Why Blac Chyna and Kim Kardashian aren’t so different after all

Following my post on Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian’s reality show trailer yesterday, a friend sent me a Buzzfeed essay called “How Blac Chyna Beat The Kardashians At Their Own Game.” If you’re a pop culture scholar, it’s required reading, if only for likening the Kardashian/Jenners to the “Lannisters of Calabasas.”

If, like me, you’ve been wondering why we should care about Blac Chyna, writer, Sylvia Obell sums it up perfectly:

And so the Kardashians, a family often accused of stealing black men, black features, and black culture, got beat at their own game by a black woman. And not just any black woman, but a video vixen who was never supposed to see the inside of the country clubs the Kardashians frequented growing up.

Back when Tyga and Blac Chyna were still a thing, they used to double date with Kim K. and Kanye West. In what seems like a plot line ripped from All About Eve, the girls started hanging out, and (naturally) documented every lunch and gym session on Instagram. While Tyga probably learned nothing from Kanye ranting at him, Blac Chyna benefitted from Kim’s media savvy and network.

All this time Chyna and Kim have been pitted against each other as adversaries, when in reality they have more in common than you’d think:

But even then it seemed strange to the media that a person like Kim would genuinely hang out with a woman like Chyna, regardless of the fact that they were both women on a quest to turn their social media stardom into an actual empire. Two women who had also been mercilessly slut-shamed in tabloids and social media, Kim for having been in an infamous sex tape released without her consent and Chyna for having been a stripper. Though their early life experiences may not have run parallel by any means, these experiences could easily have pulled them together. The media’s constant dissection of Chyna’s presence around Kim — indeed, often suggesting she may be some kind of interloper — hinged largely on assumptions that someone of Chyna’s class did not belong around moneyed people like the Kardashians, however new their money might be.

Obell profiles Chyna’s rise to fame from stripping in Miami to appearing as Nicki Minaj’s stunt double in Kanye West’s “Monster” video. From day one she set her sights on starting her own business, and saved up money from her gigs. In 2013 Chyna even attended JLS Professional Makeup Artist School. Obell compares Chyna’s entrepreneurial drive to Kim Kardashian’s: “Their timelines run parallel, separated by class, race, and an insider’s knowledge of the business.”

Even when she was first starting out, Chyna was protective of her public image, making sure clients could only see her strip in person. It’s for this reason she was upset when WorldStarHipHop posted a video of her stripping at a DJ Khaled party in 2011. In an interview with the Miami lifestyle website 305Honeys.com, she said, “We [Chyna and her manager] have told them in the past that I don’t want anything to do with being a World Star Hip-Hop honey. It’s not the look I’m trying to go for.”

Did you know she made Tyga wait two months before she went out with him because she was too busy? (Roughly the same length as Kim K.’s marriage to Kris Humphries, as Obell sarcastically points out.) “By every stereotype out there, a woman like her was just waiting for a musician or athlete to give her star power. Yet here was a stripper making a rapper wait two months for a date.”

If you think about it, Chyna may not be the bigger star of the relationship, but she seems to have more drive than her fiancé. Rob Kardashian has a sock line and sometimes appears on KUWTK. Chyna’s been hustling since her early 20s.

Like her friend Amber Rose, another woman who’s been scorned by the Kardashians, Chyna is quickly making a name for herself beyond being the “Lady With a Bigger Butt Than Kim Kardashian.”

Image credit: Getty Images

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