Up until earlier this year I was quietly proud of the fact that I’d never seen an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, or, indeed, any one of the spin-off shows in which various members of the clan ‘take’ somewhere (Miami, The Hamptons), whatever that actually means. I was blissful in my ignorance; I assumed the show's acronym, KUWTK, was a post-dubstep DJ, and Dash was merely a piece of punctuation. As a person who hates to not have the answer to something, I revelled in being clueless about supporting characters – Tyga, Blac Chyna – a questionable crew united by poor spelling. So why did I recently find myself filling all of my personal details into Kylie Jenner’s cosmetics website and furiously refreshing the page as I tried to purchase a red lipstick called Mary Jo K that I was willing to spend £35 (including shipping) on? How did I get here? Of course it’s kind of impossible to completely give Kim, Khloe et al a wide berth, such is their pervasion of the media. But the more I saw them rise, the more I resisted. Call me a cultural snob but sometimes I like to turn my head away from anything with mass appeal, which is why, for instance, you won’t find me hunting Pokémon either. When I saw young girls who were obsessed with the Kardashian-Jenners it made me sad that they were the women they'd chosen to look up to. What about female musicians or writers or politicians? Was this what we’d come to? What did the Kardashians really offer anyone besides selfies and, although I've never actually played them, what I'm pretty sure are even worse mobile games than Pokémon? A 25-year-old friend of mine watched the show obsessively and we’d argue about the family’s significance all the time. I’d practically storm out of her house if she insisted on tuning in to the show on E!. She even bought one of those waist trainers the family peddle incessantly on Instagram. I’d written my university dissertation on Simone de Beauvoir, for goodness sake. I couldn’t be caring about Kris’s latest boyfriend or laughing at Scott Disick’s one-liners.
Reader, it was, well, wonderful. Transformative even. I was horrified.
And then, and then. This year at Glastonbury I asked my friend, the Kardashian aficionado, if she had any lipstick I could borrow. I’d left mine on the other side of the festival and wasn’t much tempted to wade through mud for an hour in search of my Ruby Woo. And so she offered up what she had on her: Kylie Jenner’s bloody lip kit. I balked. “C’mon,” she said. “You’ll like it, it’s really good.” And so up at the Park stage I let her apply Mary Jo K on me. She could barely contain her glee in finally getting me to abandon all my principles and smear that Jenner-branded red goop all over my lips. And? Reader, it was, well, wonderful. Transformative even. I was horrified. And it wasn’t just me who appreciated its lip plumping properties and velvety finish. I had friends old and new telling me how great it looked. “But it’s Kylie Jenner's lip kit!” I wailed in reply, deeply conflicted. I had to face facts: it was a damn good product, and not one that I’ve come across elsewhere. And just like Lionel, it lasts all night long. Seriously, it budges for nothing. So despite the Kardashian-Jenner beauty aesthetic, one that riffs off of plastic surgery and contouring – things that couldn't be further away from my own beauty ideals, I decided there was only one thing for it. I was going to have to line the pockets of one of the richest families in American entertainment even further. I was going to have to get one. Now, this stuff isn’t exactly easy to procure. Jenner’s lip kits regularly sell out within minutes of being restocked. After going online, weeping as I typed the words “Kylie Jenner lip kit buy” into Google, I soon discovered it was completely sold out. More tears. I mentioned this to my friend and she said she’d give me the heads up on when a new batch was to be released. After all, she followed a Twitter account called @lipkitupdate which lets you know when a colour was restocked. Thank god. Then one day I got the text. “Lip kits dropping at 6pm GMT. Be fast!”
And that’s how I found myself on my laptop that dark, dark day, perfectly happy to hand over my money to a teenager whose entire success I disapproved of. When what you want doesn’t align with your values, it can be confusing. Carrying Jenner merchandise was just so… off-brand for me. I don’t think the Kardashian-Jenners are bad people, I merely wish they didn’t wield such influence over impressionable young women; that they didn’t command the attention and admiration of so many. But sometimes, to paraphrase Gwyneth Paltrow, sometimes you just need a kick-ass red lipstick in your life. And you have to be a little less precious about where that comes from. Congratulations, Kylie. You’ve won me over. My lips thank you.