Kim Kardashian West recently turned 40, and she celebrated all the ways we expected, even amid a pandemic. She was thrown a giant surprise birthday party by her family and we said nothing. She posted an admittedly stunning bikini snap from an undisclosed beach and we said nothing. But now, she’s sharing photos from the friends-and-family trip to an island she took for her birthday as well, gushing over how remarkable it was to be able to “pretend things were normal just for a brief moment in time.” Presumably, she wanted more of the same reaction, of well wishes and “wow that looks amazing” that pours in every time she gives us a peek at her über-privileged life. But these photos — and these captions — were hardest of all Kim’s flaunted normalcy to stomach. We all want what Kim had the wealth and privilege to buy herself and her family and friends. After the party and the gifts and the photoshoots, how many more millions of dollars are we supposed to be excited about Kim spending on her birthday?
Kim starts out her stream of birthday photos by saying she’s feeling “humbled and blessed” on her 40th birthday — but her next caption shows startlingly little of that reflective attitude toward her own privilege.
We danced, rode bikes, swam near whales, kayaked, watched a movie on the beach and so much more. I realize that for most people, this is something that is so far out of reach right now, so in moments like these, I am humbly reminded of how privileged my life is. #thisis40 pic.twitter.com/UYOcVBpytW
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) October 27, 2020
“Before COVID, I don’t think any of us truly appreciated what a simple luxury it was to be able to travel and be together with family and friends in a safe environment,” Kim wrote, though family trips are a luxury most Americans can’t regularly afford.
“After 2 weeks of multiple health screens and asking everyone to quarantine, I surprised my closest inner circle with a trip to a private island where we could pretend things were normal just for a brief moment in time,” she continued. “We danced, rode bikes, swam near whales, kayaked, watched a movie on the beach and so much more. I realize that for most people, this is something that is so far out of reach right now, so in moments like these, I am humbly reminded of how privileged my life is. #thisis40.”
she said rip to ur grandma but im different https://t.co/gO7cVNMA5c
— nate zed (@NathanZed) October 27, 2020
For some responders to this tweet, it was Kim’s “right now” that got them — it seemed that the reality star understood that not everyone was rich enough to purchase a life undeterred by coronavirus, but not that, even without a pandemic, the things she considers birthday treats will never be financially possible for nearly everyone who follows her.
Just wanna call out the phrase “private island where we could pretend things were normal” https://t.co/9fmgmS4LxS
— Ed Solomon (@ed_solomon) October 27, 2020
cool, people have had to say goodbye to loved ones over the phone while they died alone in a hospital. but neat trip to post all over social media while the world suffers. so humble and so down to earth, truly.
— Jenna WEAR A MASK Quigley (@JBomb11) October 27, 2020
It’s also worth noting that these weeks of “multiple health screens and asking everyone to quarantine” indicate a particular privilege of their own, since none of the parties had work they were financially dependent on that would require them to leave the home, and all could afford to both get multiple health screens and undoubtedly outsource their riskier behaviors like grocery shopping to hired help.
Why yes, now that you mention it, I would support higher taxes on these people in order to allow struggling families to get health care and not have to work three jobs at $7.25 an hour to pay for college https://t.co/ohJkPTMisN
— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) October 27, 2020
Regardless of which word grated the most, fans were united in their confusion on one point: why post at all? After having what looks like an amazing, life-changing, completely out of touch with reality vacation, why share photos with the masses who can’t travel, can’t see their families, and can’t celebrate their milestones by gathering with loved ones?
I'm just glad that all those families who couldn't have weddings or funerals or graduations or babies with family present sacrificed and the rich aren't feeling the economic or social impacts at all. https://t.co/Au0LDe8U5K
— Akilah Hughes (@AkilahObviously) October 27, 2020
After all these years of watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians, maybe we’re inured to the idea that reality — the kind with problems, and scarcity, and life-threatening risk — doesn’t penetrate this family’s California bubble. But that bubble of safety selectively extending itself to Kim’s closest friends and then traveling abroad seems to have crystallized what the pandemic has been making clearer all these months. In America, you only have to suffer if you can’t afford to get out of it.
Before you go, here are the best pictures of Kim Kardashian from the last 20 years.