It’s no secret that the Black community and the Kardashians have had a long and complicated relationship since the family made their debut on television in 2007. Black women in particular, have had to endure everything from exploitation and appropriation when it comes to the KarJenner family.
It’s why you hardly ever see Black women touting the family’s many business ventures, such as products from Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics and Khloé Kardashian’s Good American denim brand. However, Skims, Kim Kardashian’s shapewear-clothing brand, changed that narrative.
According to Skims, the solutions-oriented brand was created to set new standards by providing high-quality wear for everybody. Body-contouring lounge and shapewear combined with buttery-soft undergarments that stretch twice its size. The brand claims to consistently innovate traditional shapewear in an attempt to advance the undergarment and loungewear industry.
Since the launch of Skims, there’s been much debate on whether or not Black women should be giving their hard-earned money to a Kardashian–perhaps the most high-profile and controversial, at that– as opposed to less controversial people and brands.
There have been promising competitors like Lizzo’s Yitty and Jayda Cheaves Waydamin brand. There’s also been an influx of people opting to buy Amazon dupes (which is no better, as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos doesn’t have the best reputation either). Still, our feeds have been filled with Black women purchasing the original Skims.
Los Angeles-based content creator Rahel Brhane believes Black women should shop and support brands that prioritize the community.
“Personally, I wouldn’t want to align myself with the Kardashians who have been accused of cultural appropriation [to] benefit themselves while exploiting Black culture,” Brhane tells ESSENCE GU. “It just doesn’t feel good to me to support them.”
In 2022, Skims approached the Eritrean-German creator to promote their products, however Brhane respectfully declined.
“They reached out and offered me a fraction of my usual rate to promote their products. Brand identity aside, the rate itself was a great reason to decline the offer.”
Within the last few months, we’ve seen Black female celebrities like SZA, Tyra Banks, Ice Spice, and Coco Jones model for the brand. Now that Skims has been named the official underwear partner of the NBA and WNBA, a sport filled with predominantly Black players, it begs the question – are we comfortable with overlooking the cultural appropriation to support a woman who has profited a persona based on Black women?
And let’s face it, in this day and age, there aren’t many unproblematic options to choose from. Content creator Aleya Antoine says Black creators, influencers, and celebrities should not be judged for wearing the brand.
“I believe that the decision to shop at a particular company should be left up to the individual, as it can be a difficult choice to make,” says the 21-year-old. “As a Black woman, I often struggle with balancing how companies cater to the Black community versus the quality of their products.”
Antoine, who has previously partnered with Skims, says she would never discourage a Black woman from shopping at Skims or any other company.
“I recognize how tiring it can be to constantly analyze and scrutinize every potential purchase.”
Likewise, Brhane says she doesn’t judge Black women who choose to shop from the brand, however, she does stress the importance of shopping with Black-owned brands such as GrindLikeADoll and LAPP The Brand.
“I think shifting focus on our community is always a win,” says Brhane.