Some Fans Are Uncomfortable With The Way Kim Kardashian West Is Using Alice Johnson In Her SKIMS Shapewear Campaign
Last year, Kim Kardashian West helped to free great grandmother Alice Marie Johnson from a life in prison due to a first-time, nonviolent drug offense.
Since then, Johnson and Kardashian West have remained close. Johnson and her family have come over to the Wests’ home for dinner, and the reality star and entrepreneur even penned the foreword for Johnson’s memoir, After Life: My Journey from Incarceration to Freedom.
Recently, Johnson can be seen modeling Kardashian West’s new line of shapewear, SKIMS, in one of the venture’s new campaigns.
In the promotional video, Johnson is wearing the black sculpting bodysuit and talking about how the shapewear empowers her.
“I was serving a 25-year sentence without the possibility of parole. Kim saw a video of me. She heard my story. She said, ‘This is so unfair.’ And by the way, I didn’t even know who Kim Kardashian was,” Johnson says in the video. “She went to war for me to fight for my freedom. That’s why I call her my ‘war angel,’ because nothing stood between her and my freedom.”
She continues: “I was set free on June the 6th 2018. So now every moment in life is precious to me. This shapewear makes me feel that I can walk into the store, I can pick up something that I normally wouldn’t think about wearing and I can put it on, and it’s going to look great on me.”
“This shapewear makes me feel free!” Johnson proclaims at the end of the video.
The public response
Kardashian posted the video to her Instagram and several commenters voiced their discomfort over Johnson’s involvement in the campaign.
“okay it’s kinda corny to compare her freedom from unjust incarceration to buying your shape-wear “25 to life, you’ll feel just as free”- haters will say I’m hating,” commented one Instagram user.
“Oh okay get a woman out of prison then use her to sell you’re product I love ya Kim but that’s not cool,” commented another.
“This is so bizarre,” wrote another.
Generally, what people seem to be taking issue with is the insensitive wording. Johnson was in prison for over 20 years. The word ‘free’ here feels cheap and exploitive. We don’t know who penned the SKIMS promotional copy, but it feels like the work of a PR company capitalizing on something that shouldn’t be a gimmick, rather than Johnson’s own words.
This is strike two for Kim Kardashian West’s new shapewear line
This is the second strike against Kardashian West’s new shapewear line. The brand was originally named Kimono, but after receiving backlash citing cultural appropriation, the entrepreneur changed the name to SKIMS.
Kardashian West listened to her fans’ concerns over the brand’s name–will she pull the promotional video featuring Johnson, too?
Now that Kardashian West is dedicating a portion of her life to bettering our justice system, it behooves her to be particularly thoughtful of the messaging her various business ventures are broadcasting.