Back in 2007, E! reality series Keeping Up With the Kardashians debuted on our screens. It wound up documenting not only the lives of its core cast, but also those of their future children too.
Over the course of 20 seasons, we witnessed siblings Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, Kendall, Kylie, and — for a time — Rob growing up under the watchful eye of momager Kris Jenner.
But while Kourt, Kim, Khloé, and Rob were 28, 27, 23, and 20, respectively, when the show was first released, Kendall and Kylie were just 10 and 9, meaning the duo had little choice in the matter of being famous.
Ten years on from KUWTK’s debut, Kylie ended up speaking out against the way she was thrust into the spotlight, admitting in a series of candid conversations that she felt uncomfortable with public attention and being famous.
During a 2016 episode of KUWTK, Kylie told Kim and Khloé that she believed in her heart of hearts that she wasn’t “supposed to be famous.”
“I feel like I’ve had anxiety for too long,” she said. “I feel too much, I care too much, I read too much. Some people are born for this life and some people aren’t. I just know I’m not supposed to be famous.”
She echoed the sentiment during a conversation with then–best friend Jordyn Woods a year later on her spinoff series, Life of Kylie. She said: “I just don’t know who I’m doing it for. It’s like I see Kendall [Jenner], Bella [Hadid], and Hailey [Bieber] — they’re just out here like every day, they put their outfits together, they’re made for this… Sometimes I wish I could do what they do but it’s like, that’s not me.”
“I don’t want my picture taken, I don’t want people to see what outfit I’m wearing,” she admitted. “Every time there’s paparazzi, I cover my face. I would rather wear this hoodie and Heelys and sweats every day.”
“The only reason why I keep it up a little bit is because of Kylie Cosmetics, but it’s so much pressure,” she added, speaking of her now-renowned makeup brand.
And in another memorable episode of KUWTK, Kylie even underwent a prosthetic makeover in order to have a day out undisturbed by fans and paparazzi and see how it would feel to be “normal,” as she had absolutely no recollection of a life before fame.
Fast forward to today, and Kylie’s fame has only continued to grow, with the now-billionaire owning several more companies of her own, including Kylie Swim, Kylie Skin, and Kylie Baby.
On the other hand, Rob — the only male among the KarJenner siblings — retreated from the spotlight almost entirely around 2013, notably going from a staple on the show to a rarely occurring figure since Season 7.
And following his public relationship and split from ex-fiancé Blac Chyna in 2017, Rob virtually fell off the grid, rarely being photographed in public and making a brief return for one scene in one of KUWTK‘s final episodes.
Later explaining the reasoning behind his absence on Watch What Happens Live, Kim said that Rob “has his moods.” She added, “Sometimes he’s like, ‘Look, I didn’t sign up for this.’”
And it’s the distinct difference in the way that Rob has been afforded a much more private lifestyle, while Kylie was made famous without her consent at age 9 and has been encouraged to maximize that fame despite her discomfort, that has become the subject of discussion over recent years. And some fans have now picked up on potentially concerning parallels in how the KarJenner kids are being raised.
For a bit of background, Rob shares his 5-year-old daughter, Dream, with Blac Chyna. Though he doesn’t post on Instagram all too often, Rob’s page consists almost entirely of photos of Dream.
Meanwhile, Kylie shares two kids with her partner, Travis Scott — the first being 4-year-old daughter Stormi, whom she often flaunts across her social media pages, too.
In fact, just days after Stormi was born back in February 2018, Kylie publicly announced her name as she shared a sweet photo of the little baby. A month later, the mogul had begun sharing photos of her daughter’s face on Instagram, and these days Stormi has become her consistent companion to showbiz events, photo shoots, and red carpets — not to mention being used as a promotional model for Kylie Baby.
Their second child, who was born back in February, is a boy. But over six months on from his birth, neither Kylie nor Travis have shared a glimpse of him aside from the odd post of his hands and feet. What’s more, they still haven’t even revealed his name to fans — a vastly different approach to the way Stormi was so quickly publicized and, arguably, monetized.
