Featured in every celebrity magazine, website or social media feed, the reality TV star and her family have reached academic circles with the first ever research conference on the Kardashian family to be held in Britain.
Researchers will discuss how the reality star Kim Kardashian and the cultural significance of her famously large derriere has helped shaped feminism and beauty as seen today.
The Kardashian family have featured on reality TV for almost a decade, publishing books, launching beauty products and hosting beyond lavish wedding ceremonies. And now for the first time, the effect of one of the most superficial families is having on society will be scrutinized by academics.
Conference organizer Meredith Jones, reader in sociology and cultural studies at Brunel told Sputnik that the Kardashians "have reached some sort of pinnacle that’s been forced through in popular culture which embodies different trends in popular culture that society deals with every day".
The so-called 'Kimposium' will trace how the daughters of the late Robert Kardashian, who was part of OJ Simpson’s legal team during the mid-1990s murder trial, were propelled from the fringes of celebrity culture into public conscience in many parts of the world – despite having no obvious talent. Dr Jones told Sputnik:
"She’s an extreme and by looking at what she’s doing with her body we can learn about trends and desires that 'normal' people have about their own bodies."
Jones suggests that the phenomenon behind the success of Kim Kardashian is that she doesn’t meet the mainstream ideal of beauty.
"She’s not blonde, she’s not light skinned, she’s not particularly skinny or tall and yet she has worked with the body she has got and presents it in ways that some perceive as beautiful."
When challenged as to why Kim Kardashian has helped shape the perception of what it deemed as beautiful today, Dr Jones told Sputnik that one of the main factors was the rise of a more middle class Latino population in the US.
"We’re now getting wealthy Latino communities moving into the middle classes and they’re not going to put up with bodily role models that look nothing like them."
"If you look at white communities, most women won’t meet the standards of a white super model but they’re closer than Latino women. By the same token most women can’t achieve the body she has – but it’s a closer body to aspire to for a growing population of society."
Jones admits that it’s a very "privileged" body, subject to strict gym routines and diets. Yet it’s seen as more achievable and accessible than the bodies of super-models, who according to Jones "are like a different species".
"Kim Kardashian is clearly human."
Aisling O’Connor, fashion and culture writer, who is presenting two papers at the conference, told Sputnik that the family has become an "expertly crafted moving target".
"Faced with hundreds of news stories, blog posts and fashion reports — in my own news feeds- each day on Kim, her siblings, parents and entourage, I joked to a colleague that they are an expertly crafted moving target."
O’Connor is exploring "the unprecedented rise of the Kardashians, the mixed messages their perceived lifestyles and media products communicate to their fans, and what the phenomenon says about our society".
As for why the 'Kimposium' should exist in the first place and for the first time, O’Connor defends the program suggesting that it reflects "the mass personal-image and self-branding explosion in the age of social media, the sociocultural impact of younger generations increasingly relying on celebrity lifestyle for mentorship, and the double-edged sword that is an open-book life".
So with academics arguing that there is a serious debate to be held about the Kardashian family, it appears there is more society can learn from the story behind the big bottom.