The story behind Kim Karsahsian West’s Met Gala dress last spring turns out to be even more grueling than it looked. The dress itself was insane, all glimmer and glam, sparkling and skin tight as though she’d just stepped out of the sea, an ocean creature illuminated with bioluminescent crystals. It was a super-sexy wet look.
While Kardashian is known for donning titillating outfits, we now know her husband, Kanye West, took issue with it, thanks to a new episode of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”
West didn’t used to care, back when he encouraged her to pose nude. Now he does. Kardashian, and her fans, lashed out against his comments—but is it wrong for a man to want to guard his wife from lurid stares?
Kardashian’s Thierry Mugler dress was impractical; she couldn’t sit and she definitely couldn’t attend to nature’s business. She’d worked on the look for 11 months, and had to practice breathing while wearing a corset cinched too tight to allow for proper lung inflation. She wore it despite the pain, and looked like a sculpture. Mugler came back to the label to design specially for Kardashian, and her look was inspired by Sophia Loren’s style in her 1957 film “Boy on a Dolphin.”
Mood 💦💦💦 pic.twitter.com/444eMATAno
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) May 6, 2019
It was an art project in form and fashion. But the look caused waves in her marriage. Kanye didn’t know who all this unabashed appeal was meant to please. He didn’t like the idea of other people desiring his wife.
As “Keeping up with the Kardashians” documented, the night before the event, Kanye told Kim, “I didn’t realize that that was affecting my soul and my spirit as someone that’s married and loved, the father of what’s about to be four kids… A corset is a form of underwear. It’s hot. It’s like, it’s hot for who though?”
His comments drew fire from fans. After all, hasn’t he been pushing Kardashian to brand herself as confident, beautiful, and, yes, sexy? Kanye’s change of heart—going from a guy who objectified all women, including his wife, to a conservative father and husband—is his own journey, no one else’s.
That he wants to live a different life, one that does not value women simply for their sexual appeal, or perhaps one in which only those who are intimate with a given woman are meant to value her sex appeal, is his own choice. It’s not wrong for West to try to evangelize that perspective within his own family.
Supporters of Kim K. rightly pointed out that she can make her own choices, that Kanye doesn’t get veto power, or any kind of say in how she dresses or presents herself. In fact, pop culture connoisseurs all watched as Kanye boosted Kim to transform her image, to pose nude, to use her body and beauty to attain fame, to secure pop power.
And she did. That Kim Kardashian is a pin-up, beauty queen entrepreneurial success, who shows time and time again that she has both empathy and a brain, is not in doubt. Their mutual desire of her own beauty is part of their love story. She has played muse for both of them.
But Kayne’s in a bit of a bind, as his song “Violent Crimes” points out. “Father forgive me, I’m scared of the karma/‘cause now I see women as somethin’ to nurture/not somethin’ to conquer… No daddy don’t play, not when it come to they daughters…”
What’s happened to Kanye happens to so many American men when they step out of the role of bachelor and into the role of husband and father. He knows how badly he thought of women, how he considered them to be objects to acquire, to show off his power and prowess. Now, with kids and a wife of his own, he knows how messed up that is, how women are not to be possessed but to be treated as equal partners on life’s journey.
Despite Kim’s right to do as she pleases, Kanye has the right to share his perspective on modesty with his wife. It’s okay for a man to change his mind and decide women shouldn’t be sexually objectified. It’s even okay for him to decide he wants better for the women in his own life.
Perhaps he could have expressed it better, and said, “I love you so much, you are so beautiful and essential to me and our family, and when I see how people look at you, and reduce your worth to your desire as a sex object, it’s painful to me. I want our kids to aspire to be more like your brains than your body, even though you are so beautiful to me.” I don’t know, maybe something like that?
The real issue isn’t whether he gets to control what she wears, or how she presents herself, but that there’s nothing wrong with a conversation like this between husband and wife. Theirs is a power couplehood, where fame, fortune, and future are all predicated on a measure of desirability.
Even so, Kanye gets to change his mind about what women are; more men should. If I were married to a guy who wanted to go to a $60,000 gala wearing butt pants and a nipple shirt, I would let him know how I felt about it.