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Kris Jenner Has Spent Years Chasing Fame For Her Family, But Here’s Exactly What It Cost Them

From pushing her kids to expose their deepest traumas on KUWTK, to forcing them into uncomfortable work ventures, Kris’s relentless pursuit of fame over the years has impacted the Kardashians in ways that you might not have realized.

Closeup of Kris Jenner

It’s 2007. You’re watching the first season of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. You raise your eyebrows at the sight of Kris Jenner photographing her daughter, a 27-year-old Kim Kardashian, as she poses nude for Playboy.

Earlier in the episode, Kim had expressed her reservations about doing the shoot, especially in light of her recently leaked sex tape. Kris, however, seemed visibly desperate for her to do it, giddily telling her that it would be "so much fun" and an "awesome experience."

Screenshots from "Keeping Up with the Kardashians"

After lots of back and forth, Kim ultimately agreed to do the shoot under the condition that she wouldn't have to pose naked. However, after seeing the images of her in relatively unrevealing red lingerie, Hugh Hefner himself called a private meeting with Kim and Kris where he told them in no uncertain terms that he needed to see “more skin.”

Kim Kardashian posing for a photo

Despite being Kim's manager, with a duty to steer the conversation and ensure the best terms for her daughter, Kris seemed too overawed by being in the Playboy mansion to push back on Hefner's request. Instead, she excitedly encouraged Kim to steal some soap as a "souvenir," before agreeing to the nude shoot.

On the day of the shoot, Kris helps a visibly nervous Kim drape her nude body in strings of diamonds and pearls, telling her: "Just relax. Try to take a deep breath, OK?"

As Kim gets to work kneeling on the ground and arching her back, Kris snaps the perfect shot on her personal digital camera and says, "You're doing amazing, sweetie."

Kris taking a photo

The moment captured Kris in full momager mode, but Kim would later admit that posing for Playboy remains one of her few career regrets. And the fact that Kris was the one who encouraged her to strip for the shoot — against her better judgment, no less — can be seen as proof of her pattern of chasing fame and exposure at any cost.

But Kris's desire for stardom is something that existed long before the cameras arrived at their Calabasas home.

In her 2011 memoir, Kris Jenner... and All Things Kardashian, she reveals that her “lifelong dream” since childhood was to have her own TV show. And when “media attention” began “swirling” around Kim after the leak of her sex tape, Kris decided to “take advantage” of the notoriety, heading straight to Ryan Seacrest to pitch a reality show about her zany, chaotic, blended family that she’d wanted on air for years.

The Kardashian and Jenner families

However, the decision to launch the family into the stratosphere in this way was made by Kris alone. She made the pitch and agreed to start filming without consulting a single family member — including Kendall and Kylie who, at 10 and 9 respectively, were arguably too young to consent to having their lives on camera themselves. As their guardian, Kris granted consent for them.

And when Kourtney in particular expressed reservations about being involved in the show, Kris once again centered herself. Kris says she “reassured” Kourtney by telling her, “Nobody has to do it. But this is something I really, really want to do.” 

Then, when she finally managed to convince her family that KUWTK was a good idea, Kris issued one key instruction: Keep the cameras rolling no matter what.

Kris’s motto was upheld throughout all 20 seasons of KUWTK and its various spinoffs, but this dedication to drama has meant the family have had to expose some of their most private, vulnerable, and oftentimes traumatic experiences to the world.

Closeup of Kim

Take Scott Disick punching a mirror amid a drunken, aggressive row with Kourtney, or the moving moment Kim reunited with her kids following the horrific Paris robbery. Time and again, the KarJenners — as well as members of their innermost circle — have exposed their most vulnerable moments to the entire world.

And sharing so much has seemingly taken a huge mental toll on the whole family, with several members highlighting how traumatic it is to relive their worst experiences multiple times — first in the moment, then later in confessionals, and finally again when the show airs.

Khloé has been the most vocal about this repeated pain — which is unsurprising considering that she’s arguably suffered the most out of her siblings.

Closeup of Khloe Kardashian

From the very moment she was born, Khloé was made to feel different from the rest of the KarJenners. In fact, Kris even goes out of her way in her memoir to highlight how much she physically differed from “everyone else in the family” as a baby. Plus, when she was just 9 years old, Khloé overheard her mom telling a friend that she needed a nose job.

But once KUWTK began, Kris — who was an executive producer on the show and therefore involved in storylining — allowed those physical differences between Khloé and her siblings to become plotpoints. In one Season 7 episode, an entire storyline revolved around Khloé’s paternity, which was only questioned because of her appearance.

