The Surveillance of Blackness in the Kardashians' Wellness Empire


Keeping up with the Kardashians depicts the lives of the Kardashian clan through reality television. The unparalleled success of five sisters managed by their mother has only continued to increase over time along with their participatory self-surveillance through their formidable use of social media. In recent years, a focus on health and wellbeing has led the sisters to endorse products for weight loss and health, using their bodies as spaces of commodification and advertisement online. The family’s interaction with the camera, and the aesthetics of their social media cross-promotions combine to present an open “honest” front promoting the replication of their success and beauty for their audiences. The sisters engage with blackness in a way that bolsters their claims of capacitating and beautifying white feminine subjects, engagements now commonly termed “blackfishing.” This article analyzes how the Kardashians have created an intense regime of self-surveillance, even dabbling self-consciously in the carceral state's techniques for surveilling blackness, to construct themselves as both uncommonly, exotically sexual ('baring all') and respectable enough (white or white passing) to sell various remedies with dubious health value.


Reality Television; Social Media; Health and Wellness; The Kardashians; Surveillance

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Published : 2022-06-15

HussainH. (2022). The Surveillance of Blackness in the Kardashians’ Wellness Empire. Review of International American Studies, 15(1), 107-125.

Heena Hussain
University of Manchester  United Kingdom

Heena Hussain is a doctoral student at the University of Manchester. Her thesis is currently titled, “Liberal Imperialism in Post-9/11 Hollywood Fantasy Films.” She completed her Bachelor (Hons) at Manchester Metropolitan University in English Literature and Creative Writing, and her Master’s in English Literature and American Studies at the University of Manchester.

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