So, Kylie Jenner is in hot water (again) over stealing someone else’s work and using it to promote her brand. The latest incident, of course, involves lips, and namely a neon lip logo that she’s using to promote her new TV show Life of Kylie, a logo which appears to be very similar to the work of British artist Sara Pope. The artist is now suing Jenner and NBC Universal (parent company of the E! network) for copying her piece “Temptation Neon” which shows a pair of biting lips outlined in neon (see the two together below – yup, pretty similar. To be fair, the “biting lip” image is actually pretty iconic in itself, and actually harkens back to this movie poster for the Rocky Horror Picture Show, but that’s a whole other story).
But wait, back up – isn’t this on the heels of another lawsuit involving the use of images of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. on a series of ill-advised “vintage” T-shirts for Jenner’s fashion line? Yes, that was actually just a month ago, for which many people accused the Jenner sisters of cultural appropriation. (The fact that that actually happened is beyond shocking. What’s even more shocking? That the sisters have called the lawsuit by photographer Michael Miller, who owns the copyright for the images, “baseless”, which is obviously not at all cool). It’s also the latest in a seemingly never-ending legacy of copyright issues involving lips and lip imagery possibly co-opted from the work of makeup artist Vlada Haggerty for Jenner’s Lip Kits. And let’s not even mention the laundry list of other complaints filed against the Jenners regarding their other beauty and fashion lines.
With all of that being said, here’s the deal: out of all the members of the Jenner/Kardashian clan, Kylie is the one we’re most rooting for. Why? She’s not only the youngest, but she may also very well have some very deep-seated insecurity issues (because how could you not, coming from that family?), so we feel protective of her somehow. But it’s really difficult to do that when all of this “co-opting” (to be polite) keeps happening. Especially in this case, you can’t really separate the person from the brand. Even if Kylie herself was not directly responsible for copping somebody else’s art, this keeps happening on her watch, with her brands, so she must accept some responsibility for it and do something to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
At the end of the day, most of Kylie’s fans probably won’t care about this kind of thing, and it probably won’t stop them from buying her Lip Kits or her T-shirts. Only when something they care about very deeply is stolen or co-opted or used the wrong way will they rise up against it (as many likely did with the Tupac/Biggie case). But here’s why Kylie herself should care: Whether we like it or not, she’s a role model for many young girls and women, and what she stands for matters. She’s setting an example for millions of Instagram followers, budding entrepreneurs and quite possibly the next generation of businesswomen.
So she should do right by them, and lead by example, at the very least.