Few families have the concept of monetizing their celebrity the way the Kardashians do. Sure, they didn’t invent the idea of parlaying minor fame into reality TV megastardom. But they did pull off the impressive feat of evolving their notoriety over time.
Unlike many of their aughts predecessors in the reality TV industry, the Kardashians held on when social media arrived. More than that, actually — they defined what it means to be a celebrity in online spaces. But some of the famous family’s fans find their all-in attitude to be off-putting, particularly when it comes to their paid influencer posts on social media.
The Kardashians are deep into the business of Instagram advertising
Makeup and diet product advertisements account for much of the Kardashian/Jenner social media business. The posts are usually succinct, accompanied by text explaining how they definitely use these products. From the ubiquitous flat tummy tea boosting to Kim Kardashian’s constant waist trainer posts, the products these women hawk appear everywhere on their social media accounts.
Every single paid advertisement brings in six-figure payments. That is per post, as Refinery29 reports. Apparently, there are even higher rates for products with any liability attached. Any product a follower will ingest, like certain pharmaceuticals or diet products? An extra fee helps mitigate the risk and keeps fly-by-night companies off of the Kardashians’ packed schedules.
Even the Kardashians’ fans think they look foolish as they sell some of these products
Product placement has long been written off as part of the business of celebrity. The paradigm of the “influencer” on social media has normalized the premise more than ever before. People, not least the Kardashians, don’t seem to feel much shame for monetizing their online presence.
But some fans, on the Keeping Up With the Kardashians Reddit page, think some of these products reflect poorly on the family. “The off brand air pods kills me,” one commenter wrote about Kylie Jenner promoting pink air pods that clearly aren’t made by Apple. “As if she’d ever use them.” Another Redditor commented, “How is a millionaire promoting fake air pods? She’s literally posted about having real ones before.”
Fans (and critics) have a point. When it’s obvious that the person hawking a product would never truly use it, the advertisement becomes even harder to believe.
Another commenter was even less charitable with their take: “You look like f–king clowns,” they wrote regarding Kourtney Kardashian’s posts about tummy flattening teas and edible hair-health products. Perhaps even for people born of the reality TV world, there is a line where their image crosses from lucrative businesswomen to simple tackiness.
Some of the products boosted by the Kardashians are straight-up awful
The quality of the products hawked by the Kardashians often come into question — not just by cranky Redditors, but by mainstream journalists and healthcare specialists. Shady AirPods clones are one thing; diet products are another.
The Washington Post reports that Kim’s go-to influencer posts about waist trainers border on grifting. There is little evidence that they work as described, yet ample evidence exists that they can do harm.
Most infamously, the tummy flattening teas face criticism for causing digestive issues. Yahoo reports that many doctors consider these supposedly detoxifying products as outright scams. They’re packed with anodyne ingredients like peppermint, which can easily be obtained in one’s normal diet. But they also contain laxatives, which give them their much-vaunted “de-bloating” properties.
The problem: Laxatives are recommended only when needed, rather than as part of a regular dietary regimen. Repeated use can lead to digestive issues for some people. It also leads to dehydration, which has the ironic effect of limiting the body’s natural detoxification processes. Maybe the Kardashians should focus on boosting products that involve fewer controversies. Until then, their Reddit community will continue to roast them online.