The world has been keeping up with the Kardashian/Jenner clan for what seems like thousands of years. We obsessively seek every detail about these women’s lives as if they were magical. And maybe they are a tad spectacular given that our infatuation with them has led to all of their careers as social queens (yes, I am summarizing and do recall Kim’s sex tape). But their spectacularness stems from our showers of attention to everything they do from dawn to dusk and more.
Unfortunately for them, being the world’s guilty pleasure – because, if we are honest with ourselves, most of us do keep up with them – comes controversy, debacles, and plain ‘ole fuck-ups. So what’s this week’s crazy headline for the K family?
Kylie Jenner: The Latest Latina Beauty Icon.
Yup, that’s right. A white woman is apparently the trendiest Latina according to PopSugar Latina‘s article originally titled: “Kylie Jenner Is Basically a Mix of All Your Favorite Latina Celebrities.”
If you’re thinking, “wtf…,” so was the rest of the internet. To PopSugar’s dismay, their lovely article on the baby Jenner was torn to shreds for comparing her to Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lopez, and the phenomenal Selena Quintanilla to name a few. This wrath upon their seemingly-innocent article led to PopSugar Latina’s editor to recall the piece and issue a statement that follows:
“We hear your feedback on the original content of this post loud and clear. As proud Latinas ourselves, we know Kylie is not Latina and never meant to imply that she was; we were simply trying to point out the influence our strong, passionate community has on others. We apologize for any offense we caused.”
— POPSUGAR Latina Editors
And that’s it.
But wait, it’s not!
What a slap in the face it was to see this article stating that Kylie could be all of these Latina women when she’s not even Latina!
I am Latina, and I pride myself in being of this ethnic background. So to see that a Latina woman wrote an article that basically claims a white woman is a jumble of a bunch of successful Latina celebrities was just a big confusion. It was even more daunting to realize that no one – no editor, supervisor, friend, or whatever – stopped this piece from being published. It was wrong. It was completely wrong.
Now, I’ll say that I’m not attacking Kylie Jenner for being who she is and how she looks. While she’s gotten into some hot water with cultural appropriation and being called out on it endlessly, my frustration is not so much at her but at everything else. Obviously, this issue is because of cultural appropriation, and we can’t ignore that. We can’t just look the other way when these things happen because denial does nothing more than perpetuate the problem. Even rereading the editor’s statement, “the influence our strong, passionate community has on others,” screams cultural appropriation.
Kylie didn’t think, yes this outfit is totally Selena and I’m going to represent her today. However, PopSugar’s article did spew these ideas that it was okay for people to actively accept that Kylie could totally be a celebrity Latin woman because of her physical appearance and lifestyle. That is bullshit.
What ends up happening by comparing Kylie’s image and lifestyle to the endless Latina celebrities *insert sarcastic tone* is a Frankenstein’s monster come to life. You take aspects of celebrity Latinas and connect them all together to create a new Latin woman that isn’t actually Latina. This leads to Kylie becoming a new Latina beauty icon (because she just needs one more notch in her bedpost).
Kylie Jenner is white. Kylie Jenner is rich. While there is nothing wrong with both of these things, they add a mountain of privilege to her lifestyle from birth. We all know it in the back of our heads, so why do we need to give her more when we – Latinas – have significantly less than her? It doesn’t make sense! People of color struggle to be represented in so many facets of our lives including the media; I don’t see a reason why we take the little we have and just toss it off onto a teenager.
The thing that irks me is the fact that, as a Latina, I must search high and low for those who identify like me. Then, when I find these people, they are deemed not on the same level as their counterparts. However, when those with privilege do/look/become/obtain something that sort of resembles a characteristic of a person of color – like Selena Quintanilla – we can finally say, yes that is a good thing because a white person has now done it.
This struggle isn’t just my own, but of every other person of color.
It’s disheartening to think that another Latina wrote the PopSugar piece, a Latina editor approved it, and nowhere did someone say that this comparison was going to get a major backlash. But I stand firm with the tweets, comments, and responses that explain how exalting a white woman as a Frankenstein’s monster of celebrity Latinas was wrong and a bad idea.
And saying she’s anything close to Selena… well, that’s just blasphemy.