I have a lot of respect for Kylie Jenner. At just 19 years old, she's established herself as one of the country's more formidable entrepreneurs — friends of mine waited in line for over three hours to get a chance to shop her clothing line in the flesh, and I don't blame them. When it comes to celebrity makeup lines, Jenner is peerless. Her new releases regularly sell out within hours, and the reality television personality is a closet philanthropist — she quietly raised half a million dollars for children with cleft palates with one of her Lip Kits. At 19, I'd only just discovered how to "select all" on Microsoft Word. Needless to say, I count Kylie Jenner as pretty admirable woman.
This is exactly why her recent Instagram posts have me feeling sad. Or, I suppose I'm disappointed. Jenner shared two images of herself smoking what appears to be a joint. She's half-clothed, fully made-up, and oozing sex appeal. I take issue with neither smoking nor sex appeal on their own. I do, however, dislike the association between the two. When Kylie Jenner, a woman who has a significant teen following on the internet, shares an image of herself smoking and looking cool, a fallacy is born.
Here's the unfortunate logic: What's that? Kylie Jenner, the most glamorous teen on my newsfeed, smokes? Well then, I suppose I can smoke, too. In fact, should I take up smoking to look cooler?
This is the exact logic that tobacco companies have employed in their advertising for years. Seeing as social media stars frequently advertise on their channels, Jenner's post could plausibly have been sponsored content. Granted, it's likely not, given that Jenner is probably smoking a joint. Marijuana suppliers aren't nearly as aggressive as big tobacco when it comes to advertising (because — and I don't know if you've heard this yet — marijuana's mostly not legal. It's pretty hard to advertise for something that's against the law.)
Jenner's fans seem to be divided on the post. Some, like me, are disappointed. One commenter writes, "Why you smoking girl" with a frowning emoji. Others like her more for the post. One writes, "@KylieJenner just posted a pic smoking a joint and now I love her more." There are some problematic responses in there, too. For example, someone isn't "trashy" for smoking, okay? (Actually, while we're here, let's put a moratorium on the "trashy," period.)
Kylie, I respect you. I endorse your right to be autonomous. But it's disheartening to see you glamorize the act of smoking. I think we can all agree that the jury's not out on cigarette smoking — the habit is just plain bad for your health. Marijuana is still up in the air, but, hey, smoke is smoke, and the image sticks.