In the News: Let’s Talk Ableism

While I have formatted this blog to be a music-centric entity I have opened the door to pop culture news time and time again. And this, was not something I was going to (or even could) ignore. Kylie Jenner is working to break herself into the world of mass media like big sisters Kim, Khloe, Kourtney and Kendall. In a cover spread for Interview Magazine the newly minted 18-year-old is dressed as, essentially, a “plastic doll” in an incredibly risqué, bum bearing, ensemble. While all the shots I’ve seen are a little questionable keeping in mind that she is just 18 one has sparked a lot backlash.

The photo, featuring a doll-like Jenner looking into space sitting in a wheelchair is a hot topic on the social media- sphere since the spread came out. So, let’s talk about ableism. By definition it is discrimination in favor of able-bodied people. But it is largely discrimination or prejudice against anyone with any disability. Ableism can take the shape of ideas and stereotypes, attitudes and practices, or physical barriers in the environment, and larger scale oppression. It is often unintentional and most people are completely unaware of the impact of their words or actions.

Kylie has made a point to tell people she’s looking to be a role model, and an active anti-bullying supporter but this shoot says just the opposite. Half of me wants to just push it aside, forgive her for being young and rationalize that it was someone else’s idea. But, she said yes. She sat down. I don’t think you get that option as such a public figure. Yes, she’s barely 18. Yes her entire life has been hyper-sexualized and even more so publicized but that doesn’t forgive this like so many want it to.

The reality of fame is that all eyes are on you, whether you are 18 or 60 as someone in the media (in whatever form that is) you cannot afford to be allowing yourself to become the face of ableism or racism. You don’t want to alienate yourself in that way. But also for fans, and supporters or even just viewers we’ve become complacent in the things we see. There’s a mass shooting and until it effects us personally we don’t even bat an eye, we see 20 year old Kendall Jenner nude on a horse and we hardly mention is, so this with Kylie will likely be swept under the rug in a few news cycles. But it shouldn’t be. With the world in the state it is currently it’s our job, I believe, to say that wrong is wrong, and start doing something about it. Nothing changes until people change it, we’ve seen some clear distaste with these photos and yet nothing has been done about it. If we want something to happen people have to make it happen.

I follow Kylie on most forms of social media, I’m a little bit fascinated by the hype that surrounds the Kardashian/Jenner family and the way Kris has become ‘momager’ over mom, but I’ve had to take a break from the fascination in order to distance myself from behavior I don’t like and don’t want to support. This isn’t about politics, nor is it about music but as a young person who someday hopes to have a real platform to stand on theres one thing I just have to push and that’s that absolutely anyone can make a change for good or not if you work for it, if you refuse to back down. So go out and change the world.

“If not me, who? If not now, when?” – Emma Watson


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