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Lamar Odom and the Wondrous Loyalty of the Kardashians

Tuesday night, I laid alone on my tiny couch and browsed the channels till I settled on E!’s Keeping Up with the Kardashians. After a minute of shedding any self-judgement, I seriously thought: If I die tomorrow, I’m OK with having spent the final night of my life watching this. Perhaps it was a form of reality show foreshadowing.

As it turns out, that was probably the last conscious night for basketball player Lamar Odom, the almost ex-husband of the youngest Kardashian, Khloe. His basically lifeless body was found at Dennis Hof’s Love Ranch “brothel” in Nevada. Since then, what I can gather is that he’s in some stage of multiple organ failure.

The show airing that night featured Kim lightly reprimanding Khloe for answering Odom’s calls, expressing concern about her wellbeing. In conversation with their mother Kris, it’s revealed that she also keeps in touch with her former son-in-law. And this is after Odom rapped about cheating on her daughter.

It’s undeniably popular to loathe the Kardashians. But I’m going to flip this on its head for a minute and say that if today, the Kardashians can’t get respect for being a truly devoted family, basically free of condition (think Scott Disick), then there is absolutely no hope ever for creating loving society that honors our differences and sees past them to actual virtues. Trevor Noah recently echoed an opinion often voiced by his Daily Show predecessor Jon Stewart when he said a few days back, “You can think two contradictory thoughts at the same time. In fact, two contradictory opinions can be correct.” You can not agree with the way these people live their lives, but admire other things about them all the same.

The real story of KUWTK is about family, about keeping a united front. It’s not quite Little Women, but there is definitely some same next level intense shit in both (if you want to stretch that comparison, I think Kylie is Beth).

Once in a Wiki wormhole, I read entirely too much about Kris Kardashian’s pre-show life. What I was left and obsessed with was that she left her first husband, Robert, when he defended O.J. because of her devotion to O.J.’s victim, Nicole Simpson. Kris then raised six children through two marriages, one that ended in death and the other in her husband transitioning from Bruce to Caitlyn. That cannot have been easy.

Though seemingly dim, Kim is the family’s main peacekeeper. I understand that this is a role she’s playing on a television show, but with all the social media and real life shit she’s been through, it’s hard to hide everything. She seems grounded in a way that fascinates me. Sure her physicality is of utmost importance to her. But it is necessary to the success of her career. She is a model who solidified the popularity of the female ass – I love her for this. I think Kim did more for curvy women than hundreds of “plus” sized models ever could, simply because of her high profile and massive influence on pop culture. And if your moneymaker is your body, of course you’ll take care of it any way you think is the most profitable. It’s like she’s getting her Ph.D in lips to boob to waist to booty ratio.

I remember watching the earlier episodes and thinking what wonderful dad Bruce was to his two youngest daughters. There was so much that is very relatable about the intimacy the three older sisters share — making fun of, physically attacking, and then making up with each other. It’s a closer depiction (albeit a nicely edited one) of what I’ve experienced with my own family than anything else I’ve seen on TV.

This week though, Khloe is staying with her ex as he likely nears death. Odom’s personal tragedies have been reported again and again — he lost his mother at 12, his father is a heroin addict, two of his closest friends died of drug overdoses a week apart earlier this year, and he deals with addiction himself. But as outlined in this Slate article, his struggle with drugs was handled with care and respect on a program that most people admittedly tune in to because it’s the television equivalent of disco fries.

When the news broke about Odom, Kris, Khloe, and Kim immediately went to his hospital bedside. Kourtney and Kylie soon followed. They left yesterday for a couple of days— Kim is pregnant and dealing with a related medical condition. Kendall is flying from London to Vegas to be with Khloe. I know all of this minute-to-minute because of TMZ — the outlet that was integral in ending their marriage.

I find often that those posting the most hateful things about these human beings are likely thinking the whole time how, if given the chance, they’d “do it better.” The most atrocious meme I saw compared Kylie to Malala Yousafzai, who just won the Nobel Prize, just because they were both turning 18. I’m sorry, but please never put Malala next to my 17-year-old self. I was convinced no one would ever have sex with me, and I thought about it every minute of every day. Honestly. Malala is a saint.

Still, it’s important that Kylie loves herself just as much as Malala does. Then maybe she can one day live up to your standards of how a 17-year-old should act. I don’t personally think a 17-year-old should have elective cosmetic surgery (maybe an ear pinning), but I also don’t think people should walk their dogs in public without leashes. Both can result in very violent outcomes.

However, I admire Kylie’s don’t give a fuck attitude. She’s going to pump her lips up no matter how much you try to shame her. But most importantly, her greatest virtue, which she shares with her siblings and parents — she will be there when her older sister is heartbroken, watching the man she most loves die.

Most of the hatred is woman on woman crime. I’m someone not much interested in shaving their legs and thus am often mistaken for a Shetland pony. I believe that, for the most part, makeup ages you. But more importantly than my personal feelings about self-care, I think it’s essential to be kind and to exercise my empathy, to look beyond the swollen but flattering lips and the tackiness of the “Hollywood” video game and see more. As women criticizing other women for their cosmetic choices, we become a mockery of our own feminism. And then we should be ashamed of ourselves, not the Kardashians.

 

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