TIME celebrities

North West Looks Just as Stylish as Her Mom

Baby North West has her own stylist, apparently

This toddler has her own stylist, apparently, who doubles as a tailor. Which is fitting, because North West often dresses like mom, Kim Kardashian. From matching black lace outfits at the Givenchy show in Paris to coordinated grey tops for an overnight flight, Nori tends to sport miniature versions of her mom’s wardrobe, whether it be dresses, handbags or shoes. The tot’s outfits are a reportedly planned months in advance so that she and mom can look alike for most public appearances.

TIME beauty

Here’s Kim Kardashian and North at Fashion Week

All black everything

PARIS : Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and North West at the Balenciaga fashion show.
Kim Kardashian, her husband Kanye West and their Daughter North West go the Balenciaga fashion show, in Paris on Sept. 24, 2014. Antoine Cau—Sipa

The reality star favors no-frills, no bows, monochrome outfits for baby North, that often match her own high fashion looks. Kardashian’s no-pink-on-my-daughter stance is good because it shows that everything doesn’t have to be ‘for boys’ or ‘for girls,” says Lori Duron, author of the blog RaisingMyRainbow.com about making traditional gender definitions less rigid.

TIME celebrities

Kim Kardashian Among Targets in Latest Alleged Nude-Photo Leak

Previously unseen photos of Jennifer Lawrence are also said to be included

Updated Sept. 21, 2:11 p.m. E.T.

Naked photos purportedly showing Kim Kardashian and other celebrities have been posted online in the second major theft and publication of stars’ private photos this past month.

Pictures said to be of Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens, Hayden Panettiere, Mary-Kate Olsen, Hope Solo, Kaley Cuoco and Aubrey Plaza were posted on the site 4chan and quickly spread on Reddit on Saturday, the Daily Beast reports.

Previously unseen photos of Jennifer Lawrence are also said to be included in the latest batch. According to comments in the Reddit thread devoted to discussing the photos, the latest hacking may also include photos of underage Disney stars.

A rep for Kardashian declined to comment to multiple publications. Actress Gabrielle Union released a statement about the leak, calling whoever had leaked them “vultures.”

“I can’t help but to be reminded that since the dawn of time women and children, specifically women of color, have been victimized, and the power over their own bodies taken from them,” Union said in a statement with her husband Dwyane Wade, according to TMZ. “These atrocities against women and children continue worldwide.”

The actress’s legal team is contacting the FBI to investigate the theft and publication of the photos.

The theft comes a few weeks after photos of Lawrence, Kate Upton and close to 100 others were published online in August, just before Labor Day. A rep for Lawrence confirmed that the photos belonged to the actress and called them a “flagrant violation of privacy,” saying that “authorities [had] been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence.” A spokesperson for singer Ariana Grande, another a purported victim of the incident, said the photos were fake.

“I think it’s a wake-up call for people to make sure they have every privacy setting,” Kardashian said of the hacking during a radio interview earlier this month. “It seems like there are a lot of people that love to spend their time hacking people’s information, and that’s just a scary thing.”

TIME Television

Watch Nasim Pedrad’s Spot-On Aziz Ansari Impression in This Unaired Saturday Night Live Sketch

Almost as good as her Kim Kardashian

On last night’s Conan, former SNL star Nasim Pedrad gave a little taste of what could have been. She said she constantly pushed for the opportunity to impersonate Aziz Ansari — and though it finally happened, the sketch never aired. O’Brien said he got a hold of the footage and shared it with his audience.

First, of course, O’Brien chatted with Pedrad about her very popular Kim Kardashian impression — and her experience meeting Kim in person. The conversation soon shifted to other people Pedrad had wanted to play, and that’s when she revealed her steadfast mission to buck the odds and play Aziz Ansari. “The producers were always like, ‘Hey, what about this week you play a pretty gal?’ and I was always like, ‘Or, what if I play another small man?'”

Sadly, Pedrad won’t be returning to SNL this season, so her dreams of playing Ansari on air will never become a reality. Too bad — we would have loved to see her perfect the classic Tom Haverford face.

