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Lala Kent Doesn’t Want You To Call Her A “Feminist”

Culture
Photo via Getty Images/Alberto E. Rodriguez

“Young Gloria Steinem,” who?

Lala Kent has been the object of an excessive amount of negativity since her start on Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules two years ago, but all the name-calling has resulted in Kent being given a new moniker: feminist icon.

But let's start at the beginning: In Season 4 of the reality television series, Kent appeared as the new antagonist to the show's “Witches of WeHo” coven (i.e. current and former SUR Restaurant employees Stassi Schroeder, Kristen Doute, and Katie Maloney), which put her in a difficult position—one that Kent says she’d “never want anyone to experience.” And yet, Kent held her own as a strong woman—especially for a television genre infamous for objectifying women, egging on catfights, and constantly pitting women against each other. Kent is a vociferous force with which to be reckoned, and one who doesn't always want to play into the manufactured drama.

“I can post about Katie’s [makeup line, even though I have Give Them Lala Beauty], no problem. I can support my castmate,” Kent tells me, as we eat lunch at SUR. “It’s very weird, the pitting of us [against each other] and everything. We just need to accept the fact that reality TV is for people who thrive off drama, myself included.”

Even while taking generous scoops of tuna tartare, Kent is radiant, sitting in a (bedazzled) sweatsuit miles away from the Vanderpump Rules confessional with its army of professional retouchers and hundreds of thousands dollars-worth of studio lights. I find myself fascinated by her skin—poreless, perfectly bronzed, almost polished-looking—before she catches me staring. “Botox,” she says, reading my mind. “Every time I go into Dr. Diamond’s office to get my injections, I always do a live video, because in no way do I want anyone to be like, ‘This person looks like this naturally.’” 

Kent cracks a small smile before revealing that, like, “half of L.A.” is also using Botox: “Nothing’s perfect. Lord knows I came outta my momma looking very different.”

Shielded by an aura of unflappable self-assurance, Kent possesses the type of in-your-face confidence that acts as a mirror to your own flaws. That said, she says she’s gradually grown accustomed to the issues her castmates—and viewers—tend to project upon her, whether it be related to their own relationship insecurities or body image issues. Specifically, she's grown used to the criticism that she’s just another classically beautiful, thin, white woman who has it easy when it comes to being body- and sex-positive.

“I feel like every single person at some point has experienced something a dude has either said or done that makes them start to feel uncomfortable about whatever body part... that’s why the conversation with Ariana came up,” Kent said, referring back to a moment earlier this season in which “super-hot” cast member Ariana Madix confessed that she struggles with body and sex issues as a result of a past emotionally abusive relationship. “How is anyone to sit there and say, ‘Of course you feel confident when you look like that?’ Like excuse you, I could look you up and down [and find] a million different things I’d trade you for.”

Her voice pitches an octave higher after we begin talking about some of the criticism, which also included people calling her brand of feminism reductive. “You’re not only offending me but are you saying that you have to be ugly to be a feminist? You can’t be a feminist if you’re quote-unquote good-looking? That’s so fucked-up,” she seethes before responding to the people claiming she’s merely posturing politics for the camera. 

“My whole thing is holding men accountable for their actions and that whole thing kind of evolved into Lala’s 'down for the power of the pussy' thing,” she says. “It’s all connected to me just being body-positive. I’ve never felt the need to talk about anything when I go in to film, but, like, everything that’s spoken about is how the men are fucking up.” She brings up Maloney’s husband Tom Schwartz's recent transgressions, as well as Scheana Marie’s boyfriend “being a dick.”

“It was kind of like, what if instead of fighting each other, we realized that our men kind of suck sometimes? Like put them on time out and get drunk together?” Kent laughs, rolling her eyes at the way so much drama seems to stem from the actions of men. “That sounds more fun to me than bickering about how your man kissed someone else.”

However, Kent is also the first to admit that she’s not perfect, and that is why she feels slightly uncomfortable with the “feminist” label, especially since “everyone is problematic.” There was even a recent moment in which someone apparently called her a “young Gloria Steinem”—a title that gave her “intense anxiety” as something she felt she could “never live up to in my entire life.”

“It’s setting me up for failure because a [by-the-book] feminist would not do half the shit I do,” she says, referencing her notorious “if you come for me, I’ll come for you” attitude. “In order to not rip myself a new one at the end of the day, [I have to realize that] this is a job we have to get done, and we’re crazy, and that’s why we have a show.” 

Or, actually, Kent reflects, “We’re not crazy, we’re just reactive people. We’re triggered in certain ways, we act out, we don’t go ballistic for no reason. We’re people." Her face falls for a brief moment, a wave of palpable insecurity crossing her otherwise preternaturally serene features. “If you’re a woman, I’ll be the first to bring you up and help you feel good,” she says, “But if a woman says bullshit, I will come for you, and that’s when people are like, ‘Oh, she’s not a feminist.’ I wish I could rise above, but I’m not God, I’m not Jesus, I’m not about the turn the other cheek.” She pauses for a brief moment: “I’m not about to rise above. I’m about drag you.”

