Kim Kardashian has taken a break from making others study diligently to secure her law degree, and decided to offend some Japanese people. She’s done this by releasing a line of ‘shapewear’ and patenting the brand name ‘Kimono’ for it. While she was at it, she also patented ‘Kimono Body’ and ‘Kimono Intimates’, which is said to focus on whips, bags and dog harnesses. As a result, she’s been accused of cultural appropriation, something that’s deeply offended Japanese internet users who argue a kimono is a traditional and formal garment from Japanese culture.
But, before the Kimono whips hit the market, you can now sign up for Kim’s ‘shape solutions’. A solution to what you might ask? Aside from a product for those who have always longed to squeeze themselves into a terracotta condom instead of cycling to work, the shapewear is meant to combat an age-old problem; matching the colour of one’s underwear to their skin. Something that’s -rather worryingly- occupied Kim’s mind “for the past 15 years”. So, if ever you thought it took a flexible, genius and powerful mind to make millions, think again.
Even though the two garments are about as similar as the Sistine Chapel and a McDonald’s toilet, Twitter was not pleased. Responses ranged from “the Japanese government should file a protest against Kardashian” to:
The underwear debacle is not the first time Kim has been accused of cultural appropriation. She previously took some flack for wearing an Indian headpiece, appearing in what looked like blackface and for releasing a purse that looked like a Chinese take out. But, with the Kimono range, she decided to do it properly and had Kanye ‘design’ the logo.
Not a great effort, but it shows that he is proficient in Microsoft Paint. Who would have thought?
So, why all the angry Tweets? Surely anyone silly enough to sign up to Kim’s waiting list for earth coloured underwear isn’t a threat to an age-old Japanese tradition? Besides, a bit of Googling will tell you that the Kimono originates from the Chinese Wu regions before the Japanese claimed it in the 10th century when it presumably was nicked by the Japanese Kim of the time.
But, some say that’s apples and oranges. According to Professor Sheila Cliffe of the Jumonji Women’s University, a Kimono is graceful elegant and “not overly revealing or figure-hugging”. Seems a bit old fashioned for a professor of a Woman’s University to spend her valuable time explaining to the BBC what underwear is like. Besides, it’s not like in a matter of weeks the word Kimono will be associated with underwear, causing massive confusion and embarrassment at Japanese weddings and funerals.
If you want to stick it to Kim, save yourself the frothing at the mouth, and stop giving her the publicity she so desires. For as long as it’s legal to name your caravan after the Colosseum, there will be Kardashians making money off it. If you really feel like bursting into a Twitter war worthy of a world leader, remember she probably just picked the name because it starts with ‘Kim’, not knowing where Japan is on a map.