Closeup of Khloe

And in a 2011 episode of spinoff show Khloé and Lamar, Kris also openly body-shamed her on camera. During the episode, Kris outright told Khloé that her weight gain was affecting their family’s image, before going so far as to accuse Khloé of sabotaging the brand — something that understandably prompted an explosive response from the then-26-year-old. 

“To tell me I’m ruining a whole brand because of my weight gain makes me feel like shit. Get over yourself. You're such a fucking raging lunatic, and you’re so evil,” she yelled at her mom.

Khloé has also had to deal with repeated heartbreaks more than anyone else on the show. Her divorce from Lamar Odom as a result of his drug use and infidelity played out in painstaking detail on KUWTK, with Khloé seen sobbing on the day she filed for divorce, and moving out of their marital home. 

Closeup of Khloe and Lamar

But Kris didn’t just encourage Khloé to share these moments on the show; she also seemingly orchestrated drama outside of it, too.

Back in 2015, after Khloé had filed for divorce, she and Lamar had an uncomfortable run-in outside a 6 a.m. SoulCycle class where they were photographed by paparazzi. Lamar appeared to have ambushed Khloé, who looked visibly distressed. 

Closeup of Khloe

Years later, Lamar accused Kris of being the one behind the “chance” meeting. He claimed that he’d been desperate to win Khloé back, but Kris — concerned with the “Kardashian brand” — was set against it due to his drug use. He alleges that Kris told him Khloé had wanted to meet and talk, before alerting the paparazzi to their whereabouts. But when he arrived, Khloé clearly had no idea what was going on — and the ambush killed any chance of them reuniting.

Khloé eventually confronted Kris over the incident on KUWTK, and accused her mom of lying when she’d previously denied having any involvement. Kris spent the entire episode attempting to avoid Khloé and eventually laughed the whole thing off, joking that she’d “deny” until she died.

And once Lamar was firmly in the past, Khloé then suffered repeated public cheating scandals at the hands of new boyfriend, Tristan Thompson.

Tristan Thompson and Khloe Kardashian

Tristan’s first cheating scandal occurred in 2018, just days ahead of the birth of his and Khloé’s first child, True. In fact, while Khloé was in Cleveland preparing to give birth, Tristan was photographed looking incredibly close with a mystery woman at a bar in New York — and he was later seen entering his hotel with her.

Nevertheless, Khloé decided to forgive Tristan and even allowed him to be present in the delivery room when she gave birth to True — a decision that she has continuously defended over the years. This was documented in a super awkward episode of KUWTK, which, sadly, wound up overshadowing the fact that Khloé had just welcomed her first child.

And four years and several infidelity scandals, breakups, and eventual reconciliations later, virtually the same thing ended up happening again when Khloé’s second child was born.

Khloé decided to have another baby with Tristan via surrogate after the pair secretly reunited and got engaged in 2021. But by the end of the year, news broke that Tristan had fathered a child with personal trainer Maralee Nichols while he and Khloé were together and preparing to welcome their son.

An entire special episode was built around exploiting this trauma, and it led to widespread mockery and criticism of Khloé for taking Tristan back and choosing to have another child with him. In fact, as recently as March, Khloé was brutally dragged after she shared a gushing birthday tribute to Tristan in spite of their messy past.

This judgment from the media and public — as well as the harassment she receives from the paparazzi — has ultimately caused Khloé distress, to the point where she fears being out in public. “I just love staying in the gates because it's safe and no one gets you here,” she admitted last year.

In a 2022 episode of The Kardashians, Khloé shared that her anxiety has become so debilitating that she’d rather stay home than face criticism over her appearance and her relationship with Tristan.

“Everything is so critical. The way I look, my situation with Tristan. Is my hair done the right way? What is she doing?” she said. “I think it's gotten to the point that it’s literally safer to stay at home.”

“It's so easy for people to say, ‘If you don’t know them, don't pay attention,’” she continued. “But when you're walking down the street and even paparazzi is heckling at you the same things you're trying to avoid, it’s so deteriorating on your self-esteem, your confidence, the way that you view yourself.” 

And red carpets are no different for Khloé, either. Ahead of last year’s Met Gala — which was the first that she’d ever been invited to — the star admitted that her “anxiety was through the roof” as she walked the carpet. 

Closeup of Khloe

“Am I supposed to admit that I almost had a heart attack on that carpet tonight?” she tweeted after the esteemed event came to an end. “My anxiety was through the roof!”

In an attempt to help combat her anxiety, Khloé revealed that she now takes Beta blockers — medication that blocks the release of adrenaline. 

