I recently re-read Henrik Ibsen’s classic play A Doll’s House. Shortly thereafter, I came across this article discussing the way Kim Kardashian’s wardrobe has changed since she married Kanye West. The portrayal of Kim and Kanye in the piece eerily reminded me of the relational dynamic between Ibsen’s fictional characters Nora and Torvald.
In the play, Nora functions as a sort of “doll” for her husband to dress up, dote on and show off. Despite the genuine devotion she receives from Torvald, she ultimately enjoys far less authority and autonomy in the context of their marriage relationship than her husband does. Notably, both partners contribute to the maintenance of these unbalanced roles, as they both stand to gain in certain ways by doing so. Nonetheless, Ibsen makes it clear by the end of the play that neither character is truly benefited by the script on which they’ve been basing their relationship.
Of course, drawing this parallel between Kimye and Norvald (yep, I just went there) requires me to make huge assumptions that I don’t really have the right to make. After all, I don’t know much about Kim and Kanye, and articles like this one from my beloved Rookie and this one from one of my heroes Arabelle make me want to love the couple. Kim and Kanye are humans, after all, and they happen to be humans who have accomplished things I can hardly imagine aspiring to. I’ve always had respect for Kanye’s musical talent, I love his personal aesthetic and I admire his drive. I know less about Kim, but she’s certainly found a way to maximize her resources in a manner that’s nothing to sniff at.
Whether I like to admit it or not, I do think Kim’s wardrobe has been noticeably more on point since she’s been with Kanye—and it’s hard to imagine that Kanye has nothing to do with that, especially considering the whole monochrome thing.
Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, right? There’s nothing inherently wrong with helping your honey up their fashion game (I see you, Mom and Dad). And maybe it’s completely innocuous in the case of Kimye, too. But something about the combination of Kanye’s less-than-feminist lyrics and Kim’s apparent willingness to be known as little more than a beautiful face (or body*) still makes me squeamish.
While it’s tempting to dismiss all of this as another case of the-populace-investing-too-much-in-celebrity-life, I think it can raise some questions worth considering: Where’s the line between “helping your honey” and invalidating another person’s gut instincts about what to put on their body? And who says that influencing them to align more closely with what the fashion establishment deems “cool” is actually a worthwhile endeavor?
Either way, here’s to hoping I’m wrong about Kimye: May their relationship be as un-Norvald-ish as possible, forever and ever, amen.
*Notice how I didn’t even touch the topic of Kim’s recent nude Paper Mag shoot, which is apparently either the best thing ever or highly problematic, depending on who you read. Start with this, this or this if you’re interested in opening that (generally NSFW) can of worms.