THE ART OF BEING UNDERESTIMATED

Perhaps no female celebrity has been more fatally underestimated than Kim Kardashian. For years, everyone from anonymous Twitter users to cultural gatekeepers dismissed her as an empty-headed fame whore — only to watch her blithely monetize the very things that supposedly made her a joke, from her makeup routine to her selfies to her desire for fame. Now the buxom branding genius sits on a leopard-print throne atop a multi-million-dollar empire, laughing at the haters.

 

Kim is a handy unofficial barometer of social trends, so let us consider the possibility that she’s onto something. Maybe being underestimated — especially for daring to behave in stereotypically feminine ways, or even just for being a woman in the first place — isn’t a weakness; it’s a secret weapon. No less than Joan Didion, probably the anti-Kardashian, has noted the power of seeming like a nonthreatening girl. “My only advantage as a reporter is that I am so physically small, so temperamentally unobtrusive, and so neurotically inarticulate that people tend to forget that my presence runs counter to their best interests,” she wrote in Slouching Towards Bethlehem. “And it always does.”

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