As I’ve alluded to before, one of my favorite forms of entertainment is watching people’s blood rise when Kim Kardashian comes up in conversation. The mere mention of her name seems to increase much of society’s heart rate so intensely that the resulting caloric burn surely trumps any Maroon 5 driven moves at a Soul Cycle class. Needless to say, I was quite pleased to learn that the vixen of our time is publishing a book of her selfies with Rizzoli, aptly titled Selfish. Initially conceived as a gift for her equally divisive hubby, Kanye West, the project will pair shots already featured on her infamous Instagram account with some never-before-seen gems. With a democratic price of just under twenty dollars, it may just be the Nouveau Pop Art piece of our time.
I plan to purchase it immediately so it can mingle with the rest of my tiny coffee table book collection. Kim will reign atop those tomes which focus on Victorian-era jewelry, high-fashion photography, Bob Dylan, and not unironically, Andy Warhol. “I believe in low light and trick mirrors,” the latter artist is famous for saying, and certainly Miss Kardashian-West would agree.
Yet most of the comments regarding this project so far have been of the mocking, disdainful stripe, a myriad heads shaking in silent protest with thoughts of self-indulgence and narcissism. “We’ll let you decide what this implies,” one such piece closed off with ominously, as if there was a much darker truth to unearth beneath Kim’s alluring bone structure. I find such reactions both hilarious and vaguely sad. Here we are again allowing Kim K to be the punching bag for our qualms that are actually rooted in larger society—as if she alone conceived of the selfie, celebrity culture, our reliance on social media/the Internet, etc. Here we are again seething at the thought that someone likes themselves enough to show their face, and endlessly, at that. Or, more accurately, that someone just realizes the extremely lucrative value of their particular facial arrangement.
I’ve said it before and, like most things, it bears repeating: your feelings about Kim Kardashian, about selfies, say so much more about you than any larger Truths regarding those things. Do you roil at the thought of Kim’s fame-ass? Make fun of those who dare to dabble in taking pictures of their own, imperfect façade? Take a moment—lay back on a couch, perhaps, therapy-session style—and think honestly about why that might be. Why does self-assurance grate you? Or the simple, human longing to share one pretty photo amongst the many less-pretty, private snaps? Why does business savvy (especially that wrought by a non-Ivy-League-educated, vagina-wielding force) bother you like so?
Because, really, these are the greater themes that you belittle when you look down upon the Kim K’s of the world, or the many selfie-taking folks out there (a group which I am happily a part of). Try, if you can, to remember that Selfish is also a book conceived by a woman who, after it was announced, went on a Twitter rant about how fed up she is with her body, how much she’s struggled to lose weight since birthing baby Nori. Try to recall, next time a selfie graces your many feeds, your own vanity, and your own longing to create meaning out of a life, and a self, that is essentially meaningless. Selfies may not be your medium, and it’s doubtful that a collection of them is either, but I’m sure you can identify your own manifestation of these same endeavors: trying to make something out of nothing, to assert yourself along certain lines, and to control the way your picture is painted. That, and simply attempting to capitalize on what you can, whether that’s your brain, your face, or—yes, even in Kim K’s case—the distinct match made by both.