Kim Kardashian spoke to an intimate crowd during an Inforum event at the Castro Theater in San Francisco on Tuesday evening, and I was there, ready to soak up the reality star's thoughts on family, fame, and the objectification of women (if that sounds like a wide array of subject matter, it's because it is). Kim answered every question that LaDoris Cordell — a Stanford Law graduate and the outgoing San Jose independent police auditor — lobbed at her, and she did so thoughtfully, candidly, and with a sense of humor and air of self-deprecation. So, here's what I learned about Kim today that I wasn't exactly expecting to:
- She's always been inspired by Jennifer Lopez: And not just for the obvious reasons. When a young Kim, who loved to buy and sell things on eBay, first saw Jennifer Lopez's "Jenny From the Block" video, she became obsessed with the Manolo Blahnik Timberland boots the singer wore in it. She called the boutique to hunt down a pair, and found out that they had seven in stock — at $750 each. She begged her father, the late Robert Kardashian, to front her the money for the boots — and because he made her "sign a contract for everything" (he was a lawyer, after all), she swore in writing that she would pay him back. Well, Kim used his credit card to purchase all seven pairs, and, knowing they were in such high demand, sold them on eBay for $2,400 a pop. Needless to say, she paid her father back and made a pretty penny in the process. Basically, Kim has always had the spirit of a hustler.
- She believes women can be successful in any field, even if it's considered "a man's world" — but she wants them to work for it. "It's absolutely possible to succeed in business," Kim said. "It's about finding your passion and being determined." She explained that while scrolling through her followers' Instagram feeds (yes, she looks at your social media snaps too!), she sees "a generation of girls that are beautiful but don't seem like they have a strong work ethic." She went on: "I think people assume that if you have good looks, things will come easy. It doesn't work that way. You need to have drive."
- She has insecurities about the way she looks, just like the rest of us. When Kim was growing up, her biggest beauty inspiration was Cindy Crawford — at the time, there weren't many celebrities that she could look up to with her same features or body type, until she got older and women like Jennifer Lopez and Salma Hayek came along. "I developed early and was uncomfortable with my curves," she says, adding that her older sister, Kourtney, (who was a bit of a late bloomer) would "snap her bra straps" and was "so embarrassing." Kim revealed that she would "sit in the bathtub and pray" that she would stop developing, but before going to high school, her father wrote her a heartfelt letter telling her that even though people "may take advantage" of her body shape, she should be proud and confident of who she is and what she was blessed with. "My parents always made me feel really proud of who I was," she says, adding, "But for me to say that I don't wear Spanx every day, or that most days I don't even feel secure enough to walk outside the door, would be a lie."
- She believes that the media objectifies women — but she also believes in taking back the power and objectifying herself: "You can take that power and put out there what you want people to look at, and what you think is beautiful," Kim said. When talking about her photo book, Selfish, Kim explained, "I took all those photos myself. I like them. I'm proud of them. I think there's power in that; I have the control to put out what I want. Even if it's objectifying myself, I'm OK with that. It's really a matter of opinion. If a woman does a photo shoot that she thinks was tasteful and artfully done, the media might still use it for their own benefit and exploit it. But for me, I don't care that they exploited it if I loved it and was happy with the message behind it."
- She really doesn't care what anybody thinks of her — anymore. Kim admitted to "reading every blog post, every comment, and every little thing written" about her in the past, but thanks to husband Kanye West, she's learned not to care as much about what other people say and write. "It was really hard to deal with," she said, adding, "He has taught me not to care and to have confidence. I've gotten so much of my confidence from him. I love how he stands up for what he believes in wholeheartedly — I love the way he lives."
- Her family may have been destined to find fame. When talking about her father, who died of esophageal cancer in 2003, Kim says he would be "so proud of me." She added with a laugh, "He might kill me for some of the magazine stuff I've done, though . . . and some other stuff." She then told a heartwarming story about her father visiting a psychic shortly after the OJ Simpson trial in 1995: "He never believed in psychics, but he went to see one after the trial died down. The woman told him, 'Your name is going to be famous worldwide,'" to which he assured her that no, he was hoping to lay low for a while and he didn't think his children would be in the entertainment business. "She kept telling him, 'I can see the Kardashian name being internationally known,' and he refused to believe it. My aunt and uncle and I laugh about that now."