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Why the 'In a world full of Kardashians, be a Diana' meme does nothing but damage women

How about we just let women be who they want to be?

LAST WEEK, THE world marked the twentieth anniversary of the death of Princess Diana. As part of the commemoration, we were treated to countless think pieces, documentaries galore, and an unceasing deluge of Twitter tributes.

If you were on social media, chances are you may have caught a glimpse of a meme that was doing the rounds for the week that was in it. A tasteful black-and-white image of the late Princess of Wales is accompanied by text, which reads, “In a world full of Kardashians, be a Diana.”

c56 Source: Know Your Meme

The purpose of the meme is to draw a distinction between the Kardashian clan and Princess Diana. The former are viewed in some quarters as being vacuous, classless, narcissistic and representative of all that is wrong with the world in 2017.

Princess Diana, on the other hand, embodied a lot of traditionally female characteristics. She was blonde and beautiful, but never sexy. She was regal and ladylike, but never uppity or inaccessible.  She was a beacon of feminine strength, but also not afraid to lay her vulnerabilities bare to the general public and, er, Martin Bashir.

In other words, they’re a perfect yin and yang (even if they have more in common than some may like to admit).

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The meme is neither new nor specific to Diana. If you Google “In a world full of Kardashians…” you will find dozens of crudely made images advising young women to be more like Audrey Hepburn, Marie Curie, Kate Middleton, Helena Bonham-Carter and even Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous.

According to Know Your Meme, the earliest known instance of the meme is from September 2014 when a Twitter user uploaded an image reading, “In a world full of Kardashians, be a Khadijah,” a reference to the first wife of the prophet Muhammad.

Since then, it has snowballed as we as a society have apparently decided that Kim Kardashian and her extended family embody the worst of humanity and are to be reviled.

Sushi 🍣

A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

I am here to say that this meme is bad. We live in a society that’s rife with misogyny and it serves nobody to share memes that pit women against each other and place certain types of femininity on a higher pedestal than others.

Here’s the thing: Kim Kardashian and her family are not the root cause of all that is evil in the world, despite what certain people might have you believe. She’s fond of makeup and clothes. She’s partial to a nude selfie. She’s uttered the odd silly statement. Does that mean she deserves to be vilified and held up as an example of what not to aspire to?

Hell no.

Over the last decade, Kim Kardashian has transcended her reality television roots to become a bona fide star and hugely savvy businesswoman. Detractors will say she only gained notoriety through a sex tape, but a sex tape only buys you fifteen minutes of fame, not ten years’ worth. An ample posterior does not an empire make.

It’s worth noting that Kardashian has used her significant platform to speak out on issues like police brutality, gun control, Trump’s proposed transgender military ban and the Armenian genocide, among other things. She has met with victims of gun violence, including the son of Alton Sterling, an unarmed black man shot dead by police. She recently donated $500,000 to victims of Hurricane Harvey.

(A mother of two using her celebrity to highlight issues she’s passionate about? Sounds reminiscent of one Princess Diana, no? *thinking face emoji*)

Additionally, she’s famously straight and borderline boring, eschewing partying and alcohol in favour of early nights and exercise. The worst thing you could say about her is, “She loves herself,” but if pouting and taking selfies is a crime, then lock us up.

TGIF

A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

You’re entitled to frown at the Kardashians and their exploits. You’re entitled to be irritated by how they dominate the news cycle. Hell, you’re entitled to be concerned about the message to young women they send about valuing beauty and body image above all else.

But consider this: why don’t we see similar memes about men? Why aren’t we bombarded with images that read, “In a world of Donald Trumps, be a Nelson Mandela”? Men in positions of power can commit atrocious acts of violence, steal, rape or even toy with the idea of starting a nuclear war, but, sure, Kim Kardashian is the problem.

Last year, Ariana Grande shared a modified version of the meme, which read:

In a world full of Kardashians be whatever you want to be and stop spreading internalized misogyny by insulting one woman in order to compliment another. Celebrate all women in all their glorious variety!

aa1 Source: Ariana Grande/Instagram

In other words? Don’t pit women against other women. Don’t tear women down for being who they are or for not being the “perfect woman”. Don’t punish women for being sexual and don’t fetishise certain brands of femininity over others. See such rhetoric for what it is: an attempt to put women back in their place.

Be whoever you bloody well want to be. After all, wouldn’t the world be awfully boring if we were all just like Princess Diana?

 

 

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