The big reveal from Kim Kardashian’s guest turn for San Francisco’s revered Commonwealth Club of California on Tuesday night? She was wearing maternity Spanx under her black designer dress to conceal cellulite, not her pregnant belly.
The reality TV star and fashion mogul was invited by the 112-year-old club that describes itself as the nation’s oldest and largest public affairs program to talk about her famous family, the business of millennial culture and the objectification of women in media.
Before her visit, the Commonwealth Club’s invitation to Kardashian provoked minor controversy.
Some members and listeners of the club’s radio broadcasts said they felt she was not worthy of sharing the same spotlight as such notable past speakers as President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr. The program’s Facebook page has lit up in recent days with comments opposing and supporting her selection.
Kardashian did discuss the key topics, and others, during an hour-long appearance before an adoring audience that was mostly young and female. But the mild questions she was asked, first by a retired state judge who served as interviewer and then by audience members via Twitter, elicited few deep answers.
“How do you explain your popularity?” Judge LaDoris Cordell asked Kardashian after the topic of the 34-year-old’s outfit was covered.
“I really do love social media. I credit it to a lot of my career,” Kardashian answered. “My career is based on openness, openness and honesty.”
Cordell noted that Kardashian has 94 million social media followers.
“Maybe it’s the bikini selfies,” the photogenic guest continued. “I think I definitely overshare, but I’m really engaged.”
The judge also asked if it is realistic for young girls to be successful in a man’s world.
Kardashian, who has makeup, hair care, perfume and clothing lines to her credit along with a best-selling game app, was thoughtful.
“There is this generation of young people — girls — who are beautiful but don’t have a strong work ethic,” she said. “People sometimes think that with looks things will be easy. But I just encourage people to put in the work.”
Then it was time for the tough questions. Do the media degrade women, Cordell asked, to the status of mere sexual objects? Does the large number of selfies Kardashian posts objectify her?
“Yes. I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” she answered. “I think there’s power in that, and I think I have the control to put out what I want so even if I’m objectifying myself, I feel good about it.”
During her time on stage, Kardashian also said the public had been “more supportive than we ever could have imagined” of Caitlyn Jenner, her transgender stepfather. She said her family is attending group therapy and “everybody has their own transition to accept and support this.”
The most meaningful exchange might have come when Cordell, who was the first African-American female judge appointed to the bench in Northern California, wondered how Kardashian and her husband, rapper Kanye West, planned to protect their biracial children from discrimination. The couple has a 2-year-old daughter and Kardashian is four months pregnant with their second child, a boy.
Kardashian shared making the difficult decision not to engage with a fellow airline passenger who screamed profanity and racial comments at her while she was traveling with her daughter.
West “is very vocal about racial issues,” she said. “Our communication, I think, will be really helpful for our children.”
Kardashian said that her husband came up with the idea and title for her new book of selfies called Selfish that she signed copies of before her talk.