Skip to main content

Kim Kardashian West, the mega-celebrity/influencer and mother of four young children, has founded several businesses and is now studying to be a lawyer. The Keeping Up with the Kardashians star is making her living not only from television but from Instagram as well. Kardashian West, queen of selfies, is leaving a powerful legacy–most noticeably via social media. One New Yorker writer who recently dove into the mystery of the “Instagram Face” discovered that Kardashian West was a huge driver of the aesthetic.

Kim Kardashian West
Kim Kardashian West | Matt Winkelmeyer/MG18/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

What is ‘Instagram Face’?

New Yorker writer Jia Tolentino (also the author of the popular 2019 book of essays, Trick Mirror), wrote a recent piece about a particular social media phenomenon popping up all over the world. Tolentino couldn’t help but notice that across Instagram (and especially among influencer circles), women were looking more and more like one flawless, Face-tuned, dead-eyed model. She described the “single, cyborgian face” as such:

It’s a young face, of course, with poreless skin and plump, high cheekbones … [with] catlike eyes and long, cartoonish lashes; it has a small, neat nose and full, lush lips. It looks at you coyly but blankly, as if its owner has taken half a Klonopin and is considering asking you for a private-jet ride to Coachella.

The writer spoke with a celebrity makeup artist named Colby Smith about the fad.

Kim Kardashian West
Kim Kardashian West | Kevin Tachman/MG19/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

“It’s Instagram Face, duh,” Smith said. “It’s like an unrealistic sculpture. Volume on volume. A face that looks like it’s made out of clay.”

Why Kim Kardashian West is the ‘patient zero’ of Instagram Face

Tolentino names multiple models who adopt Instagram Face flawlessly: “Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, and Kendall Jenner (who looks exactly like Emily Ratajkowski).” However, Tolentino argues that Kardashian West is the one true Instagram Face to rule them all. Her face defined what it means to take a selfie on Instagram.

That’s why the makeup artist Colby Smith described Kardashian West to Tolentino as “’patient zero’ for Instagram Face.”

“Ultimately, the goal is always to look like Kim,” Smith said.

Kardashian West has indeed inspired plastic surgeries across the globe. However, the KUWTK star still maintains “she hasn’t had major plastic surgery; according to her, it’s all just Botox, fillers, and makeup.”

Kim Kardashian West’s makeup and plastic surgery inspired millions of women

Still, the celebrity plastic surgeon Jason Diamond confirmed that several of his clients want to look like Kardashian West. Diamond has several famous clients, including models like Olivia Culpo–and of course, the Kardashians themselves. When asked what most people were looking for, he said it can vary due to geography, but some desires were more constant.

“When you look at Kim, Megan Fox, Lucy Liu, Halle Berry, you’ll find elements in common,” he explained: “the high contoured cheekbones, the strong projected chin, the flat platform underneath the chin that makes a ninety-degree angle.”

However, none of those celebrity faces were as in demand as Kim Kardashian West’s.

“I’d say that thirty percent of people come in bringing a photo of Kim, or someone like Kim,” Diamond said. “She’s at the very top of the list, and understandably so.”

Kim Kardashian West
Kim Kardashian West attends the 2019 Creative Arts Emmy Awards | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Sure, we don’t all dream of looking like Kardashian West. However, the makeup artists and cosmetic surgeons to the stars confirm that many people very much do.