Sure, She\'s Beautiful, but Why Is Kim Kardashian Famous?
Sure, She’s Beautiful, but Why Is Kim Kardashian Famous?
Credit: E! Online / Pacific Coast News    

The Kardashians

Sure, She’s Beautiful, but Why Is Kim Kardashian Famous?


"We're not big fans of the word famous," the Kardashian sisters say in Kardashian Konfidential. "Or really, we should say we're not big fans of using it when we talk about ourselves. It makes us sound conceited." Here's the problem with that: they are famous. They're super-famous — and the most famous of them all is middle sister Kim Kardashian.

But why is Kim so famous? There isn't just one answer, but the theories that exist are long and controversial.

Kim hardly comes from humble beginnings. Her dad was power-attorney Robert Kardashian, who gained a boost of fame when he helped his buddy O.J. Simpson out with his high-profile trial in 1996. Her stepfather, whom Kim's mom Kris Jenner married in 1991, has his own claim to fame; he's Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner.

Kim and her sisters' upbringing surrounded them with money and ensured a certain social status. Due to proximity, the seeds of fame and fortune were planted at a young age.

Before Kim was famous, she was still ambitious, despite her privileged background. She worked in retail; had a closet-organizing business; made money selling things on eBay; co-operated a kids' clothing store, Smooch, with her mom and sisters; and became a stylist. Ever since she was 12 years old, though, she wanted to be on reality TV.

"When The Real World first came out on MTV [in 1992] I told my friend Alison, 'When we get old enough let’s make an audition tape,'" Kim admitted on Kardashian Konfidential. " It turned out that the company that produces our shows for E! is the one that created and still produces The Real World!"

Well, it appears her dream has come true. Kathie Lee Gifford, a friend of Kris's, apparently thought their family would be a hilarious show. "Literally a week later we had all these people with cameras in our house filming, and it was on the air really soon after that," said Kim. "It all happened so fast," reflected Kim. "we didn’t really know what we were doing. Then, right after we began filming, I was asked to pose in Playboy."

And then there was the sex tape. Back in 2007, Kim and her then-boyfriend, singer Ray J, turned on a camera while they did the deed… and the rest, as they say, is history. Whether the sex tape is entirely responsible for making her famous is up for debate, but Ray J, for the record, credits himself. He reportedly sent Kim a text reading, "And to think you really have me to thank for all this ;-)." Rude!

Kim's current beau Kanye West immortalized the infamous tape in his song "Cold," with the lyric "Eat breakfast at Gucci/My girl a superstar all from a home movie" — which seems like a weird choice, but this is Kanye.

Not everyone was quite so understanding of Kim getting wild on-film, though. Her mom, Kris, told Joan Rivers earlier this week that she "literally fell apart" when the tape was leaked. "I cried myself to sleep," she admitted. "I don't think anything can prepare you for something like that when it comes to your daughter."

Whether it's the sex tape's doing or not, Kim is a household name. An entrepreneur. A budding singer. A sometime actress. A designer. A perfumista. And everything in between. In late November 2010, she was even hired by Charmin to open up a new bathroom in Times Square. Now that's famous. (And kind of weird.) Her wedding to Kris Humphries pulled in $18 million in one day. There are obvious downsides to living your life, and love, in the public eye; Kim filed for divorce after 72 days of marriage.

Kim's current fiance, Kanye, is a longtime friend who’s become her most high-profile boyfriend to date. The two were first photographed together in April 2012, and it was months before they publicly admitted to being a couple. Now, the duo lovingly referred to as “Kimye” are virtually inseparable. They’ve traveled to Paris and Hawaii together, and are currently shacking up in the Jenner mansion in Calabasas, CA while their Bel-Air mansion undergoes renovations — gold-plated toilets and all.

On December 30, 2012, Kanye revealed that Kim was pregnant with the couple's first child, and their daughter, North West (or "Nori") was born on June 15, 2013. After spending a few months adjusting to being new parents, Kanye rented out San Francisco’s AT&T Park on her 33rd birthday — October 22, 2013 to pop the question over the Jumbotron. Kim said yes, so this power-couple will have a wedding to remember in the near future!

Kim has worked hard for her fame!

I still don't get why she's famous!

Kim's happily-ever-after (so far) with Kanye has definitely kept her in the spotlight, but the roots of what propelled her from socialite to superstar are even the subject of academic scrutiny.

"It almost doesn't matter what you're famous for," Jake Halpern, a journalist, radio producer and author of the book Fame Junkies, explained to us. "If you look the part of a celebrity and you're on the red carpet and someone's taking your picture, everyone starts to drool."

"[Kim] is a performer," Jake continued. "And the performance that she's giving is how she lives her pseudo-celebrity life and navigates all of the drama in that world. That, in and of itself, is a kind of performance. And she's obviously quite good at it."

Mathieu Deflem, a Professor of Sociology at the University of South Carolina, teaches a unique course called "Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame." (We'd go back to school for that!) "[Kim's fame] is predominantly brought about by her audience rather than because of any accomplishment on her part," Deflem told us. "And it is this fame that subsequently has become recognized as her accomplishment." Ouch.

While Mathieu's two cents may seem a little harsh to some, it's not like Kim is just sitting on her frequently admired butt! The new mama has been extremely active in the fashion scene, and is currently working on launching a line of baby clothes.

Of course, Kim has her own theory about the root of her fame. "It started when I went out on a date with Nick Lachey," Kim writes in Kardashian Konfidential. "Of course the paparazzi took pictures, because people were curious about who he was with."

"So the next night I was out with Paris Hilton," she continues. "We were in her car and the paparazzi started taking pictures. Usually they would shout, 'Paris! Paris! Paris!' [But] they started yelling 'Kim! Kim! Kim!' I wanted to hide, and Paris and I just looked at each other and laughed."

"She said, 'Whatever you do, just smile.' I thought, this is so weird, I don't know what’s going on. It was surreal."

What do you think? Did Kim's fame come out of nowhere, or do you kinda-sorta get it? Let us know your thoughts below!