TIME Music

Kanye West Halts Show Urging Fan in Wheelchair to Stand Up

Realizes mistake too late

Kanye West is used to getting his way, and when he doesn’t — well, you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

“I decided I can’t do this song, I can’t do the rest of the show until everybody stands up,” West said this weekend during one of his concerts in Sydney, Australia, on the tail end of his Yeezus tour. “Unless you got a handicap pass and you get special parking and sh-t.”

Actually, some of his fans did qualify for a handicap pass, special parking and all. It just took Kanye a long time to realize it. West held up his show and singled out two fans who remained seated (and whom were even initially booed by the rest of the audience for seemingly refusing to get up.) “This is the longest I’ve had to wait to do a song, it’s unbelievable,” a frustrated West told the crowd.

Mr. Kim Kardashian eventually figured out the error of his ways after one fan nearly pulled an Aviva Drescher, the Daily Beast reports, and waved a prosthetic limb around the air; concert-goers near the second fan, who was in a wheelchair, tried to signal the fan’s disability to West, who waited for some additional verification before continuing the show. “Now if he is in a wheelchair, then it’s fine,” West said during the exchange, which you can watch in full above.

TIME History

The Most Anticipated Babies of All Time

We list 'em all, from the Royal Baby to "Fetus King" Shapur II.

Britain's Prince William and Kate Duchess of Cambridge and the Prince
John Stillwell—AP

“Royal Baby” mania carries on today as the British monarchy announced that Kate Middleton and Prince William are expecting a second child — who will become fourth in the line to the throne— just a little more than a year after Prince George was born on July 22, 2013. Here, we look back at other famous offspring who attracted a lot of media attention.

  • North West

    Singer Kanye West and reality tv actress Kim Kardashian arrive at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit celebrating the opening of "PUNK: Chaos to Couture" in New York
    Lucas Jackson—Reuters

    b. June 15, 2013. Daughter of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian

    Tabloid speculation—about the Kim’s weight, Kanye’s commitment, and, of course, the baby’s sex—ran rampant for months. And when Kim went into early labor (5 weeks before her due date), some fans went so far as to claim her baby was the messiah.

  • Blue Ivy Carter

    People Beyonce Jay-Z
    Courtesy of the Carter Family—AP Photo

    b. January 7, 2012. Daughter of Beyoncé and Jay-Z

    Her existence was announced at the end of Beyoncé’s 2011 Video Music Awards performance of “Love on Top” (side note: the best part of this video is Kanye trying to get in on the announcement), and when she was born, her parents reportedly rented out the hospital’s entire fourth floor—for $1.3 million.
  • Shiloh Jolie-Pitt

    PEOPLE PITT JOLIE
    People Magazine—AP Photo/Getty Images
    b. May 27, 2006. Daughter of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
    Though the much-lauded “world’s most beautiful couple” had previously adopted, Shiloh was their first biological child. In an attempt to avoid the media circus, the family traveled to Namibia for the birth. Her first public photo was on the cover of People, which reportedly bought the images for $4.1 million. (Profits were donated to charities serving African children.)
  • Suri Cruise

    Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes pre wedding dinner at Nino's restaurant in Rome
    Alessandra Benedetti

    b. April 18, 2006. Daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes

    She was amid a flood of rumors that the TomKat marriage was a publicity stunt—the couple began dating in April in 2005 and were married by November—and her first public photo graced the cover of the second-best-selling issue of Vanity Fair ever.
  • Prince William

    Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales
    Tim Graham—Getty Images

    b. June 21, 1982. Son of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales

    His mother, then 20 years old, was already a global obsession, and William’s birth marked the continued reign of the Windsor monarchy.

  • Louise Brown

    PREMIER BEBE-EPROUVETTE EN 1978
    Gamma-Keystone—Getty Images

    b. July 25, 1978. Daughter of Lesley and John Brown

    She was the first baby born via in vitro fertilization—after doctors spent 12 years honing their methods—and was heralded as a medial miracle. Robert Edwards, one of the IVF pioneers, received the 2010 Nobel Prize in medicine for his work. Louise’s birth also spotlighted the controversy surrounding “test tube babies.”

