BY TAMAR KEVONIAN
“I am Armenian, so of course I am obsessed with laser hair removal! Arms, bikini, legs, underarms…my entire body is hairless.” This is the latest quote from Kim Kardashian who will grace the cover of the September 2010 issue of Allure magazine.
Just in case you just emerged from the jungles of Borneo, Kim Kardashian is the oldest daughter of attorney Robert Kardashian who famously assembled OJ Simpson’s criminal defense team. She was known as Paris Hilton’s sidekick and emerged from Paris’ shadows only when, a few years ago, a sex tape of her with Ray J, an R&B singer, exploded onto the media circuit.
Now, she is the star, along with her sisters Khloe and Kourtney, of “Keeping up with the Kardashians,” a popular reality television program. She is famous for dating African-American men, her feature in Playboy magazine and her full-bodied Armenian “booty” of which she is very proud.
Recently, Kourtney, during an interviewed on “Chelsea Lately” with Kim to promote their upcoming season, revealed that her and her mother, Kris Jenner, had gone on a mission to find Kim an Armenian man. To do this, they made a pilgrimage to Glendale. “She thinks that Glendale is Armenia,” Kourtney says. “‘We’re in the land of your people,” she quotes Kris, to which she responds, “Mom, this is Glendale,” meaning that they were in a city in the United States. The studio audience laughs heartily at the anecdote.
Today, amongst the masses, they are the best known Armenians in the United States. Love them or hate them, everyone has an opinion about the Kardashians, as evidenced by the many “likes” and several comments my recent Facebook (the popular social networking site) posting received when I reproduced the quote from Allure magazine.
“Too funny!!! Love it!” wrote Mary. “BTW [by the way], she forgets the Italian side from her Mom’s side. As I remember, her grandmother Helen was a blond, blue-eyed lady. She didn’t look too hairy to me.”
“Dear Tamar at first my jaw dropped when reading your post, I thought it was your statement. Now that I know it was Kim’s it’s not as shocking,” commented Mark.
“Oh God… is there anything redeeming about that woman being Armenian?” said Mel.
She is perceived as a woman with an off kilter moral compass who is beautiful but without much of a thinking mind.
Still many agree with Mel in that they see Kim’s claiming of her ethnicity as reflecting negatively on the Armenian race as a whole.
And yet, in the popularity contest of mass media, she has taken the mantle away from Cher, our last generation’s Armenian celebrity who also incited strong emotions during her heyday. Cher’s relationship with her Armenian roots was tumultuous and she preferred to claim her Cherokee heritage rather her Armenian one. Still, she claimed it long enough to visit Armenia in the months following the earthquake in 1988 but has never really publicly proclaimed it since nor has she followed up on her altruistic impulse.
In contrast, the Kardashian sisters proudly flaunt their Armenian origins while mostly ignoring their Italian half – the first mass market celebrity to do so – the list of names of those who don’t is far too long to mention here. The sisters are hailed as “resident Armenians” during television appearances, have culled the cultural treasure trove for inspiration for their jewelry line and proudly flaunt the clichéd characteristics of being Armenian.
It is a well know fact that Armenians in general, both men and women, have an overabundance of body hair. It is also a well known secret that those afflicted with this symptom, both men and women, freely partake of the service of their local waxing lady – as evidenced by the public display of perfectly groomed symmetrical eyebrows.
It is also a well know fact that many Armenians live in Glendale and, although we hate to admit it, where our mothers try to find the perfect Armenian mate for us. As a result of their efforts, perfectly matched Armenian couples engage in sexual intercourse and eventual produce children – thus proving that we are not a result of immaculate conception as those very same mothers had us believing during our younger years.
The success of the show, its offshoots, the financial rewards and the garnering of continuous media attention attests to Kim’s intellectual savvy, at the very least she was smart enough to hire a very good advisor.
So what exactly is it that we hate about Kim Kardashian? Is it that she is beautiful, has made the most of her famous curves in a way so many others have failed, has sex and is sexual without repercussion, is wealthy or that she is popular? Are we simply jealous and wish we could be her? Or is it the cultural phenomenon of not helping a fellow Armenian – in extension, pulling them down when they rise above the fray – a trend Hrair from last week’s entry “The Concerned Citizen,” has expressed concern about.
Armenians in the U.S. would gain much by embracing Kim Kardashian. The advantages start with greater awareness of Armenians in general because, as the saying goes, there’s “no such thing as bad publicity,” meaning that, regardless of their opinion, people are still giving their time and attention to a topic. Another is discussing taboo subjects such as body hair and voluptuous body parts, that many in the community spend so much effort shamefully covering up. Finally, it is showing pride in the heritage by simply claiming they are Armenian without excuses, apology or explanation.