But what makes this particularly heartbreaking is that Khloé used to “really enjoy” doing interviews and making public appearances.

Closeup of Khloe

Reflecting on the earlier days of her career during an episode of Hot Ones last June, Khloé said, “I used to really enjoy doing interviews, and I would think it’s fun. Someone might ask you questions you’re never asked before, and that’s exciting.”

But now, Khloé said she often finds herself “dreading” the public response to her comments. “It’s the aftermath of what’s gonna come, who’s gonna chop this up and make this into something that it wasn’t supposed to be,” she explained.

The Kardashians

“It makes it so thought out and premeditated, and to me — I don’t like to overthink things too much,” she added. “I just wanna have a natural flow and enjoy the conversation.”

And in a similar vein, Khloé has been open about the fact that she was super secure in herself physically before KUWTK really took off. “Interestingly enough, I was so confident and secure before the show,” she said during the 2021 KUWTK reunion. “I became insecure because of everyone else telling me.”

“We did so many photoshoots where [Kim and Kourtney] would receive racks and racks of clothes, and I was told by so many different stylists, I was given about two or three pieces of clothing but not to worry because I would be in the background anyway,” she recalled.

While Khloé's personal life has taken center stage most recently, it’s Kourtney who gave the most to KUWTK in the earlier days. Kourtney allowed the worst of her and Scott’s drama — including infidelity rumors and his alcohol and drug use — to be displayed on camera for the sake of the show. In fact, most of the early seasons of KUWTK were single-handedly carried by their messy relationship, which lasted on-and-off for 10 years.

Closeup of Scott and Kourtney

However, this constant oversharing eventually became too much for Kourtney, who also consistently lamented her life in the public eye. And after seeing a therapist who told her to reevaluate her life choices, Kourt decided that she wanted to pull back from filming and instead focus on her three kids.

But in turn, this wound up hindering Kourtney’s relationships with Khloé and Kim after they took issue with her for not contributing enough to KUWTK

In fact, a memorable 2019 episode saw Kim, Khloé, and their production team confronting Kourtney over her unwillingness to let the cameras broadcast her entire life to the world. A year later, things only got worse as Kim and Kourt famously got into a physical altercation on the show — once again stemming from what they perceived as Kourtney’s apparent lack of work ethic.

Kourtney and Kim fighting

And in 2020, Kourtney opened up about how “toxic” the unrelenting schedule and sharing her life “nonstop for 14 years” had become.

“I have been filming the show nonstop for 14 years — 19 seasons and 6 spin-off seasons,” she explained to Vogue Arabia in 2020. “I was feeling unfulfilled, and it became a toxic environment for me to continue to have it occupy as much of my life as it was.”

For Kendall and Kylie, the cost of fame is slightly different from their older siblings. Given that they were just 10 and 9 respectively when KUWTK began, they completely lost out on the chance of a normal childhood.

Young Kendall and Kylie

Over the years, Kylie has been particularly open about feeling as though she was never “meant” to be famous. In 2017, she admitted during an episode of her spinoff show Life of Kylie that she has no clue what it’s like to “live a normal life” due to the fact that she had absolutely no control over which of her on-camera moments were displayed to the world during her childhood and adolescence.

“I started filming Keeping Up with the Kardashians when I was 9 years old. I really don’t know what it’s like to not have everyone know who I am,” she said. “I don’t know what it’s like to live a normal life, where people just don’t know who you are, to get out of the car and not have everyone stare at you.”

Longtime viewers of KUWTK will likely remember that in the very first episode, a then-9-year-old Kylie infamously danced on a stripper pole — something that actually sparked a lot of backlash at the time. Over a decade later, she publicly admitted that the scene was one she wished cameras hadn’t captured.

And Kylie has also revealed that she feels “constantly pressured” to maintain a certain image in the public eye due to her family’s fame — something that has massively impacted her sense of identity. “I just feel like for so long I’ve been putting on this different persona to the world,” she said on Life of Kylie. “I felt like I started to depend on social media, feeling the need to post all the time. I feel like I have to keep up this idea of who I am.”

The following year, Kylie told her sister Kim that she often fantasizes about a life away from the spotlight — and she’s only continued to speak out about her discomfort toward her fame in more recent years, too.

Kendall has had a similar experience. The 27-year-old was also thrust into the limelight before she was even a teen, and she’s been equally vocal on how fame has affected her daily existence.