  • John F. Kennedy, Jr.

    KENNEDY
    AP Photo

    b. November 25, 1960. Son of President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy

    He was born at the Georgetown University Hospital sixteen days after his father was elected president—the first-ever child born under those circumstances. Frank Sinatra and Queen Elizabeth were among those who sent gifts to the Kennedys when “John-John” was born.
  • Princess Caroline

    GRACE DE MONACO CONSOLANT SA FILLE CAROLINE BEBE 1957
    Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images

    b. January 23, 1957. Daughter of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco

    Her mom touted around a now-famous Hermes bag to hide her pregnancy from the paparazzi, who followed her every move.

  • Desi Arnaz Jr.

    The Arnaz Family
    KM Archive/Getty Images

    b. January 19, 1953. Son of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz

    His mom’s pregnancy was written into the plot of I Love Lucy, which was a daring move for a TV show at the time. The same day that she gave birth to Desi Jr., her fictional counterpart, Lucy Ricardo, gave birth to Little Ricky on the show (though the baby was not played by Desi Jr. ). His photo eventually graced the first ever TV Guide in April 1953, accompanied by the title “Lucy’s $50,000,000 baby.”

  • Charles Lindbergh Jr.

    LE FILS DE CHARLES LINDBERGH AGE DE DEUX SEMAINES EN 1930
    Keystone-France/Getty Images

    b. June 22, 1930. Son of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow

    Perhaps the first celebrity baby, the press had dubbed him “Little Eaglet” before he was born, and reporters waited en masse at the gate of the Morrow estate during and after his birth. Meanwhile, a song based on his arrival played on broadcasting stations. Sadly, the baby became infamous 20 months later, when he was kidnapped and killed.

  • Esther Cleveland

    Harris Ewing—Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

    b. September 9, 1893. Daughter of President Grover Cleveland and First Lady Frances Folsom Cleveland

    She was born during her dad’s second term, becoming the first and only child of a president to be born in the White House.
  • Alfonso XIII

    Alfonso XIII
    Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

    b. May 17, 1886. Son of Alfonso XII and Maria Christina of Austria

    He became king of Spain the day he was born (his father had died the previous year), prompting French newspaper Le Figaro to dub him “the happiest and best-loved of all the rulers of the earth.” Alas, Alfonso did not prove to be a particularly successful king. During his rule, Spain lost the last of its colonies, and Alfonso lost the monarchy to military dictator Francisco Franco.

  • Henry VI

    Henry VI
    Hulton Archive/Getty Images

    b. December 6, 1421. Son of King Henry V and Catherine of Valois

    He became England’s youngest king at eight months old after his father’s death. Upon his grandfather’s death two months later, he was crowned the King of France, as well. Eventually, Henry went insane and was locked away in the tower of London.
  • Shapur II the Great

    Silver plate, partially gilded, representing king, probably Shapur II hunting deer
    De Agostini/Getty Images

    b. 309. Son of King Hormizd II, the eighth king of the Sassanid Empire

    When his father died, according to legend, Persian nobles dispatched of his three living sons—killing the eldest, blinding the second, and imprisoning the third. The throne was then reserved for the unborn child of one of Hormizd’s wives, making Shapur II the first and possibly only king in history ever to be crowned in utero: the crown was literally placed upon the mother’s belly.
    This article was originally published on June 21, 2013.
TIME Opinion

Why We Needed to Take Joan Rivers Less Seriously

Joan Rivers Dead Obit
Joan Rivers is honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on July 26, 1989, at Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood Ron Galella—WireImage/Getty Images

The same media who loved railing against her "offensive" and "mean" jokes are now hailing her as a "pioneer"

Now that Joan Rivers has passed away, you probably won’t be reading much from all the people who called her a bitch. Of course, nobody wants to speak ill of the dead, and they shouldn’t. But even though CNN called Joan Rivers “mean” in July, today they’re calling her “pioneering.” HollywoodLife called her “cruel” and “hateful” in June, but today she’s “beloved.” Jezebel staffers, who have long railed against Rivers’ “offensive” jokes, are now hailing her as “a comic legend.”

