and herein lies the other problem. This is the new PG13.   The fact that this photo shoot is being considered a natural addition to the modeling world and “the making of a superstar” is troublesome because it normalizes the idea that a 14 year old is considered model material today.  As young girls are ushered into adulthood earlier and earlier, we are seeing a normalization and influx of sexualized images.  They are expected and encouraged to look sexy but then penalized and judged if they act sexual.  The mixed messages regarding sexuality seem to be never-ending and especially confusing when you come from a family that is known to pose nude and label it “empowerment”.

The fact of the matter is that being pretty is not enough.  As poetry slammer, Katie Makkai, brilliantly explains we should be encouraging our girls to be pretty INTELLIGENT, pretty CREATIVE, pretty AMAZING but never just merely “pretty”.


  1. You could not be more dead on. I am constantly amazed at how valued girls/women’s looks are even from an absurdly young age. Last week, a client of mine gave birth to twins, a girl and a boy. I saw the family 3 days after they were discharged from the hospital, and the baby girl was already being described as pretty and sweet, while the boy was rebellious and strong. Meanwhile, one of the most replicated studies ever involving gender perceptions, where a baby (sex is irrelevant) is dressed as a girl and then as a boy, taken into the world, and people’s reactions to them are documented. Without fail, when the baby is dressed as a girl, it is referred to as sweet, quiet, “good” (whatever the hell that means”, and pretty. When dressed as a boy, the baby is strong, smart, motivated, and loud. Same baby. The point you make about sexuality is brilliant, and ties in with our early socializing of children. Girls need to be sexy, but not sexual. How absurd to think that only boys go through changes that awaken their sexuality. Survival of the species requires girls/women to be sexual as well. We need to focus on raising children who are happy healthy people first and foremost, not just to represent anglo-hetero-judeo-christian expectations of what girls and boys should be. Love you girl, you are brilliant.

    Comment by Chelsea K Poyo-Nieto — July 29, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

  2. I need to know if I can show your utube video to a girls conference.
    Please contact me.I cried when I saw your work.

    Comment by Rebecca Herman — October 31, 2010 @ 8:26 am

  3. It’s all a disgusting theme to make money, which is all their mother seems to care about.

    Comment by Sarah — November 11, 2010 @ 5:33 am

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