Is it possible to have too much Kardashian?

LUCY CORMACK
Last updated 17:50 09/08/2014

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When Kim Kardashian prints a 352-page book of selfies will she suffer the same fate as Narcissus: a self love so great it became his downfall?

The buxom reality-TV star has announced the concept for a book, aptly titled Selfish.

Kardashian, 33, dominates social media channels such as Instagram, where her 17 million followers are given a behind-the-scenes look into her glamorous world. 

Social media channels today are saturated with selfies, but is selfie culture of 2014 any more vain than the self-portraiture of Van Gogh?

"Social media by its very nature is visual," says Dr Lauren Rosewarne, a social researcher at the University of Melbourne.

"Artists have been doing self-portraits for eons, yes we're seeing it more today, but that's only because the technology has changed."

Rosewarne said Kardashian's book is a perfect product of the age, as it taps into an already built market.
"Celebrities use social media because it makes their fans feel like they have round-the-clock access. They do this through selfies," she said.

It is selfies like this which will fill the pages of Kardashian's book, some of which, she says, will be "super-racy".

"I mean, every girl takes, like, full, like pictures of their ass in the mirror," she said in an episode of her TV show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

Rosewarne said the 2014 market means Kardashian has fans that appreciate that level of narcissism.

But University of Melbourne sociology lecturer Dan Woodman is careful when using the term narcissism.

He said narcissism is a psychiatric disorder and to characterise today's young generation as narcissistic is not fair. "It's not so much narcissism but a society placing new pressures on people, around presentation of the self and constant monitoring," he said.

"Few people are clinically diagnosable with narcissism. In the case of Kardashian it's not narcissism in the sense of someone who has turned inward and can only see themselves." 

Rather, said Woodman, Kardashian is well aware of the broader market, and her book takes full advantage of that opportunity for business. Rosewarne said Kardashian's unique market is selling overindulgence and obsesssion with the self. 

"One of the other reasons young women will potentially buy this book is that it will potentially provide an instruction manual of how to pose for their own selfies," she said.  

"I don't think we'll see selfie culture going away anytime soon."

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- The Age

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