Joan Rivers would call those people “full of s–t.”

It’s not that Joan Rivers wasn’t a pioneering, beloved comic legend — she was. It’s that she didn’t get enough credit for that when she was alive. Instead, there was always someone ready to interpret her comments as personal attacks rather than jokes, which made her beloved and reviled in equal measure. After the father of a deaf boy was offended by a joke she made about Helen Keller, she explained her thinking to an interviewer:

If you laugh at it, you can deal with it, and if you don’t, you can’t deal with it. And don’t start telling me that I shouldn’t be saying it. That’s the way I do it. I would have been laughing at Auschwitz.

She joked that Adele was fat. She joked that Kim Kardashian’s daughter North West was an “ugly” baby who needed to wax. She even joked about her own husband’s suicide. When New York Magazine asked her if there was ever a wrong time to make a joke, she said:

Never. If a joke comes to you, then that’s the time for humor. When my husband committed suicide, there was nothing funny running through my head. But by the next day, I was already starting with close friends to do terrible black humor. Two nights after 9/11, I was doing I-hate-terrorists-because-they’re-so-blank jokes. That’s how I get through life. God has given us this gift of humor. Animals don’t laugh.

In other words, she didn’t have boundaries, but boundaries are exactly what we pay comedians to break. Rivers helped pioneer the kind of nasty humor that spawned a whole generation of comics, from Chris Rock to Sarah Silverman to Ricky Gervais. So why couldn’t we stop telling her to shut up?

Because where male comedians were “funny,” Rivers was “offensive.” She was the Queen of Mean. When she joked that Heidi Klum’s Oscar dress was so stunning that “the last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into the ovens,” she was slammed as “vulgar.” A joke about Miley Cyrus’ virginity in her most recent book drew criticism because people thought she was actually accusing her of incest. She was always being asked to apologize for one thing or another, and she almost never did.

Rivers once wrote in the Hollywood Reporter that she felt like people were always looking for evidence that she was a nasty person. “When I say, ‘No, this is wrong,’ people say: ‘See? She is a bitch. She is a c—.’ If I were a man, they’d say: ‘So brilliant. He’s tough, but he’s right.’ Nobody ever says to me, ‘You’re right.’”

But she even had a sense of humor about her own bad rap. After her Comedy Central Roast in 2009, she said, “They called me evil, mean and [a] plastic surgery whore and disgusting. I kept saying to myself, ‘How do they know so much about me?’”

Where most women struggle to be taken more seriously, we needed to take Joan Rivers less seriously. In a comedic career that spanned over 50 years, there was always someone who didn’t get the joke. But she wasn’t a “bitch” — she was a comedian.

TIME

One Thing Kim Kardashian Is Really Doing Right with Baby North’s Clothing

Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West seen arriving at their hotel with their daughter North West on September 2, 2014 in London. Eagle Lee—Barcroft Media /Landov

Whatever her reason, Kardashian's no-pink-on-my-daughter stance is good because it shows that everything doesn’t have to be “for boys” or “for girls.”

One of my goals for this summer was to organize the hundreds of family photos we’ve snapped since our oldest son was born 11 years ago. Our youngest son, C.J., is seven and has loved to help me sort through the photos – but he slows my progress to a crawl with endless questions about his baby pictures.

“Why did you make me wear a football jersey?”

“Who put me in a sweater with a train on it?”

“Why did you always dress me like a boy?”

“Because we thought you would be a boy who liked boy clothes and boy toys,” I reply matter-of-factly.

