Late last night, Kim Kardashian snapped a pic of a sign that read “You can’t have a million dollar dream with a minimum wage work ethic” to her her jillion followers.
What a dick move.
Like, I get it. Hard work is one way to accumulate more material goods. There’s some truth to that, sure, but the issue is a lot more complex than some sign peddling capitalist inspo in a bougie shop can encompass. It is offensive in the extreme both in general, and, in specific, coming from Kim Kardashian.
Kim Kardashian is a successful business woman to be sure, with a range of reality shows, apps, fashion products and books to her name. But she was born with the maximum amount of privilege. Her father was a high-profile millionaire lawyer who infamously defended O.J. Simpson, her step-parent was Olympian Caitlyn Jenner and she was raised in ultra-luxury by stay-at-home mom Kris Jenner. In addition to the basic privileges of being a white, cis-gender, able-bodied person, she has the added benefit of being beautiful, thin (she’s only big in the trendy, socially acceptable places) and rich. She has a work ethic, sure, and has used it to build a formidable brand and business empire, yes, but based on what? Selfies. Reality shows about their gilded existence. Sponsorship deals for tacky products. Yes, the Kardashian clan has had to deal with trauma—including the early death of their father, dealing with the public transition of a parent and Kim’s recent attack during a violent robbery—but on the whole, their lives seem annoyingly #blessed out of the gate, so broadcasting a pick-yourselves-up-by-your-bootstraps ethos is pretty damn rich.
It’s unbelievably clueless—and classist. In this trash economy, many unemployed and underemployed people spends months or years searching and searching and searching for full-time work (with good benefits an impossible dream) and would be goddamned ecstatic to land a minimum wage job. They send out thousands of cover letters and go around town every day, passing out their resumes, and applying for every open job they can find—the ones they’re qualified for, that is. What if they are street-involved? What if they have a mental illness? What if they are a person of colour or disabled or trans and face discrimination from prospective employers? Even those lucky enough to enjoy a baseline of white, cis-gender able-bodied privilege can sink further and further beneath the poverty line as their job search drags on and on.
Then there are those who do have a minimum wage job. Quick q, Kim: what kind of work do minimum wage-earners have to perform? Let me tell you: it’s a hell of a lot harder than posting a selfie of yourself on Instagram. Imagine being on your feet all day, serving coffee to a cranky public who often yell at you, insult you, short-change you. Imagine having to clean toilets in a dirty bar. Imagine having to work three part-time minimum-wage jobs so you can make enough grocery money to feed your kids. Imagine having to support a veteran husband and a disabled kid who requires expensive meds and care on $11.40 an hour. Imagine having to take a live-in nanny position with an unfriendly family to send money to your extended clan back home. Imagine being a doctor or a lawyer in your home country and now you have to mop floors or work the fast food counter. Imagine being trans and so desperate for work that you take a job that pays your rent but you still suffer transphobic abuse in the workplace and have to visit the food bank. Imagine getting up at five in the morning to drive for Uber before you head into your manual labour job that pays you half what your legal coworkers make because it’s under the table. Imagine signing on for full-time work only to find that your employer gives you a number of hours just shy of what would require them to pay you benefits. Imagine staying at a job where you are sexually harassed because you need to make rent this month. Imagine. Imagine. Imagine.
But no: you clearly didn’t stop to think about these people—the majority of people—before you posted your condescending little note. Your ignorant Snapchat isn’t a moment of tough love for your followers, but, rather, reveals that you either have never had to work a shitty job in your life or have zero empathy for those who have and do and would be happy to. They’re wise enough to know that minimum wage jobs require the most work ethic—not the least.