That said, there is one moment she does wish she could take back—when she body-shamed Maloney, coining the infamous “summer bodies” line. “My momma always told me that you can attack and go for people all day long, but the one thing you can’t touch is someone else’s appearance. She taught me that from the time I was a little kid, so that moment was just disgusting,” another wave of dismay colors Kent's voice, which has grown slightly quieter. “It’s the one thing I don’t even really like to talk about it, because it’s like, ‘Lala, what the fuck?’”

Kent says that the two are in a good place now following a “major breakthrough,” which has also resulted in her making amends with the rest of the women on the cast, a departure from her quitting mid-way through Season 5 due to the show's drama having “too much of a negative impact on my day-to-day life." This all came on the heels of a story line that saw the entire cast speculating on Kent’s love life, namely who her mysterious, rich, older boyfriend was. 

It’s part of Kent’s overarching desire to protect her entire close friend group and family from the glare of the reality TV spotlight. “We talk about the authenticity of the show, but I’m the one person to step in like, ‘Yes, let’s be authentic, but we can still establish boundaries, just like we do in real life,” she elaborates. Citing that she didn’t feel like last year was the right time to lay everything out, Kent says that she “didn’t feel like this group deserved me talking about my personal life in detail.”

“I realize we signed up for a reality TV show, but I will stand behind my own belief that for every single person on the show, if there’s something you don’t want to talk about, you don’t have to, because that’s how real life works,” Kent said, before emphasizing that the people that really did matter to her knew everything. “I and my friends and my family who weren’t a part of the show knew the ins and outs of what was happening, but they were the people who, at the time, I felt deserved to know what was happening. It wasn’t only about protecting myself, but I’m protecting him and my family.” 

That said, she assures me that the two are happier than ever. Asking me to refer to him solely as “her man” (a power move, for sure), Kent is ready to fight the critics who say she’s just with him for his money: “If he were to go away today, I could afford my own car. I can survive with what I have.”

With that in mind, Kent maintains that another tenet of feminism is respecting the boundaries of other women. “Everything I’ve been through in the past two years has been quite eye-opening,” she said. “When I see certain women do certain things, I’m like, we don’t know the full situation.” For her, the biggest part of supporting women is pausing immediate judgment, especially within a world that constantly scrutinizes and picks apart their every move.

“I want to change the way [my version of feminism is] presented. I want it to be about being comfortable as yourself,” Kent says. “My thing is, let’s come together as women... I want to make sure everyone sits there as women and understands each other's circumstances—understands that it’s not easy just being who we are.”

She pauses for a second, a small smile spreading across her face, “The Man is always coming and trying to suppress us, and even though I love my man dearly, if he or anyone else, ever dictates who, what, when, and where my life is at... I’ll be damned.”

This interview was conducted before the unexpected death of Kent's father earlier this week.

Photos by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for WE Day, Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

He also thought Lana Del Rey telling him he would be guillotined was a compliment, so we don't think he understands women

In a new memoir called Then It Fell Apart, singer Moby alleged he had a relationship with actress Natalie Portman when he was 33 and she was 20. But, in a new interview with Harper's Bazaar, Portman set the record straight, saying that his description of their relationship is false and contains other factual errors, that makes his behavior seem even grosser than it already did.

Not only did Portman say that the two didn't date, but that he also misrepresented her age. "I was surprised to hear that he characterized the very short time that I knew him as dating because my recollection is a much older man being creepy with me when I just had graduated high school," she said. "He said I was 20; I definitely wasn't. I was a teenager. I had just turned 18."

She says that they met when she went to one of his shows: "He said, 'let's be friends'. He was on tour and I was working, shooting a film, so we only hung out a handful of times before I realized that this was an older man who was interested in me in a way that felt inappropriate."

Portman also stated that she was not contacted to fact check this information, noting that "it almost feels deliberate." "That he used this story to sell his book was very disturbing to me. It wasn't the case," she said. "There are many factual errors and inventions. I would have liked him or his publisher to reach out to fact check."

Another part of his memoir describes a conversation with Lana Del Rey, in which she joked about how wealthy he was. "You're a rich WASP from Connecticut and you live in a five-level penthouse. You're 'The Man.' As in, 'stick it to The Man.' As in the person they guillotine in the revolution." His response: "I didn't know if she was insulting me but I decided to take it as a compliment." This only further proves that Moby doesn't understand women at all, which may explain how he took a couple of hangouts with Portman to mean that they were dating.

