Emma Cowing: Kim Kardashian and the issue of taste

Pictures of North, the baby of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, are the subject of a bidding war. Picture: AFP
Pictures of North, the baby of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, are the subject of a bidding war. Picture: AFP
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OH, TO be a Kardashian. With their diamonds and their tans and their poker straight hair and their insatiable love of publicising even the smallest passing of wind to the world.

It is easy for many of us to imagine what it must be like to be a Kardashian, because the Los Angeles family for whom fame is now so synonymous no one can quite remember why they got famous in the first place, are so hellbent on telling us about it. From childbirth to clothes shopping to arguments over one sister’s paternity, no incident is too intimate, too personal or too mundane to be packaged up with a reality TV bow, wrapped in Twitter endorsements and sent out to the masses for their perusal.

Kim Kardashian, arguably the most famous of the bunch because – and there is no getting around this – she is the prettiest one, recently had a baby. You may have read about this, not because it was the first baby ever born to anyone on the planet (although so relentless was the coverage, you could have been mistaken for thinking it were so), but because of the child’s chosen moniker. For this particular Kardashian is dating a rapper called Kanye West. And Kim and Kanye decided to call their child North.

Poor little North West. Barely a month old and her moniker is not only the laughing stock of every late night TV show host in America, but a bad joke conceived by parents using their child’s name to make what they clearly think to be a clever commentary on… what? The shocking state of intercardinal compass directions? The much lamented movies of Alfred Hitchock? It is a name that is as cruel as it is unusual. It would be like naming any child of mine Daisy.

But as if that weren’t enough, the poor little mite is now at the centre of a new dispute. North West has yet to be seen by the world at large and Kim and Kanye are reportedly mulling a $2 million offer from People Magazine for the first public pictures.

Now I quite like babies, but there’s no getting around the fact that unless you are related to it or close friends with its parents, a picture of one newborn baby is much like another. A picture of a baby is not in and of itself massively interesting. But perhaps this is why I shall never be the editor of People Magazine, and Kim Kardashian has far more money in the bank than I ever will.

At any rate, there is much excitement over these forthcoming pictures, so much so that it has reportedly caused a rift between Kim and her mother. Kim Kardashian’s mother is Kris Jenner, no shrinking violet herself with her regular appearances on the family shows and her “momager” tag. She is shortly to launch her own talk show, for reasons I’m unclear on, and is obviously looking to make a big splash with her debut. And what better way to do it than by parading pictures of her oddly named, famously parented grandchild? It’s what any self respecting granny would do.

According to US gossip sites, while Jenner is publicly saying she will not discuss the new addition on her talk show, behind the scenes she is apparently pressuring Kim to allow her to give the audience a sneak peek of the baby’s first magazine cover. If true, it’s a highly depressing insight into a mother and daughter relationship that has become so caught up in fame that reality, and for that matter dignity, has long since left the building. If untrue, it’s an even more depressing insight into how the family are perceived at large.

While the antics of the Kardashians are laughable and pitiable, they are also deeply worrying. Not for the Kardashians but for the millions of young women who adore them, follow them and copy everything that they do. Such is their influence on young markets, not just on TV and in magazines and gossip websites but in retail too – they recently launched a clothing line in UK high street store Dorothy Perkins – that they are hard to ignore. Their flashy, trashy, grab-as-much-cash-as-you-can-while-wearing-ten-inch-hair-extensions-and-designer-duds ethos is held up as a viable way to live.

Their message is that if you look good and flaunt every inch of your personal life you’ll become filthy rich. It may be true, but it’s hardly something to aspire to. If only Kim Kardashian would do something truly radical and inspirational, and keep those baby pictures to herself.