Closeup of Kendall

Back in March, Kendall admitted that while she’s super grateful for her wealth and status as a result of her family’s fame, she wishes at times that she could lead a more low-key life. “There are times when I don't want to be 'famous,’” she told Vogue Italia when asked if she's ever wished “not to be Kendall.” 

She continued, “I've done a lot of work to come to love myself. But yeah, I definitely had moments where I wished I could stay out of the spotlight for a couple of hours.”

And both Kendall and Kylie believe their respective experiences of anxiety were triggered by finding fame at such a young age.

Kendall and Kylie

In 2019, Kylie opened up about her anxiety in a candid Instagram post, where she noted that “growing up in the light with a million eyes” on her simply wasn’t “normal.” And a year later, she told YouTuber James Charles that she’d resorted to hiding parts of her personality in order to protect herself from the harsh public scrutiny she’d long faced.

“As I got bigger and bigger, I just realized... When people used to say mean things about how I really am, my personality, and what I love the most about myself, it would hurt me more than almost playing a character and not showing people everything,” she admitted.

Meanwhile Kendall can trace the earliest instances of her anxiety back to when she first became famous.

“I remember being really young — I’d say 8, 9, 10 — and having shortness of breath and going to my mom and telling her that,” she told Vogue in 2021. “I think being overworked and being in the situation that I’m in now is kind of what set it out of control in a way.”

And Kendall went on to note that she sometimes even feels inclined to go to the hospital because of the severity of her panic attacks. “I've had times where I feel like I need to be rushed to the hospital because I think my heart's failing and I can't breathe and I need someone to help me,” she said, before adding, “Sometimes, I think I'm dying.”

And similarly, Rob — who went from a staple figure on KUWTK to one who retreated from the spotlight almost entirely — has made it very clear over the years that he, too, has suffered as a result of fame. 

Rob Kardashian and Kris Jenner

Rob has long remained reluctant to be seen in public, but his initial disappearance began when tabloids started drawing attention to his weight. 

Of course, given his family’s status, there was no way for Rob to function as a Kardashian without being photographed, in spite of his evident discomfort. And so, he pretty much went into hiding — even going so far as to fly back from Paris and miss Kim’s wedding in 2014 after seeing unflattering paparazzi pictures of himself.

And interestingly enough, Scott ended up revealing that Rob found his family’s fame “a lot” to handle, especially given that he never actually wanted a life in the spotlight.

“He was just getting out of college, and then he became famous quickly, and I think it was a lot for him to handle,” Scott said in 2016. “I don’t think that was the path he wanted to be on, and he just got caught in the middle of it.”

Closeup or Rob

It didn't help that after becoming an overnight celebrity, Rob was left alone with little guidance from Kris on how to navigate or monetize that fame.

During a 2012 episode of KUWTK, Kim said that Kris’s “thing” was purely raising girls. The revelation occurred while the family attended a group therapy session in a bid to resolve growing tension between Kim and her other siblings.

When Rob admitted to feeling as though he wasn’t being given equal treatment as his sisters, it was acknowledged that this was because Kris was simply more invested in her daughters’ endeavors.

“My anger, a lot of it stems from the working environment, because they all put this cloud on me like I'm a loser,” Rob said. “I blow up later because when there's a business opportunity, all my mom obviously cares about is the three girls [Kim, Kourtney, and Khloé].”

Kim later defended her mom, arguing that she simply didn’t know “how to raise a son” in the same way that she did her daughters. “I just don’t think she knows how to raise a son that well,” she said through tears. “She does what she can with the girls. That’s her thing — girls.”

Despite having ideas for businesses, nothing ever really took off for Rob in the same way it did for his sisters, and he’s since shunned life in the public eye entirely.

It’s safe to say that the only KarJenner who seems comfortable with fame is Kim — which is unsurprising given the show was built around her. But even she has been pushed to do things against her will — most notably the aforementioned Playboy shoot. In her memoir, Kris writes that her “instinct was to say yes” on Kim’s behalf.

Closeup of Kim

Quite literally noting that she wanted to live “vicariously” through Kim, Kris also admits in her book that she pressured her to go on Dancing with the Stars against her will in 2008.

At the time, Kim famously avoided any form of public performance due to her fear of embarrassing herself. Not only did she memorably cause a stir at a 2011 Prince concert after refusing to dance when she was invited on stage, but Kim actually fought with her then-husband, Kanye (Ye) West, because she wouldn’t let herself dance at his concerts. 

But Kim’s fear seemingly meant nothing to Kris, who was determined to have one of her children on DWTS for the benefit of their reality show. “I encouraged her to do the show because I thought it was an amazing opportunity to attract people who don’t watch E!” she writes.