Similarly, Khloé has recently become mom to two kids: a 4-year-old daughter, True, and a 2-month-old boy, whose name is also yet to be revealed.
And while she shared photos of True publicly within weeks of her birth, Khloé — much like Kylie — has held back from releasing any detailed information about her new baby boy just yet. This also marks a distinct difference between True’s introduction to the media and her younger brothers’.
Interestingly, during a 2012 episode of KUWTK that saw the family attending a therapy session following a series of clashes between Kim and her other siblings, the difference in how Kris managed Rob in comparison with the sisters was raised. And it was acknowledged that she was more invested in their careers than his.
“My mom isn’t a typical manager, and that’s where she needs to divide her time a little bit better,” Kim said. “She is doing the best she can and I feel bad for her when it’s not her fault. I don’t think it’s her fault — she just doesn’t know how to raise a son that well. She does what she can [career-wise] with the girls. That’s her thing — girls.”
And this is something that may have extended to the next generation, with many fans suggesting that the focus on the young KarJenner girls is because “boys are not that beneficial for their brands,” and girls have more potential to become “the next generation of influencers.”
Drawing a direct link between the way Kylie showcases her daughter but not her son and her own upbringing in the spotlight, one Reddit user theorized that Stormi may end up resenting her brother for being “sheltered” while she was always “so exposed.”
“I have no problem with Kylie wanting privacy for her child, but it’s something that should extend to Stormi as well,” they wrote. “I do wonder if this is something that she may resent when older, that her brother was so sheltered and she was always so exposed.”
In fact, Stormi has already shown signs of being uncomfortable around the paparazzi. In one now-famous video, Stormi can be seen covering her ears as she exited a car to a swarm of photographers and fans outside her and Kylie’s hotel.
Many people have questioned why Kylie, who became famous at a young age without her consent, would expose Stormi to the same level of attention she now so clearly resents.
Interestingly, the difference between how the KarJenners treat their sons versus their daughters extends to the other sisters too, with some suggesting that Kim has already started to craft public personas for both of her daughters, North and Chicago, while her sons, Saint and Psalm, are a lot less exposed.
“When I think about it, even Kim doesn’t post her sons as much but always posts North and [emphasizes] Chicago’s looks,” one person wrote. “I think for Karjenners, boys are not that beneficial for their brands so they don’t mind allowing them more privacy.”
“She doesn’t share as many ‘funny’ stories about them,” one person wrote of the way Kim discusses her kids in the media, before going on to theorize: “Their whole brand is about the male gaze and being ‘It girls’ and they’re trying to slowly make their daughters into the next generation of influencers,” they suggested.
North, the eldest of Kim and Kanye West’s four kids, has been prominently in the public eye since birth. In fact, she made her Vogue debut at just 8 months old and has since appeared in Skims campaigns.
She undoubtedly has a strong personality and often goes viral for her cheeky remarks in the background of Kim’s Instagram. But Kim never wastes an opportunity to reinforce this public persona, telling stories about North dragging everything from her fashion choices to home decor — and even making the snarky parody account, @norisblackbook, a plot point on Season 20 of KUWTK.
Meanwhile, 4-year-old Chicago appears to be the quieter of the two, but Kim consistently refers to her as her “twin” and seems keen to push her girly personality, often sharing photos of her dressed as a princess and focusing on her looks. In fact, she recently received backlash for comparing Chicago to her supermodel aunt, Kendall.
But throughout her life, North has expressed a clear discomfort at the sight of any cameras, and particularly the paparazzi. This began at the age of just 2, when she shouted “No pictures!” at the paparazzi as they attempted to photograph her entering a ballet class. And four years later, North was still grappling with the constant presence of cameras, asking Kim during an episode of KUWTK, “Why are there lots of people every day taking pictures of us?”
Just last month, the 9-year-old screamed at Kim to “stop” filming her and her cousin Penelope Disick in the backseat of her car, before begging the mogul to “please delete” the video. And weeks prior, North had confronted paparazzi in France and asked why they hound her and her family “all the time” in a now-viral clip of the child walking ahead of her mom.
