Kim Kardashian ditches celebrity culture to become a role model for civilized divorce

While waiting to board a commercial flight this week, Kanye West fired up his Instagram to appeal to a higher power in all-caps: “GOD PLEASE BRING OUR FAMILY BACK TOGETHER.”

I have often ridiculed Kanye, or Ye, to use his new legal name. But those seven words made me wince with pity. Ye was responding and sharing photos from a cover story in Vogue about his ex-wife published on Wednesday: “‘I’ve Chosen Myself:’ Inside Kim Kardashian’s New World.”

The takeaway: Her old world, the one Ye is demanding God recreate, is no more.

I was struck by one quote from Kardashian, now 41: “For so long, I did what made other people happy. And I think in the last two years I decided, I’m going to make myself happy. And that feels really good. And even if that created changes and caused my divorce, I think it’s important to be honest with yourself about what really makes you happy.

“I’ve chosen myself. I think it’s okay to choose you. My 40s are about being Team Me. I’m going to eat well. I’m going to work out. I’m going to have more fun, spend more time with my kids and the people who make me happy. I’m going to put my phone down …”

I’m dubious about that last promise. Kim Kardashian uses her phone more than Tesla uses lithium-iron-phosphate in its batteries. Her phone might as well be surgically attached to her palm. But by using the term “Team Me,” she eclipsed the material culture and endless tabloid obsessions that catapulted her to one of the most famous people alive.

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Kim Kardashian is now also a role model for civilized divorce.

I’m professionally obliged to track celebrity breakups, which is the part of my job I hate most. All breakups, not just celebrities, are corrosive to the soul, for both participants and onlookers. When close couple friends have split over the years, my heart felt like it was squeezed in a vise.

Going from “happily ever after” to “I hope they rot in hell” is beyond depressing.

But what I really admire about Ms Kardashian in this Vogue profile is that she’s so sweetly wise and introspective about what will be, and what is no more. We think of her as a cartoonish ditz posing for selfies in designer bikinis. We think of the entire Kardashian clan as a reality TV abomination that has lurched us closer to the apocalypse. There is some truth to that. But in this story, Kim also gives a master-class in how to break up while sidestepping warfare.

For the last few weeks, Ye has been publicly lashing out at her, especially around co-parenting. The fact he keeps posting and then deleting wild allegations — including, with no evidence, that Kim claimed he had taken out a “hit” on her — suggests he’s not exactly playing Texas Hold’em with a full deck. At this point in the narrative arc, Kim would be well within her rights to return fire with no mercy. But for the sake of the couple’s four young children, she has planted her stilettos on the high road and turned the other high-def cheek.

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“You could be so hurt or angry at your ex, but I think in front of the kids, it always has to be ‘Your dad’s the best,’” she told Vogue. “Make sure you are your co-parent’s biggest cheerleader, no matter what you’re personally going through.”

I have greatly underestimated Kim Kardashian these many years. And I apologize without reservation for the rotten things I have said. Here’s a woman who lives in the public eye, a terrifying place to live. Here’s a woman who could keep raking in millions from social media and her fashion emporium. But here’s a woman who is also busting her derriere to become a lawyer so she can fight social injustice. Here’s a woman who is trying to balance the heartbreak of divorce with a new relationship, one with Pete Davidson that is catnip to the entertainment press.

Unlike Ye’s current gallivanting, be it with Julia Fox or a Kim doppelgänger this week, Kardashian has exerted remarkable restraint and avoided not making a public spectacle of her evolving personal life. Yes, you could argue her personal life is a byproduct of public spectacle. But there is a subtext in that Vogue profile that suggests she is much smarter than most people assumed, that she really is playing 3D chess in the plastic checkers of celebrity culture.

Kim Kardashian is a human ink blot: we see what we think we see.

And what I think I now see is a remarkably strong and loving mother who is trying to do right by the people and causes she supports. I now see a tabloid construction that is so much more than the sum of its clickbait parts. I see an empathetic woman grappling with the big picture and middle age, while not getting lost in her own close-up. I see a pop-culture powerhouse who has decided to use her power for good. I see the real adult bob to the surface in a tanked relationship. I see a woman, unbridled and empowered, finally focused on her own happiness.

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No, Ye, not even God can bring Kim Kardashian back to you. That’s a wrap, I’m afraid.

She has moved on. And her journey is inspiring to watch.


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