Divorce is never easy on the children. And when the two people splitting up are the most famous reality TV star in the world and one of the most well-known rappers on the planet — whose every move is dissected and chronicled by the tabloids — things get even stickier.
Kim Kardashian dives into that uncomfortable talk in a new GQ cover feature, in which she looks back at the lessons she learned from her father, O.J. Simpson attorney Robert Kardashian, and dissects how he still inspires her to this day.
Kardashian and her ex, Kanye West (who now goes by Ye) first filed for divorce in 2021, completing their split in November 2022 after marrying in 2014 and having four children together. The GQ piece explores how Kim’s approach to the split was informed by the difficult divorce Robert Kardashian went through with wife Kris Jenner, something eldest daughter Kourtney said she knew about through the couple’s “whisper arguing. My parents never fought my whole life, so it was traumatizing when they did,” she said.
Kim, then nine-years-old — around same age eldest daughter North is now — never heard their fights, though, and when they called in the girls for a family meeting she said she “felt it.” She remembered her parents being “open” with them about the divorce, something she said she’s tried to keep in mind for when her children might ask her about their parent’s split.
“Ultimately, what matters is that kids feel loved and heard,” she said. “You want to be sensitive because they’re just kids, and it’s hard to go through no matter what age. You have to make sure that you only go to a level that they can understand. It’s okay to show a vulnerable side. You never go to a negative side.”
That said, restraint doesn’t completely alleviate the emotional difficulty of divorce, which, in this case, was compounded by Ye’s 2022 public meltdown, in which the rapper went on a series of hateful antisemitic rants and disturbing public pronouncements about Nazis that effectively melted down his once formidable $1 billion music and fashion empire.
“Just because I know how to manage my stress well doesn’t mean that I don’t feel the emotions,” Kardashian said. “If I’m sad, of course I will cry and feel it.”
The writer asked Kardashian’s sisters and a longtime friend how she’s changed since the divorce and they all pointed to a renewed confidence. “Not that she wasn’t confident before,” said younger sister Khloé, “but it’s a different assurance that she has in herself. She knows she can do it on her own. She knows the power that she has within herself, as opposed to thinking the power was in someone else’s hands.”
Childhood friend Allison Statter added that Kim was “scared” to break up with Ye, “‘Cause deep down inside she wanted her family to stay together. And because she was like, ‘I don’t know what life is going to be like on the other side of this.’ I was just so proud of her.”
The piece also touches on how Kim was influenced to launch a men’s version of her SKIMS shapewear line by her dad’s sartorial taste and interest in menswear. “This man had style,” Kardashian said of her father, who exclusively wore Gucci when he began dating Kris Jenner.
He always wanted to look cool,” she said, remembering him coming in to visit her at the trendy Encino, CA store Body when she worked there as a teen. “Diesel was one of the brands we carried. They had a cool pair of jeans. They were wax-coated. My dad’s office was really close by, so he’d always stop in. He said, ‘I have to have those.’ I got them for him. He would wear them with just a black T-shirt and a loafer,” she recalled.
Her self-made dad’s entrepreneurial spirt, and insistence that his kids learn a work ethic, has been passed along to Kim’s kids. As an example, she says North sets up a lemonade stand at the end of their street most weeks and hangs out for hours, using a clever sliding-scale payment method: $2 for randos, but sometimes $20 for people she knows. “I’ll get calls from my friends saying she charged them $20 for a lemonade. She’ll grab their $20 and say, ‘I don’t have any change’,” Kardashian said.
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