As we’re all well aware, Kim Kardashian is no stranger to controversy.

Over the span of her career, Kim has been accused of promoting toxic diet culture, donning blackface, and committing so many instances of cultural appropriation it’s hard to keep count.

This problematic behavior has bled into Kim’s foray into the fashion industry, where she immediately appropriated Japanese culture by naming her shapewear line Kimono (It was only after intense backlash and the viral hashtag #KimOhNo that Kim decided to rethink the brand name.) And, most recently, she came under fire for announcing the launch of her Skims Essentials shapewear collection in the middle of a global pandemic.

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Too often, Kim’s choices are either vaguely out-of-touch or outright offensive. However, the worst part is that they always feel very, very calculated. As the Kardashian family is well aware, there’s no faster way to get your product, your brand or, simply, your name in the press by attaching it to some controversial remarks and letting the internet do its due diligence. In turn, the Kardashians have created their very own news cycle of sorts: cause a controversy, watch their names blow up in the press, offer a half-baked apology, profit. Lather, rinse, repeat.

It might seem intuitive to simply cut everything Kim Kardashian-related from your life and demand that others do the same.

But what if you really love the products she puts out?

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After all, Kardashian’s personal blunders aside, there is much to be admired about her Skims brand. For one, it’s focused on diversity and size-inclusivity at a level unmatched by its competitors. Marketed as “a solution for every body,” Skims offers up to nine skin tonal shades for its garments (though not all shades are available for each item). Additionally, Skims sizes range from XXS/XS through 4X/5X. (Comparatively, competitor Spanx offers only four tonal shades and sizes through 3X.) They also make a huge effort to include women of all shapes and skin tones in all of their marketing materials and on their website.

Overall, Skims products are well-reviewed and affordable-ish: a standard Skims Sculpting Short retails at $34, while Spanx offers a similar item for a whopping $58.

And, to be completely transparent, Skims loungewear is pretty damn cute.

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Additionally, to banish Kardashian brands completely would be to ignore the positive causes that Kim Kardashian has championed throughout her celebrity tenure. Kim has inarguably made notable strides to use her influence in positive ways, including her advocacy for prison reform and her pleas for gun control. She’s also currently donating 20% of the profits from her Cotton Collection to Baby2Baby‘s COVID-19 Emergency Response Program. But do those intermittent moments of goodwill outweigh her problematic choices?

It’s hard to argue that Kim’s controversial behavior warrants complete cancel culture, à la R. Kelly, where we should all collectively agree to stop supporting her business ventures.

But it does beg the question: where do we draw the line? If we continue to purchase Kardashian-helmed products, are we by default refusing to hold her accountable for her actions? And if Kim never has to face any consequences, why would she ever have any motivation to change her behavior?

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At the end of the day, choosing whose products you will and won’t support is a decision you have to make for yourself. You can spend your money however you see fit. And, seeing that we’ll be barricaded in our homes for the foreseeable future, buying a tank top that is essentially an extension of your bedspread may just be where fashion is headed, anyway.

Kim Kardashian will continue to be wildly successful, whether you support her or not, no matter how many controversial missteps she makes in the months and years ahead. But even if you love Kim Kardashian’s products, there is something to be said about investing in small businesses that carry similar items rather than funneling your money into the bank account of a media mogul who nets tens of millions every year.

There are plenty of shapewear and loungewear alternatives to Skims that are sustainably and ethically made and are just as cute. And the fact that they come without a history of cultural appropriation and diet culture is a real bonus. Maybe it’s time to give one of them a try.

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Categories: Style & Beauty