In case you missed it, MTV rebooted its documentary television series True Life on Wednesday. The program first aired in the late ‘90s and covered a wide range of topics, from drug addiction to homosexuality to body modification. One could argue it brought important yet still taboo topics into the national dialogue, each episode helping us empathize with other human beings. The new iteration, titled True Life/Now, will tell the stories of real people immersed in today’s biggest social phenomena. So, fittingly, the first episode follows three individuals who idolize the Kardashians.
“The Kardashians have become the idea of what beauty is, so I feel pressured to have a big butt or have fake boobs, because this is what society deemed as beauty,” says Sherrah, a 26-year-old bartender from Brooklyn, NY, who has spent over $10,000 on plastic surgery to physically emulate the Kardashian/Jenner sisters. “To be complete, I’d need to spend like, another $100,000,” she adds.
Graysen, a 21-year-old eyebrow stylist from Jacksonville, NC, also idolizes the famous family, to the point that it is harming his relationships. “Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with his changes that he makes,” his husband says. “He wants to upgrade himself every second, every minute of the day.”
Finally, there’s Brittany, a 20-year-old from Orlando, Florida, who’s currently unemployed. She spends her time dressing like Kim K and snapping photos for Instagram. “People actually come up to me and they’re like, ‘You know who you remind me of?’ And I’m like, ‘Who?!’ And they’re like, ‘Don’t get upset, but Kim Kardashian,'” she says.
While the episode will make you wince, it speaks to our social discourse. As a society, we’ve become fascinated by the Kardashian’s power — their empire — something they seemed to have acquired through beauty. And with fascination comes consequence. As reported by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there’s been a 137 percent increase in cosmetic surgeries since 2000, and according to recent reports, plastic surgeons are seeing an increase in the number of requests from patients to have their features reconstructed to mimic those of celebrities. These beauty standards have been linked to lower self-esteem, depression, and body dysmorphic disorder (something Kim K herself claims to have).