‘The Jenner genes definitely helped her’: Kardashians, Jenners and the intersectional politics of thinness

Gemma Cobb

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Pro-anorexia online spaces have received widespread criticism for their endorsement of anorexia nervosa via the posting of advice on self-starvation and images of thin models and celebrities known as ‘thinspiration’. They are considered marginal spaces for individuals who wish to maintain anorexia, and they are consequently subject to deletion and censorship by Internet moderators, and vilification by the Press. In spite of this, I suggest that their conception of thinness overlaps with that which is perpetuated by the mainstream media. Analysis of the representation of model and celebrity Kendall Jenner, who appears regularly in the mainstream media and pro-anorexia spaces alike, reveals this. Therefore, in this article, I interrogate the construction of the thin ideal in a celebrity gossip site’s discussion thread on Kendall. She is initially presented as the embodiment of ideal thinness through the castigation and othering of her Kardashian sisters who are cruelly derided. As the thread progresses however and Kendall grows up, she is gradually denied her thinspirational status. I argue that the veneration and denigration of Kendall Jenner exposes the transience of the thin ideal and its attendant anxieties. Using intersectionality as my critical paradigm, I explore the way in which a number of privileges are required to fulfil the thin ideal. As a result, I propose that it is young, middle-class, white femininity which is considered ‘thinspirational’.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)173-192
    Number of pages20
    JournalCritical Studies in Fashion & Beauty
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


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