Kim and Kris

“Kim was a little nervous,” she continues. “She’s not a dancer. She doesn’t have any moves on the dance floor... But it was my thing — I loved to dance — and I persuaded her to do it. I would have loved to have done Dancing with the Stars, and here, as with things before, I was able to live vicariously through Kim.”

And Kim has also experienced intense personal trauma as a direct result of her fame. The horrific Paris robbery is perhaps the best example, but the ugly demise of her marriage to Ye — and the brutal feud that came to follow — now also lives forever online for her kids to read one day.

And yet, the woman behind it all — Kris — has pretty much escaped the effects of fame unscathed. She certainly hasn’t come under the same amount of scrutiny as her kids, nor has she had to share the same vulnerable moments that they have. In fact, if anything, Kris has reaped the rewards of her family’s fame at her kids’ expense.

Closeup of Kris

Interestingly, Kim recently suggested that Kris has privately expressed her fear that her kids wouldn’t have endured so many personal hardships had she not pushed them into the public eye. 

This could be why the KarJenners tried pulling back and sharing less on Hulu’s The Kardashians, with Season 2 seeing a distinct decrease in the amount of personal drama exposed by the sisters, and instead an increase in their work-related ventures.

But as the amount of drama in the show dipped, so did its viewership. Several fans labeled The Kardashians “a chore to watch” as they expressed their disappointment over the lack of drama — which is sadly unsurprising, given that the KarJenners’ entire brand at this point centers around their willingness to expose their most personal moments on camera.

Lo and behold, when Season 3 dropped in May, the KarJenners were back to their most vulnerable selves: Kim broke down in tears over her and Ye’s feud — something that was completely ignored last season — and the long-rumored tension between Kim and Kourtney was finally addressed, too.

Kim crying

It’s entirely plausible that the KarJenners ramped up the personal drama in Season 3 as a result of the criticism Season 2 received, proving that their popularity amongst viewers depends on how much of their lives they expose — a direct result of the instruction to keep the cameras rolling issued by Kris in 2007. To put it bluntly, the KarJenners are seemingly trapped in the very cycle that they’ve spent years trying to escape.

But yet, this cycle looks as though it's set to continue, given that the next generation are also being prepped for a life of inevitable fame — literally from birth, in some cases.

And this isn’t just in the background of their parents’ fame, either. Before the age of 2, Kim’s eldest daughter, North West, had already cemented herself in the celebrity space by appearing on the first-ever cover of Vogue Kids. And despite only being 5 years old, Kylie’s daughter Stormi often attends showbiz events, red carpets, and photoshoots with her mom — not to mention the fact that she’s modeled for Kylie Baby as well.

But in spite of the KarJenners' apparent desire to push their children into the spotlight, there have already been several signs that the kids themselves are less willing. One now-famous video in particular shows Stormi covering her ears as she passes a large swarm of photographers and fans outside her and Kylie's hotel, while North has quite literally signaled for the paps to “STOP” taking pictures of her at 2022 Paris Fashion Week.

Interestingly, though, it seems that Kim, Khloé, Kylie, and even Rob are following in Kris's footsteps by focusing more on prepping their daughters for fame as opposed to their sons.

Not only do the siblings feature their girls in social media posts far more than they do their boys, but the KarJenner daughters are also frequently taken to red carpets and high caliber events with their parents.

Some fans have suggested that this is because the boys aren’t that “beneficial for their brands,” while the girls have more potential to become “the next generation of influencers.” This hasn’t been confirmed by the KarJenners themselves, but considering the way that their daughters are encouraged to pose for Instagram shoots — and how Kim has publicly compared her little girl Chicago to her supermodel sister Kendall — it certainly wouldn’t be surprising.

It remains to be seen how much freedom the next generation will ultimately have when it comes to publicly displaying their lives.But one thing that seems clear to us is that nothing has stopped Kris over the years. 

Not the constant judgment and ridicule that her kids have faced from the public over their now-immortalized traumatic moments. Not the fact that they’ve had to relive those traumas over and over again in the first place for the sake of the cameras. Not Khloé’s fear of red carpets and interviews, or Kylie’s desperate yearning for a more private life, or Rob’s disappearance from the spotlight entirely. Not their total lack of a normal childhood, which has now extended into the next generation.

Rather, Kris’s relentless work ethic has come to be celebrated in the form of gushing think-pieces and motivational interviews. To quote one of social media’s most timeless phrases, "The devil works hard, but Kris Jenner works harder" — and it seems that Kris has grown to love and capitalize on this very concept no matter the cost.