I’m not Kim Kardashian. I didn’t dress my babies and toddlers in gender-neutral clothing. Check out North West’s hipster mini wardrobe. Notice the black tank tops, the black and white stripped pants and the complete lack of anything pink. I wish I were more like Kim when it comes to dressing my kids (and when it comes to having loads of money and a professional beauty team too, if we’re really taking inventory), because C.J. is gender nonconforming. That means he’s a boy who prefers to wear clothes and play with toys that are marketed to girls. If he can’t wear those kinds of clothes and play with those types of toys, he’d prefer them to be as gender neutral as possible. I, like so many other parents, initially reinforced limiting (at best) and harmful (at worst) gender stereotypes while clothing, entertaining and educating my child.

Whatever her reason, Kardashian’s no-pink-on-my-daughter stance is good because it shows that everything doesn’t have to be “for boys” or “for girls.” Clothes don’t have to signify gender. You don’t have to announce the sex and/or gender of your child via the outfit. If people can’t tell, but want to know, they can ask. (Or, in North’s case, they can look at the .5-carat diamond earrings in her tiny lobes and crossbody handbag and make a guess.)

Gender-neutral clothing for kids is one step in the right direction of freeing them from restrictive gender boxes. If Kim Kardashian is thinking outside the box, Angelina Jolie ripped the box apart and set it ablaze when she let Shiloh serve as ring bearer in a tux and top hat at her recent wedding to Brad Pitt.

Looking at his baby pictures all summer, C.J. hasn’t liked what he’s seen. And, truthfully, neither have I, because seeing my now-very-effeminate-dress-loving son in photos wearing a blue fire engine t-shirt with baggy, beige cargo pants and light up dinosaur sneakers makes me feel like I don’t know the kid in the photo and, even worse, like I didn’t know my own child.

Unlike Kardashian, at first I taught my child that pink was for girls and blue was for boys. Then, suddenly, he was old enough to teach me that a person’s gender identity doesn’t make itself known until they are two or three years old. From then on, they want to express that gender and their independence by picking out their own clothes and toys. They want to start making their own decisions. We call this blossoming “The Terrible Twos.”

Maybe baby North West wears gender neutral clothes because her mom is publicly shunning outdated and antiquated gender stereotypes; or maybe it’s simply because it’s on trend and little Nori is clearly more hip, fashion-forward and stylish than most people on the planet. Many people are surprised by North’s simple, understated, gender-neutral style. We all expected to see flamboyance, opulence, avant-garde. We expected New York Fashion Week on a one-year-old.

Raising My Rainbow jacket
Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son

If every generation of parents creates a new definition of masculinity and femininity for their children’s generation, then cheers to Kim Kardashian and all the parents out there who don’t define their daughters with the color pink and their boys with the color blue. We are a generation of parents who have no interest in our daughter’s being hyper-feminine and our son’s being hyper-masculine. We’re comfortable with androgyny. We’re sick of the double standard of femininity in males being viewed as weakness, while masculinity in females is viewed as strength. We realize that colors, toys and clothes are for everyone regardless of who they are marketed to. We don’t necessarily think gender expression is a definite predictor of future sexual orientation, but, if it is, we are okay with whatever the outcome – because love is love.

What are the repercussions of gender-neutral fashion choices and behaviors in children? Kids learn that they are free to be who they were created to be. We don’t confine them to the blue aisles or the pink aisles; we give them access to the whole world to explore unrestricted.

I hope Kim and Angelina know that C.J. and I are available for gender-neutral playdates just as soon as I’m done with this family photo project that I started in June and am nowhere near finishing!

Lori Duron is the author of an award-winning blog (RaisingMyRainbow.com) and memoir (Raising My Rainbow) which were the first of their kind to chronicle the adventures in raising a gender creative child. With more than two million readers in nearly 180 countries, Duron’s work has earned the attention of such media outlets as The Atlantic, BBC, CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Newsweek, PEOPLE, TIME and others.

