In an interview with the New York Times that dropped late Wednesday discussing the launch of her new skincare brand, Kim Kardashian said she might go as far as to “eat poop every single day” to look younger.
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“I’ll try anything,” Kardashian told the Times. “If you told me that I literally had to eat poop every single day and I would look younger, I might. I just might.”
It’s clearly a bit glib and hyperbolic. Maybe it was a throwaway line — or, in the opposite direction, specifically intended to stoke outrage and attention (like Kim’s recent comments about “no one wanting to work anymore“). After all, the devil works hard; but Kris Jenner’s PR orbit works harder. But coming just weeks after Kim’s much-criticized crash dieting to fit into Marilyn Monroe’s dress, it feels a lot less like something you can uncomfortably laugh off and more like a red (or brown?) flag of how girlboss feminism has failed us when it comes to women’s insecurities, aging chief among them.
In a culture that deeply (and, let’s be real, creepily ) fetishizes youth, women have long been encouraged to embrace and commit to an anti-aging agenda . Society expects women to be engaged in silent labor at all times to be maintaining their aesthetic value (e.g. looking as much as they possibly can like a teenage girl). If that sounds gross and a little bit dehumanizing to read, that’s because it is! And celebrities have recently gotten in on the game at a whole new level.
We’re in an era where countless celebrities have dropped make-up and skincare lines, crossing the line from people who uphold beauty standards by just existing to those who stand to profit by upholding and exploiting the insecurities that come with them. Marilyn Monroe undoubtedly influenced the beauty standards of her time, but she wasn’t on Instagram selling the products that helped her achieve her “look,” and so, she didn’t have the same potential to harm that Kim and others do today.
I say this outright and early in this whole spiel because for regular, non-millionaire people who are being marketed to, it’s important to have your critical transition-lenses on whenever a product (especially a cosmetic one) is being sold to you: Is [insert thing about my face here] really a problem that needs addressing? If you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy skincare, but does it out of self-consciousness over features that naturally appear on your face — or someone who feels like their budget is constantly getting eaten by new TikTok products that will “fix” or “improve” you in an irresistible way — you’re already familiar with the sh*t-eating energy of it all. Not all of us have the money, time, or desire to keep up with the Kardashians (or any other stars) when it comes to working on our appearances, but there’s a relentless cultural drumbeat that tells women they really, really should.
That brings us back to Kim, her 9-step skincare routine (now for sale), and her Elizabeth Báthory-lite bit about the shit she’d maybe, possibly be willing to eat for a younger-looking face. The Kardashians have spent a great deal of their careers pointing viewers toward all manner of beauty and wellness grifts (I will never forget nor forgive the diarrhea tummy teas and you shouldn’t either), cosmetic surgeries, and procedures that will supposedly help you attain their Facetuned, Photoshopped look IRL. And in one way, they were revolutionary: They didn’t pretend that anything about their appearance was “effortless.” There’s an undeniably unnatural and performative nature to their beauty pursuits: normalizing baking and contour for everyday wear, BBLs that come and go, fillers, and vampiric facials.
In that way, Kim’s quote isn’t so much a throwaway line, but a thesis statement of what her family has always been about: doing anything to look the way she does. She’s saying the quiet part out loud.
There was a time not so long ago in the Girl Boss feminism era where Kim’s recent quote might have been given the pseudo-empowering choice-feminism treatment. There might have been a headline like “Kim Kardashian Gets Real Unapologetic About the Work She Puts In to Her Beauty Routine” or whatever, put alongside some (fairly valid!) critiques of a culture that virulently demands so-called “perfection” while demonizing the vanity, consumption and labor it takes to get there. Yes, it’s not fair for women to put all this effort in to these standards and then also be asked to pretend it took nothing at all — but the more salient point we’ve arrived at is that it’s not fair for women to be asked to put all this effort in at all.
I don’t think we live in that time anymore where we’d tolerate anyone calling that particular attitude (hypothetical willingness to eat poop and all) “empowering.” The youth-obsession in our culture cannot hold — not as we see a rising backlash to all the feminist “wins” of the 19th and 20th centuries, and not as the market saturates with cell-turnover, slimming, de-puffing products sold and promoted by people with enough money to fund any lifestyle change they could ever want. Recognizing the ways that all this anti-aging consumption exacerbates existing harm and trying to actively heal our personal and cultural relationships with aging are far more effective ways to empower ourselves against a system that devalues us.
Today, we’ve made vital steps to mainstream concepts of body neutrality (thanks to the work of fat liberation and disability activists), and embrace positivity towards acne and body hair. We’re aware of and trying to actively unlearn all the body hate we’ve inherited from our mothers and our mother’s mothers. We know that we don’t owe our decidedly (and often cruelly) patriarchal society perpetual youth and desirability — and in turn, I think we’re at a place where we’re less likely to be be charmed by the idea that someone’s pursuit of never, ever aging might go to extreme and gross lengths.
Ultimately, the problem we all should be addressing obviously isn’t Kim, her skincare, or her feelings on aging (no matter how sad they make me!), but the root cause of why she, as a public figure, both feels the way she does and says it in public. The wrinkles, smile and laugh lines — markers of a life that’s been lived (fully, joyfully) beyond your 20s and 30s— are not problems that need obsessive fixing. The problem is still the culture that doesn’t let us love, appreciate and honor them the way they deserve.
Before you go, check out our favorite quotes to help inspire positive attitudes about food and bodies: