Kim Kardashian Then & Now!
Publication: Stanton Daily. Posted by Jake Frost
Kim Kardashian Then & Now!
Publication: Stanton Daily.
Posted by Jake Frost

“At the end of the day, life is about being happy being who you are, and I feel like we are so blessed to have the support system and the best family to really just support each other no matter what we’re going through.” Kim Kardashian is a reality television star, entrepreneur, and socialite who is, undoubtedly, the most famous of the Kardashian-Jenner clan. She launched her show business career in the new millennium as socialite Paris Hilton’s best friend but saw her career take a new path in 2007 when a sex tape she made with her then-boyfriend, rapper Ray J, was leaked to the press. Caught in a media frenzy, Kardashian cashed in on her growing fame and launched her own reality series, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, on the E! Network.

With millions tuning in each week to catch up with Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, Kendall, Kylie, Kris and the rest of the family, the Kardashians have become international celebrities and social media icons. Amid her growing success, Kim has built an impressive brand with her name on everything from teeth whitening gel and spray tans to the mobile app game Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. She’s made even bigger headlines since 2014 when she settled down with rapper Kanye West. Over the last few years, they’ve started a family with the birth of their three children—North, Saint, and Chicago. So, how does the 37-year-old socialite and entrepreneur manage motherhood with her role as a reality television star and social influencer? Let’s take a look at Kardashian’s career and why she truly loves when people underestimate her!

Early Life: The Kardashian Name

“Having lots of siblings is like having built-in best friends.” The second of four children born to Robert Kardashian and his wife, Kris Houghton Kardashian, Kimberly Noel Kardashian came into this world on October 21, 1980 in Los Angeles, California. Thanks to her father’s prosperous career as an attorney, the family was already well-known around Los Angeles, but their popularity skyrocketed in the 1990s when Robert agreed to defend the family’s longtime friend and Kim’s godfather, professional football star O.J. Simpson, in the murder trial of the century. By the time the trial made headlines in the mid-1990s, Kim’s parents had already divorced and her mother, Kris, had remarried 1976 Summer Olympics decathlon winner Bruce (now Caitlyn) Jenner.

Like her older sister, Kourtney, and her younger sister, Khloe, Kim attended Marymount High School, an all-girls Catholic school. After graduation, Kim’s interest in fashion is what introduced her to a young socialite named Paris Hilton who hired Kim as her fashion stylist. It was around this time that Kim’s father, Robert, passed away from esophageal cancer. It was also the same year that Kim started dating rapper Ray J, but more on their relationship in a moment!

As Kim gained more and more media attention thanks to her friendship with Hilton, her popularity skyrocketed in early 2007 when a sex tape she made with Ray J in 2003 was leaked to the press. At the time, Vivid Entertainment purchased the video and distributed the tape as the adult film, Kim K Superstar. Kim sued the company for releasing the tape without her consent and was later awarded $5 million. But that wasn’t the end of the media frenzy as Kim’s mother, Kris, had a plan of her own—to push the family into reality television.

With Kris pitching a reality series to the E! Network, Keeping Up with the Kardashians was born as the family made their television debut in October 2007. The series, which focuses on Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, Kendall, and Kylie, became an instant hit and put the Kardashian-Jenner clan on the map as Kris took the reins of her daughters’ careers. Ironically, Kourtney, Kim, and Khloe were only interested in promoting their new clothing boutique—DASH—and little did they realize just what was in store for the Kardashian name.

“At the time, there was nothing specific,” Kim said of her mom’s vision for her career. “We were getting calls to do this and that. Our thinking was that maybe there’s power in saying yes to things. I look back on certain business ventures and say, ‘Well, I wouldn’t do that today.’ I did everything from endorse a cupcake mix to travel to Vegas to open up the Sugar Factory. We had so many great experiences along the way, and so many times we thought, ‘Well, this has got to end soon. We’re only going to do one season.’ My initial reasoning for wanting to do the show was to blow up our clothing store. I had to talk my sisters into it. They really didn’t want to do a TV show. I was like, ‘You guys, it’ll be amazing press for our store…’”

Settling into Fame and Building a Brand

“I learned all my business sense from my dad. He always believed in me, and I think the last thing he said to me before he passed away was, ‘I know you’re gonna be OK. I’m not worried about you.’” Kim’s celebrity status earned her hundreds of opportunities in the spotlight from performing with Mark Ballas on Dancing with the Stars in 2008 to making guest appearances on popular series like How I Met Your Mother (2009), Beyond the Break (2009), Drop Dead Diva (2012), Last Man Standing (2012), 30 Rock (2012), American Dad! (2014), and 2 Broke Girls (2014). In 2008, she was a guest judge on America’s Next Top Model and guest-hosted the popular pay-per-view event WrestleMania XXIV. She also made her feature film debut in the 2008 disaster spoof comedy flick, Disaster Movie, and has since followed up with appearances in Deep in the Valley (2009), Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (2013), and Ocean’s 8 (2018).

While the opportunities are endless as Kim has put her face and name on everything from lip gloss and fragrances to spray tans and teeth whitening products, Kim earns the biggest chunk of her growing $350 million fortune as a social media influencer. Leveraging her television success to generate a profitable side business by launching Kimsaprincess Productions LLC, Kim has endorsed everything from cosmetics to fast food in addition to releasing her own product line, The Kardashian Kollection, and her Kardashian Beauty cosmetics collection. She earns an upwards of $25,000 for every sponsored post she makes on Twitter and Instagram, which doesn’t even account for the profit she generates from the DASH boutique and ShoeDazzle, the latter of which currently has over three million monthly customers!

Despite her ongoing success, however, many argue that Kim (and the rest of the Kardashians) lack talent and are simply famous for being famous. After over a decade in the spotlight, Kim doesn’t mind the criticism and has learned to welcome it. “I used to say, ‘I love being underestimated.’ But now when I hear, ‘They’re so not talented,’ ten years into it, I’m kind of like, ‘Okay, give a girl a little respect,’” Kim says. “If I’m so not talented, if I do nothing, then how is my career my reality? And I poke fun at it, like when I was on the cover of Forbes I posted the hashtag #NotBadForAGirlWithNoTalent. I don’t mind being underestimated because it does fuel me. But, after a while, I do feel like, ‘C’mon, you can recognize a little bit.’ You can say a lot of things about me, but you cannot say I don’t work hard. I don’t sing. I don’t dance. I don’t act. But I am not lazy.”

Life at Home

“I’m a really nostalgic person. I love taking photos and video and having memories. I remember all my childhood videos that my dad used to take. I think that’s really what life is about—especially when you start a family of your own.” While Kim often gets criticized for her “lack of talent” and lifestyle, there’s no question that the 37-year-old isn’t lazy as many like to assume, especially since tying the knot with rapper Kanye West in 2014. West marks Kim’s third marriage after she eloped with music producer Damon Thomas in 2000 at only 19 years old. Divorcing Thomas in 2003, Kim married NBA star Kris Humphries in 2011 but filed for divorce 72 days later. While her divorce was pending, she started dating her longtime friend, Kanye West.

Kim announced her pregnancy early in the year and, shortly after her divorce to Humphries was finalized, welcomed daughter North West into the world on June 15, 2013. Kim and West announced their engagement on October 21, 2013 and then married the following May at Fort di Belvedere in Florence, Italy. The wedding was highly publicized and has set a new precedent for Kim’s personal life especially since she and West welcomed their son, Saint West, into the world on December 5, 2015. Because Kim had very difficult pregnancies and suffered from placenta accrete after the birth of both her daughter and son, Kim opted for a surrogate to carry her third child, daughter Chicago West who was born on January 19, 2018.

“I refer to her as a surrogate, but it’s completely mine and Kanye’s DNA, so technically that’s called a gestational carrier. A surrogate is when they use the husband’s sperm and the surrogate’s egg,” Kim says. The couple worked with agencies to find the right candidate to carry their child. “It was a feeling. You know when you can trust someone,” Kim said of knowing when she found the right person. Once the process was underway, Kim requested the baby be born in Los Angeles and that the surrogate use her doctor. She also asked the woman to eat as organically as possible, which worked out since that’s how the woman already ate. “I straight up told her, ‘Look, I ate donuts every single day. If you want donuts and ice cream, go for it. Do whatever you feel, I’m not going to be picky like that. That’s just ridiculous.’”

For Kim, the surrogate was a godsend since her pregnancies were incredibly difficult, but she still struggled with the idea. “As much as I hated being pregnant, I still wished I could have done it on my own,” she says. “The control is hard at the beginning. Once you let that go, it’s the best experience. I would recommend surrogacy for anybody.”

As for whether or not she and Kanye plan to have any more kids, Kim isn’t sure what the future holds especially since she’s finally settling into life as a mother of three. Then again, this is the same woman who always envisioned having four kids. “My home and my heart feel really full right now, in the best way,” she says. “I don’t think I could handle more than four. My time is spread really thin. And I think it’s important that in all couples, the mom gives the husband as much attention as the kids…” So, how is her relationship with Kanye now that the couple are juggling stardom and their marriage with parenthood?

“He’s taught me to have more of an opinion. I’ve taught him to be a bit more calm or cautious. We’re a good balance,” Kim says. Of course, they continue to make time for one another, but their priorities have certainly changed as they navigate parenting bi-racial children in the world today. “I’m very conscious of it,” Kim says. “Kanye always has his family around and people who look like my daughter—that’s important to me. She’s obsessed with her curly hair, and if she finds someone who has the same hair, she runs to them and is like, ‘You have curly hair like me?’ And we get to talk about it. We also talk about it with my niece Penelope, because she and North look really different, but they’re best friends and they’re together all the time…”

While many may criticize Kim for making millions off her stardom and social influence, it’s hard to argue with her parenting style as she and Kanye work to raise well-rounded children even amid their lavish life in Hollywood. “Kanye and I want to raise our kids to be really aware,” Kim says. “I think that’s all you can do. The more you talk about things and keep them out in the open, the more they won’t be taboo. Kids are really open. They say anything. So, if you educate them, they feel like they have this knowledge and then they feel empowered.”