When I look at online news headlines and see that someone from the Kardashian-Jenner clan is called out for a thoughtless or salacious act, I generally read about it and then agree that it was fully justified. However, Kylie Jenner’s latest photo-shoot that featured her fetishized in a wheelchair garnered a different reaction for me. There are several layers as to why the photo-shoot is problematic, the most prominent issue being that it portrays people with a disability as “trendy.” However, I am most troubled by the lack of accountability for the people who have more power than Jenner. Jenner was undoubtedly in the wrong for agreeing to do the photo-shoot, but there needs to be attention given to the photographer and her manager for creating and allowing such a concept.
Jenner is 18 years old and therefore, should have been able to make a better judgment call and realize how insensitive the photo-shoot would be to people whose disability is being sexualized and, historically, has been stigmatized. Many people who are disabled took to Twitter to have their voices heard and complaints heard. According to CNN, user @amysgotmilk said, “Oh I see! When I’m in my wheelchair no one can look me in the eye but when Kylie Jenner sits in a wheelchair it’s FASHION. Silly me.” She, as well as those in a similar position, is entitled to feel angry about Jenner’s thoughtless portrayal. However, only reprimanding Jenner is not seeing the full scale of the situation. Jenner’s manager should have realized how poorly this photo-shoot would represent her image. Additionally, the photographer would certainly have had input into how Jenner would be presented. Jenner is largely at fault, but she is not the only guilty party in this disastrous photo-shoot.