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 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. I even reveled 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 $29 on? How did I get here? Of course, it’s kind of impossible to completely ignore Kim, Khloé, and the rest; 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 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 looked up to these women. 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 Go? 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 incessantly peddles on Instagram. I’d written my university dissertation on Simone de Beauvoir, for goodness' sake. I couldn’t be caring about Kris’ 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.” 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. Reader, it was, well, wonderful. Transformative, even. I was horrified. 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 Richie, it lasts all night long. Seriously, it budges for nothing. So despite the Kardashian-Jenner beauty aesthetic, which couldn't be farther away from my own beauty ideals, I decided that I was going to have to line the pockets of one of the richest families in American entertainment even more. 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 follows a Twitter account called @lipkitupdate, which lets you know when a color has been restocked. Thank god. Then, one day I got the text. “Lip Kits dropping at 6 p.m. 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 of whose entire success I disapproved. 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, you just need a kick-ass red lipstick in your life. And sometimes, you have to be a little less precious about where it comes from. Congratulations, Kylie. You’ve won me over. My lips thank you.