But, despite achieving billionaire status and being hailed as one of the most influential business moguls of her generation, Kim has stayed true to herself — and her love of all things glam and selfies.
Whether she’s studying for the bar or taking a trip to Harvard, Kim embraces these iconic aspects of her identity. And in this week’s episode of The Kardashians, she opened up about why this has become so vital to her career.
Back in January, Kim achieved one of her bucket list goals by being invited to Harvard Business School to talk to students all about Skims, and how her $4 billion company came to be.
“I’m really nervous,” she said in her confessional, noting that she was following in the footsteps of some of “the top business minds” in the world.
The camera crews followed Kim on her visit as she met professors and executives at the school. Sadly, her talk wasn’t allowed to be filmed, although she gave a little insight into what she talked about.
“It was such a fascinating class,” she explained after, “‘cause it was about a lot of the thought process that goes behind our campaigns, our drops, our launches, what materials we use… Just so much that maybe the class wouldn’t really assume I would be involved in.”
Once the class finished, a number of students were invited to a small Q&A with Kim where they had the opportunity to ask questions about her entrepreneurial endeavors.
People asked Kim about her drive and determination, while one student praised her for the fact that she hasn’t scaled back her glamorous identity as she’s become more focused on business.
“I hope that you also know — as a woman who is in business, who’s worked in finance as probably the only woman in the room most of the time — you have been honestly the reason that I can also love glam, but be serious about being a businesswoman as well,” she said.
She continued to ask Kim about how she thinks about taking “ownership” of things that were previously deemed to be “shameful” — i.e. shapewear — and turning it into something that is not only celebrated and sought-after, but highly lucrative.
In response, Kim said there was a “defining moment” at the White House in 2018 when she realized that she was able to embrace the things she loves, like selfies and glam, while still being taken seriously as a businessperson.
For context, Kim has visited the Oval Office on numerous occasions in her criminal justice reform work. The first time was in May 2018, when she met with President Donald Trump and other government officials to advocate for clemency for Alice Marie Johnson — who was later freed from a life sentence, in part thanks to Kim.
In the past, Kim has confessed that she “hated” how insecure she felt the first time she went to the White House, admitting that she “didn't know half of anything” that was talked about.
And years later, during her Harvard Q&A, Kim admitted that she also felt worried that the officials she met wouldn’t take her seriously due to the fact that she posted a bikini photo to her Instagram right before her visit.
“I was like, ‘Oh shit, are they gonna look at my Instagram and think I’m so inappropriate?’” she told the class of students as she reflected on the memory. “But then I was like, ‘When is being me gonna be OK?’ ‘Cause that is what I wanted to do.”
Still feeling anxious, she recalled asking someone if her Instagram page would be an issue, to which they assured her that “no one cares.”
Despite this, Kim remembered feeling “shameful” over her racy Instagram photos. Although she later realized that being authentically herself on social media is actually beneficial to her cause.
“I actually think people pay attention, maybe more to some of the law stuff and the criminal justice reform stuff that I do, because my feed isn’t flooded with just cases and stories about justice reform,” she explained to the students.
She continued: “If I could bring in that customer that might just be on there to look at my makeup or my bikini pic, and then they happen to fall into this story, and then they happen to change their heart about something that they maybe never thought that they would stumble across on my page, like, that to me, means more than anything.”
Ultimately, she concluded that being who she is is at the core of her success, which is ironic, being that there were people who previously encouraged her to tone down her “sexy” persona — namely, her ex-husband, Kanye West.
While Kanye was previously credited with boosting Kim’s confidence and encouraging her to embrace her sexuality, his approach towards her image changed drastically towards the end of their marriage when he became more religious.
During this time, he openly encouraged Kim to embrace a more conservative look, memorably telling her during a 2019 episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians that pushing her to “show off her body” was now damaging to his “spirit” and “soul.”
“The corset, underwear, all of that vibe, I just feel like I went through this transition from being a rapper, looking at all these girls, and then looking at my wife like, ‘Oh, my girl needs to be just like these other girls, showing her body off, showing this, showing that,’” he told Kim the night before the 2019 Met Gala, where she was due to wear a waist-cinching Mugler corset gown.
As Kim fretted over her outfit — which she ultimately did wear — Kanye told her: “I didn't realize that that was affecting my soul and my spirit as someone that's married and loved, the father of what's about to be four kids.”
Kim hit back, reminding Kanye that it was him who initially encouraged her to embrace her sexiness. However, he simply stormed out of the room and told her: “You are my wife, and it affects me when pictures are too sexy.”
As well as her style, Kanye also attempted to exert a certain amount of control over Kim’s Instagram posting during their marriage.
In fact, Kim previously revealed in 2018 that she and Kanye once had a huge fight after she posted a picture of herself at the beach instead of a batch of other photos that he thought would look better.
“He wanted them to be all matched up and be all from the motel,” Kim told Kourtney at the time. “That's what the fucking fight was.”
Keep doing you, Kim! You can stream The Kardashians on Hulu in the US and Disney+ internationally. The next episode will be available on Oct. 12.