TIME Style

North West Makes Her Solo Modeling Debut Dripping With Chanel

Baby North West makes her modeling debut in he latest issue of CR Fashion Book.
Baby North West makes her modeling debut in he latest issue of CR Fashion Book. Michael Avedon—CR Fashion Book

Kimye's one-year-old daughter appears in the pages of "CR Fashion Book"

In the words of Karl Lagerfeld, “It is never too early to care about fashion.” The same seems to be true when it comes to modeling, as least in the case of little North West. The 13-month-old daughter of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian has made her modeling debut in this fall’s issue of CR Fashion Book.

The photo, taken by photographer Michael Avedon for an editorial spread called “Legends,” is captioned with Lagerfield’s words and dubs the littlest West the “Future” of fashion. Carine Roitfeld, the former French Vogue editor and the found of CR Fashion Book, styled little North for the shoot, pairing her with a Chanel brooch and bag, and some Lorraine Schwartz diamond earrings.

Did we mention that this is a baby we’re talking about here? But while it might all sound just a wee bit ridiculous, it’s important to remember that North isn’t just any baby: She’s already appeared in the pages of Vogue, along with her parents, and is due to appear in the upcoming wedding episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Then there’s the countless paparazzi photos she’s already appeared in throughout her young life, not to mention her mother’s Instagram feed. With that in mind, a black-and-white photo shoot wearing high-fashion labels doesn’t really seem all that out of line.

TIME Internet

The Surprising Reasons Men Love the Kim Kardashian Game

Everyone wants to be Kim K.

You already know that everyone and her sister and her aunt and her mother is playing Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, the mobile game which has reportedly brought in hundreds of millions in revenue and was released in a desktop version this week. What you may not know is that her brother and uncle and dad are playing, too.

Though Kim K. is built around the pursuit of traditionally feminine activities – clothes, dating, modeling – men can be just as taken with it as women. I got my first inkling of this when I told two different male friends that I was trying to pinpoint what was so fascinating about the game, and gave them a little précis of how it worked. Their reactions were more or less identical: “Huh. Weird. Sounds a little boring. I’m downloading it right now.”

This got me curious: what about this modeling-and-celebrity game appealed so urgently to men? I emailed and chatted with eight guys – most straight, some gay, most in their 20s and 30s (ranging from E-list to A-list in the game’s rankings) about why they played Kim K.

The game doesn’t market itself specifically to women – you can play as either sex, dating either sex. Mark, a 29-year-old poet and teacher, says he played a woman in the game (named Mark) specifically because he’s a man: “I have always been interested in bucking expectations with gender roles — I’m a chubby white guy with a beard, but I’ve also done drag, sung Madonna at karaoke nights, etc.”

's character, , rocks a swimsuit ensemble made popular by Kim Kardashian herself.
Mark Cugini’s character, Mark Cugini, rocks a swimsuit ensemble made popular by Kim Kardashian herself. Courtesy of Mark Cugini

Andrew, one of the friends I introduced to the game, made the same choice for the opposite reason: the male gaze. “I expected to spend a lot of time looking at my avatar on screen,” he said, “and I like looking at women more than at men.”

Greg Seals, a 22-year-old writer, played as a guy and started out designing his character to dress like him, but “somehow it devolved into this douchey-looking L.A. guy who is probably closeted, works out at Equinox way too much, and would be mean to me in real life. In essence, I’ve created a monster.”

But though the casting is gender-blind, the plot, such as it is, is arranged around posing for pictures, changing your clothes, and going on dates (though often just to be seen with someone who has more social capital than you). These are, of course, issues of interest to the population at large; yes, for the most part we aren’t models, but most of us engage in romance and almost all of us wear clothes. But these subjects, the clothing especially, are often pigeonholed as being primarily women’s concerns. This alone should guarantee that Kim K. is seen as a “girl” pastime – the game is very, very into clothes, alerting you when you attain each level that you have new outfits available. One of the big enticements to spend real-people money is “K-stars,” silver coins that can be exchanged for new clothes, shoes, or hair. The new duds can be very, very tempting.