Some viewers even suggested that Kim was “actively” pushing North “into the spotlight” given that the beauty mogul was strolling behind her daughter in spite of the swarms of photographers before them.
And days later, North was filmed holding up a large “STOP” sign toward photographers filming her at Paris Fashion Week, which Kim simply described as a “funny” example of North’s personality.
But it seems Chicago is just as uncomfortable with the spotlight. In August, a viral video showed Kim, North, and Chicago leaving a shopping mall. As they left a store to a crowd of fans and photographers, North could be seen telling everyone to “shush” for the sake of her overwhelmed little sister. The trio quickly hopped on to a waiting golf buggy, where Chicago could be seen leaning into Kim uncertainly.
So, it appears that North and Chicago — who is nowhere near as publicly present as her elder sister — aren’t super comfortable with the spotlight. But despite Kim frequently being photographed with North and Chicago out in public, as well as her sharing countless photos of them on social media, her two sons, Saint and Psalm, are very rarely pictured. They also make very few solo appearances on her Instagram, and usually only feature in group shots of all the kids.
The other mom of the group, Kourtney, shares two sons and a daughter — Mason, Penelope, and Reign — with her ex, Scott Disick.
Mason’s birth was memorably broadcast to the world on KUWTK, and fans of the show then got to watch him grow up in front of their eyes over the course of 11 seasons and a series of spinoff shows.
He also looked set to lead the new generation of KarJenner kids into an even more prominent position on the show when he had his own confessional in 2019’s Season 16.
However, his presence as a new main cast member on the show was brief. Just three years later, Mason, now age 12, has retreated from the public eye and rarely makes an appearance on The Kardashians.
And Kourtney has previously suggested Mason doesn’t want to be photographed. She and Travis Barker have gone to some considerable lengths to shield him from the paparazzi and recently won praise for excluding him from family photos in line with his wishes.
Much like Mason, 10-year-old Penelope had a very public arrival into the world. Her birth was also filmed for KUWTK, and she featured on the cover of Us Weekly just weeks later.
Penelope was also present throughout multiple seasons of KUWTK and its spinoffs, which centered heavily on the Disick family. However, as she’s gotten older, she, too, has shown discomfort over being filmed.
In the aforementioned video of Kim filming the 9-year-old in the backseat of the car along with North, Penelope looked incredibly uncomfortable as she gave her cousin a side-eye when the camera was turned toward them.
What’s more, Season 1 of The Kardashians contained an uncomfortable scene where Kourtney called Penelope to tell her the news that she and Travis were engaged. An audibly distressed Penelope — who could be heard on speakerphone — burst into tears and swiftly told her mom to “hang up.” The moment was a clear indication that she was very much aware of the millions of prying eyes on her.
The youngest of the trio, Reign, was born in 2014. Interestingly, Kourtney took a different approach this time around and refused to film Reign’s birth for the show. And while she shared a photo of his hand a few days after his arrival, she waited a full four months to post an image of his face.
But Reign, like his siblings, has expressed clear frustration with the experience of fame. During an infamous appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2019, a visibly bored and annoyed Reign continually interrupted the interview to shout that he was “over the conversation.” Months later, he was photographed flipping off the paparazzi.
And during Kourtney and Travis’s wedding celebrations in Italy back in May, where the whole family were hounded by photographers, Reign was filmed yelling: “Give us a break!”
There are fewer children more famous than the KarJenners’ offspring, and with several of the cousins already exhibiting signs of discomfort over the scrutiny they’ve been subjected to since birth, it’ll be interesting to see who embraces it, and who ultimately shies away.
Rob laid the blueprint for the men of the family to retreat from the public eye. Mason appears to be following in his footsteps, while Saint, Psalm, and Khloé and Kylie’s sons are already being primed for a similar, quieter existence. It remains to be seen, however, whether the girls of the family are afforded the chance to do the same.
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