There is perhaps no trend more disparaged as a sign of millennial self-obsession than the selfie, and Kim Kardashian is the undisputed queen of selfie-taking. Yet her new book of annotated self-taken photos, titled Selfish and out this week, feels almost like an ode to the people around her.
Yes, there is healthy ego in Mrs. Kanye West’s glam shots. There are bikini selfies, bathroom selfies, selfies in the club, selfies in the car. But sometimes, other people wander into the shot. The people who are behind the scenes, in her her hotel room or her green room. The people who help make her look like the woman everyone’s scrambling to see.
“I can look at any photo of myself and can tell who did my hair and makeup, where I was and who I was with,” Kardashian writes early on. Throughout the book, she proves it’s true: “I remember Stephen Moleski did my makeup and Clyde Haygood did my hair,” she writes next to that photo.
“Old Hollywood glam vibes,” she writes next to another, “Mary Phillips did my makeup.”
“We were done early one night, so Mario [Dedivanovic] gave me a makeup lesson…I secretly wish I was a makeup artist.”
It’s not as though Kardashian thinks she’s pulling a fast one on all of us—to the contrary, in Selfish, she seems proud to show off the manufacturing of image, both of her own, and of the selfie as a phenomenon.
The point of Selfish, as the title cheekily suggests, is Kim’s marveling at Kim. But in the age of styling, make-up and contouring, to show off her styled, made-up, contoured self is also to pay tribute to the stylists who make her look the way she does. The architecture of the Sistine Chapel may be exemplary, but it’s Michelangelo’s paint job that packs in the crowds.
The book is effectively a portfolio for Kardashian’s legion hair and makeup artists, who can point to its pages’ chronological trajectory as proof that they were part of her transformation from Paris Hilton’s sidekick to one half of the #WorldsMostTalkedAboutCouple, half of whom really did #breaktheinternet. She’s right to give credit where credit is due; and she’s also probably right to end the book on a photo with her husband, who many believe has been her most effective stylist yet.
Next time you see Kim post a perfectly made-up, cleavage-heavy photo, don’t ask why she’s so obsessed with herself—ask who’s making her look so good.