Words by Shatay Speights

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Model and activist Adwoa Aboah is far from happy about the fashion industry recognizing Kim Kardashian as an influencer at the CFDA Awards.


On Monday evening, the CFDA Awards, affectionately known as the Fashion Oscars, took place and honored the achievements and strides of the best in the fashion industry. This year, Kim Kardashian was awarded the CFDA’s first-ever Influencer Award for her influence and impact in the current digital age.

Model Winnie Harlow took to Instagram to show her excitement and love for Kim Kardashian, highlighting the amazing person that the KKW Beauty founder is and how she is so deserving of the Influencer Award. On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, Aboah was bothered by Harlow’s portrayal of Kardashian as an influencer and left a comment under Harlow’s photo to express her disdain. Between Harlow’s caption and Aboah’s comment, a social media debate arose that divided users on opposite ends of the conversation.

In her comment, the Gurls Talk co-founder stated: “Is this a joke babe… In what world has she inspired women to be themselves? She is no icon nor an influencer and I find it completely crazy that anyone would think she was.” Many users were in support of Aboah, liking her comment and posting replies agreeing with her claims.

Harlow fired back with a response to defend the KUWTK star, saying: “We’ve all been up against all kinds in these industries. I may not agree with everything anyone does but I show love where I feel its due. And a woman being herself against everything is admirable. I’ve done dumb things and learned to correct because we’re all human. Im still beat up for things and I understand how it feels. I do think she inspires others to be themselves…maybe I just want to see the best in people. There are negatives to everything but… she’s a great human being.”

In regards to the recent British Vogue cover star’s comment, disagreeing with the CFDA win for Kanye West’s wife, her outrage is not displaced. The contributions and influence of Black women (and men), especially in fashion spaces, are oftentimes overshadowed or forgotten. Aurora James, the Creative Director of the shoe and handbag brand Brother Vellies, who was up for the Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent was snubbed Monday night at the CFDA Awards. Women like Bethann Hardison, Beverly Johnson, Misa Hylton, Pat Cleveland and many others have made significant contributions to the fashion industry but are names that are not mentioned like models, designers and stylists who are not of color. Black fashion veterans rarely get their recognition and praise for their efforts within the industry.

It is also important to note the significance of Kardashian being praised for her features, style and sexual expression while Black women and women of color are consistently ostracized from the industry for the same things.

However, for Aboah to say that the beauty mogul is not an influencer or an icon is a misplaced claim. Her ability to turn her career from being a socialite to a social media expert and brand influencer coupled with her ability to set a standard in beauty and aesthetics have been pretty iconic to witness. Her following boasts in the tens of millions, women all around the world seek to achieve her likeness, projects she starts turn to gold and social issues she gets behind garner major attention. Her platform gives her the ability to be in front of some highly important people and in some exclusive circles. She had her followers dragging producer Rhymefest on Twitter when he was at odds with Kanye West; she had women feigning (briefly) for appetite suppressant lollipops ; she has become one of the most popular brands in beauty; she is one of the most coveted cover stars; her name is literally a buzz word and a host of other examples. Kim Kardashian is influential without question!

For the social media maven to get this kind of award from a fashion organization might have been the more comical part. Kardashian even opened up her acceptance speech making a joke of her winning the awards, saying “I am kind of shocked that I am winning a fashion award when I am naked most of the time.”

While it is easy to see why Aboah was unhappy with Kardashian’s win, her outrage and feelings towards the reality star cannot overshadow the obvious impact that Kardashian has on society, especially in this digital age.