Now We Know The Difference Between Kim Kardashian & Kim Kardashian West

Well, she did it. In the haze of summer 2016, Kim Kardashian finally broke the internet. After weeks of dropping hints — in print and on camera — Kim finally surprised the world on Snapchat Sunday night, with video evidence that appeared to trap Taylor Swift in the singer’s own lie. Kim’s leak wasn’t an artistic achievement, but an aggrandizing one. Swift performs pettiness in diss tracks. Kim performs it on social media.

But be careful which Kardashian you commend (or criticize) when considering the #KimExposedTaylorParty. Say what you want about Kim Kardashian, but the now infamous Snapchat footage wasn’t entirely her doing. The credit falls to Kim Kardashian West, and it might be time to call attention to this subtle difference in designation.

Kanye West may be Kim’s soul mate, and the pair seems to have a deep and abiding love for one another. But the upgrade for Kim is obvious: This marriage transformed her from minx to muse. With Kanye, “nakedness” becomes “nudity.” In the two years since they wed, what was once considered headlining-grabbing oversharing has been recast as refreshing transparency.

In Kim’s GQ profile, the magazine summarized her ascension well: “Kanye West's endorsement altered the public's perception,” GQ editor Caity Weaver wrote. “Her curves remained the same, but under Kanye's exuberant insistence, they transmuted from porny to arty. Her provocative selfies were no longer just attention-seeking; now they were also body positive.” There’s no time to revisit questions about why or how Kardashian became famous when we’re all lost in the optics of her and Kanye's “Bound 2” romance. The products of their love — North and Saint West — made Kim into a mother, turning her continued sexuality into a progressive statement.

This marriage transformed Kim from minx to muse.

Kim is the Kardashian family’s greatest success story, not just quantitatively in terms of followers and retweets, but because her life as a Kardashian West shows that the family’s formula works. We’re living in a culture fueled by Kanye and Beyoncé and Drake; Black Twitter’s viral trends get co-opted by brands as mainstream as Denny’s and Chipotle. A famous white woman like Kim marrying into the Black culture that her family has spent decades adjacent to has had far-reaching effects. Since the couple's marriage in 2014, the Kardashian family has ascended to a new kind of relevance. As Kanye's wife, it's possible for Kim to weave herself into the fabric of our pop culture. For as long as we’ll be talking about Kanye, we’ll be talking about Kim, too.

Sunday’s Snapchat finally gave Kim an entry into a lasting saga that pre-dated her. Kanye famously interrupted Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs, and the pair has been feuding publicly to varying degrees ever since. Retaliating as Kardashian West allowed Kim to wiggle into the drama and become its leading lady. Suddenly she wasn’t just on the beef’s periphery, but at its center: Depending on where you stood, she was Yeezus’ honorably defensive wife, or the Swifties' anti-feminist bully.

The Kardashian-Jenner family has been accused of stealing Black men, weaponizing whiteness, and appropriating Blackness. Kim Kardashian made enough missteps early in her career for us to see the cracks in her glossy veneer, like that sex tape and her two minute-long marriages. Now that she's Kim Kardashian West, it’s harder to see those same fault lines. Marriage doesn't automatically add to one's value or worth, but being a part of this power couple broadens Kardashian's reach as a celebrity who can engage with Black Lives Matter and body positivity in a new way.

Pre-Kanye, Kim Kardashian was a run-of-the-mill celebrity. As a member of a power couple central to our pop culture news cycle — Kanye’s creativity is chaotic, and a new feud always seems to be bubbling up — she's become the calm, approachable one. He’s the artist, and she’s the administrator. As a Kardashian West, she has a uniquely compounded platform from which to stir shit up. It's not a position she takes lightly.

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