That’s true for the men as well. Far from writing Kim K. off as some kind of ladies’ dress-up game, most of the guys I talked to mentioned the costuming as a draw. In their regular lives, men (especially straight men, like the majority of my correspondents) are rarely rewarded for fashion skills, and they’re socialized early on to devalue most sartorial concerns as “girly.” Some of them, at least, are grateful for a context like Kim K. that brings dress-up back to the fore.

Don’t believe me? You should meet writer and recruiter Kevin Fanning’s character Kloaca (“It was the first word with the ‘K’ sound that came to my mind. I realized later that a cloaca isn’t what I thought it was, and that the name was actually kind of gross, but it was too late to do anything about it”). Kevin changes her outfits at least once a day, “usually pants and tees for the day and dresses for the evening. I’m aware that this is insane.” Clothes aren’t a big concern of Kevin’s in real life, but they’re his primary goal in the game; he puts Kloaca through her modeling paces just so he can “make that paper” to buy better outfits.

Kevin Fanning says he had to save up "forever" to afford his character Kloaca's turquoise pixie haircut.
Kevin Fanning says he had to save up “forever” to afford his character Kloaca’s turquoise pixie haircut. Courtesy of Kevin Fanning

But you don’t have to be that attentive to your fashionable Tamagotchi to appreciate Kim K.’s offerings. When I asked Mark what he thought of the available outfits, he sighed, “Ugh. The best. I need the friggin’ space pants ASAP.” (Mark’s character is an A-lister who has climbed all the way to #1 in the fame rankings, so he sees more clothing choices than punters like me; I don’t even know what “space pants” are.)

Matt, 39, who’s playing as a man, is disappointed that his outfit choices aren’t more diverse: “I think it suffers the same thing that male fashion does generally, in that there is only so far you can go with some sort of trousers and shirt.” Greg had similar issues: “I was hoping that if I played as a guy I could wear some of the crazy outfits, masks, and Givenchy Kanye wears.”

Most of the fellas agree that this game kind of sucks as a game, although game developer Matt called the gameplay “decent enough.” And yet, even when you’re bored, it’s somehow hard to walk away. As Greg put it, “All you’re doing is sitting there and mindlessly tapping the screen. There’s not even any strategy, really. But there’s something so addicting about every time I get one of the ‘feed updates’ and watch my fan count go up and my ranking rise. I don’t want to know what that means about me as a human.”

“The game is pretty much the shallowest thing I’ve ever encountered and yet I can’t really help myself,” agreed Alex, 25, who says he got hooked after his girlfriend downloaded the game onto his phone while he slept.

In other words, men play Kim K. because they like the dress-up, because there’s something appealing about the fantasy of a meteoric rise to fame, and because it’s addictive in spite of the dull gameplay. These are the same reasons I play it. Men are not immune to the appeal of beautiful objects, charmed lives, and pretending to be a rich, beloved semi-princess. They’re just not usually encouraged to value those things. Kim K. provides a space for dudes to engage in pursuits typically sidelined as feminine, whether those pursuits are valuable or vacant.

And that’s part of the point. Fantasy games like Kim K. allow you to try on the trappings of another person – someone whose looks, goals, achievements, even gender may be very different from yours – in a simple and protected way. “It’s a safe sandbox for vanity role play,” said Justin, the other friend I introduced to the game. (It’s amazing, really, that both of them are still talking to me.) In this, he says, it’s not that different from other computer games where you play a customizable character: “Up to your teenage years, you get to play a lot with identity as expressed in your clothing, but later in life you lose that freedom. Video games give you a safe space to tinker with that – you can be a man, you can be a woman, you can be a space alien or an orc, and you can wear the clothes that express that persona.” What appeals to men about Kim K. is, ultimately, the same thing that appeals to women: the ability to play, superficially, symbolically, with identity and self-presentation. Men and women who build a character in a game like Kim K. aren’t looking for real insight, but it’s no coincidence that dress-up is the biggest draw.

Kim Kardashian: Hollywood isn’t intended to let men know what women’s lives are like. It’s not intended to let us mundane people know what celebrities’ lives are like, either. But for a little while, it does let you try on their clothes.

 

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