She is blunt, and entirely unapologetic, about all of that. Kim repeatedly mentions, and praises, the team of people required to give her her "glam." (In Kardashianspeak, "glam" is most commonly used as a noun.) "Getting my hair and makeup done has become a daily routine," she writes in an early caption in Selfish. "I have become family with my glam teams." Kim is naturally beautiful—she is gorgeous, pretty much empirically—but she is repeatedly unsatisfied with the methodical madness of chromosomes. She wants more. She works for more. The selfies compiled in her book may be harbingers of arrogance, or of insecurity, or of some combination of the two; what they also are, however, is evidence of an insistent materialism, of the conviction that one’s "look" is not a fleeting thing, but rather a thing that can be made into media. (Bedroom selfies: "Right before bed but you know your makeup looks good so you have to take a pic.") This is industrial production, applied to one’s appearance. Kim is inventing, in her way, a new strain of capitalism. Its currency is the selfie.
There is, say what else you will about it, something admirable, and refreshing, in that. Because Kim is, with her preening mirror selfies, calling the culture’s bluff. Beauty, probably since the dawn of time and definitely since Cleopatra began experimenting with the smoky-eye look, has involved a kind of wide-scale deception. On the one hand, the logic goes, women should, if at all possible, be naturally beautiful. On the other hand, no woman, naturally, is as beautiful as she could be. So beauty becomes, like so much else in life, a complex negotiation between good luck and hard work, with the work—and here’s the real rub—meant to give the illusion of the luck. (Maybe she's born with it … maybe it's Maybelline!) Makeup and hair dye and hair relaxers and hair extensions and false lashes and curling irons and nail polish and skin darkeners and skin lighteners and teeth bleaches and chemical peels and microdermabrasion and eye creams and liposuction and fillers and lip plumpers—their tacit promise is that one can buy one's way into the illusion of natural beauty.
Which is also to say that the cosmetics industrial complex has been dedicated to a tension that is, if we're being fully empathetic about it, also a rather cruel paradox.
It is a paradox that Kim Kardashian, bless her contoured cheekbones, does not embrace. Her way of beauty, instead, overtly rejects the illusion of "natural"; her way of beauty is messy and smelly and absurdly labor-intensive. It strives. It requires Kim to sit in a chair for hours on end as her "glam teams" treat her face like a canvas to be painted and spackled and chiaroscuro-ed. It requires brushes, of both paint and air. It requires tools—chemicals, expertly applied—and time and patience. It requires a collection of workers.