Full disclosure: I quite like Kim Kardashian. A few of my friends have threatened to disown me because of it. But my fondness is quite unapologetic. I’m not a closet fan nor a die-hard fan (no excessive kontouring for me); I just enjoy her presence in the world. She’s fascinating as a pop culture phenomenon. She can project so many opposing traits at once. She can be lowbrow and highbrow, aloof and affable, wholesome and scandalous, yet she’s always Kim. In Selfish, the selfie queen plays all the parts, from her days as Paris Hilton’s sidekick (or assistant?) to Kimye. As we witnessed in her Super Bowl commercial, Ms. West is self-aware of the image she created, and approaches it with a sense of humour (she does acknowledge her “signature Juicy sweat suit” of yesteryear). Almost each selfie in this 445-page book features a one or two sentence (handwritten!) commentary by Kim: “Swimsuit selfies are my favourite” and “I took a selfie at a red light while driving. I think that’s illegal now.”
What’s truly engaging about Selfish is that it portrays a female celebrity through her own gaze. It’s a collection of images representing how she wanted to be seen, whether the photos were taken for herself, her family, her lovers, or her 30 million Instagram followers. Just like traditional self-portraits, it’s the artist (and thanks to Rizzoli, we can call her that now) that’s in control. And she has controlled every single aspect of her career, from the infamous sex tape to social media domination. There’s no doubt there is a great pride in her manufactured image. Through hundreds of glam shots, Kim pays tribute to her glam squad, that makes sure this diva is always pixel perfect. “I can look at any photo of myself and can tell who did my hair and makeup, where I was and who I was with,” Kim writes. Wakeup, makeup, shoot, repeat.
P.S. Slate‘s Laura Bennett calls Selfish Kim’s “masterpiece.” I wouldn’t go that far, but it is pretty fantastic.