Kim Kardashian West as Keynote Speaker for BlogHer Conference Divides Bloggers

Reality star will address women's social media conference next month in LA.

ByABC News
July 27, 2016, 7:01 AM
Kim Kardashian West arrives at Hakkasan Las Vegas Nightclub on July 22, 2016 in Las Vegas.
Kim Kardashian West arrives at Hakkasan Las Vegas Nightclub on July 22, 2016 in Las Vegas.
Denise Truscello/Getty Images

— -- Kim Kardashian West may be a master at leveraging social media and nurturing her own enduring brand, but news that she is a keynote speaker at next month's BlogHer conference was met with both cheers and jeers from fellow bloggers.

Kardashian West is scheduled to speak August 5 at BlogHer, considered the year's biggest conference for women bloggers. The annual conference is expected to draw some 5,000 bloggers to this year's site, Los Angeles.

For conference organizers, the choice announced last week seemed obvious.

"Kardashian West is one of the most influential women on social media in the world. She has parlayed her influence into a huge media, commerce and mobile app empire, including making tens of millions on her app alone. And it’s an empire with women in the driver’s seat," Elisa Camahort Page, a co-founder of BlogHer told ABC News in a statement. "Moreover, both her huge fan/customer base and her critics are largely women. So she’s completely relevant for what is, after all, a women’s social media conference."

But, the selection had many bloggers scratching their heads and more.

"I get on Facebook and all of a sudden I kept seeing commentary about Kim Kardashian and it was all negative," New Jersey-based writer Kim Bongiorno, author of the blog "Let Me Start By Saying, told ABC News. "There were people trash-talking BlogHer, saying, 'Now I'm glad I'm not going,'...just really talking negative about the decision and Kim Kardashian as a person."

Some of the negativity Bongiorno even had a name for: "slut shaming."

Chicago-based writer Chrissy Woj, who blogs at Quirky Chrissy, was among those who initially had a negative reaction to the announcement.

"I don't look to her as a role model and I think that's where my initial visceral reaction was," she told ABC News. "I don't watch reality TV. All I see is her making the headlines and her husband making headlines. Initially, I was not sure what was going on with their (BlogHer's) thought process."

Meanwhile, Bongiorno, who doesn't exactly count herself as a fan of the reality star, figured the conference organizers had good reasons for picking Kardashian West.

Tired of hearing all the trash-talking, she wrote a Facebook post that drew hundreds of likes and comments.

"The people talking trash were only hurting themselves," she said about her initial reaction. "Given the status of what going on in the world, this us vs. them, there are a lot of people refusing to hear each other." What surprised Bongiorno is that the blogger community couldn't see that they were doing the same thing.

"Why is her voice any less valid than yours?" Bongiorno pointedly asked her Facebook followers.

In her lengthy post, she pointed out that conference attendees had a similar reaction to last year's keynote speaker, Gwyneth Paltrow.

"I got some really great nuggets from her talk," Bongiorno recalled. "A lot of naysayers had the same experience. A lot of people came out of that saying she wasn't as bad as I thought she was."

Bongiorno believes attendees could have the same experience with Kardashian West, who she thinks is "way more than the nude pictures."

Not only is her brand and business "very woman-centric" but Bongiorno is impressed by how she has managed to maintain success over the years despite being such a polarizing figure.

After reading Bongiorno's post, Woj began to feel differently about wanting to hear Kardashian speak. And although she had already planned not to attend the conference, she said, "I'm a little disappointed that I won't be there to hear what she has to say."

For the conference organizers, the kind of discussion generated by their announcement was what they were hoping for.

"Any time someone engenders such strong reaction from women I’m going to want the women in our community to hear from such a figure directly," Camahort Page said in her statement, "and in a more intimate, in-real-time setting."

As for Kardashian herself, she's saving her remarks for when she takes the podium in a couple weeks. She declined ABC News' request for comment.

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