Moby has since responded to Portman's statement in an equally creepy Instagram post with a photo of him shirtless with the actress, calling the interview a "gossip piece." "We did, in fact, date. And after briefly dating in 1999 we remained friends for years," he said. "I like Natalie, and I respect her intelligence and activism. But, to be honest, I can't figure out why she would actively misrepresent the truth about our (albeit brief) involvement. He also said that he backs up the story in his book with "lots of corroborating photo evidence, etc." He then ends with this: "I completely respect Natalie's possible regret in dating me(to be fair, I would probably regret dating me, too), but it doesn't alter the actual facts of our brief romantic history."

Among many other things that are questionable about his claims, if you have to have "corroborating evidence" to prove a relationship that one person claims didn't happen, you're doing the whole "dating" thing wrong.

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Photo by Jerritt Clark / Stringer / Getty Images.

She's been wonderfully honest about the ups and downs of her procedures

There is a good chance that, right now, Cardi B is wearing really something really tight. I'm not talking about one of the pieces from her Fashion Nova collection, either. Instead, she's probably cooing at baby Kulture while swaddled in a compression garment, a necessary part of the healing process after certain cosmetic surgery procedures.

As reported by E! News, Cardi B has had to cancel several performances after her doctor ordered her to rest and allow her body to recover following cosmetic surgery. A rep for Cardi explained to E! that "Cardi was overzealous in getting back to work" and that "her strenuous schedule has taken a toll on her body and she has been given strict doctor's orders to pull out of the rest of her performances in May." This followed an admission by Cardi herself, at the Beale Street Music Festival earlier this month, that she should have canceled her performance because moving too much would mess up her lipo.

Cardi's transparency about plastic surgery is nothing new for her. She has opened up in the past about her underground butt injections, including the financial pressure she felt and the risks she took to get them. She's been open about both of her breast augmentation procedures as well, most recently getting them redone after giving birth to her daughter. But Cardi's transparency about the ups and downs of plastic surgery is still rare amongst celebrities and is therefore refreshing.

And it's not just celebrities who keep quiet about these procedures. The first person I knew to get a butt augmentation was a friend from high school. We reconnected as adults, and I remember going to her apartment after her surgery, and seeing her pace the floor in her compression garment, since it was still too soon to sit and put pressure on her backside. But even in the comfort of her own home, she seemed to speak in a hushed tone about having had the surgery. Before I'd arrived, she just told me she'd had a "medical procedure," and didn't say anything more. This has been the case for other women I've met who have gotten "work" done, including my aesthetician, a colleague who got a nose job, a darling YouTuber with whom I had the pleasure of having dinner; all of them would only acknowledge their enhancements in secret—the shame was palpable, and unfortunate. It's clear that women who get plastic surgery might be celebrated for the results, but there's an expectation that they should keep quiet about it, and feel bad for having made a choice about their own bodies.

So it's no surprise that, in the pop culture realm, people like Cardi are exceptions to the rule. Thanks to the internet, we can easily track the fullness of a celebrity's lips or backside over the course of time without them ever explicitly acknowledging the medical intervention that took place. And while people, of course, have the right to privacy, and should be able to do whatever they want with their bodies without offering explanations, it would still be nice if they opened up, if only to take away the attached stigma that affects so many people. Which is why I hope Cardi's willingness to lay it all out there becomes a trend. No one should have to harbor shame for investing in having a body that looks the way they want it to.

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Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

"In my head I thought, This is how it ends"

Kit Harington almost lost a lot more than the Iron Throne while filming the final season of Game of Thrones. According to an interview with NowThis News, the actor almost lost one of his balls while riding a mechanical dragon.

Harington revealed that the incident took place when he was filming the scene where his character, Jon Snow, takes a ride on Rhaegal for the first time in the Season 8 premiere. Since dragons aren't real (sorry), Harington was filming the scene, where Jon almost falls off the dragon and then swings around to pick himself back up, on a mechanical contraption.

"My right ball got trapped, and I didn't have time to say, 'Stop,'" Harington said in an interview. "And I was being swung around. In my head I thought, This is how it ends. On this buck, swinging me around by my testicles, literally." We see shots of the fake dragon he's riding in front of a green screen, and it does look pretty terrifying.

Luckily, his testicles remained intact through the near-disastrous event, and he's survived with quite the story to tell to unsuspecting journalists.

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Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for goop

"I had to create a harder shell about being a woman"

In a panel discussion during Gwyneth Paltrow's In Goop Health summit, actress Jessica Alba revealed that she "stopped eating" to avoid unwanted attention from men when she was first starting her career in Hollywood.

According to People, Alba said that she "had a curvy figure as a young girl" and, as such, was made to feel as though her body was the reason that men may be inappropriate toward her. "I was meant to feel ashamed if I tempted men," Alba said during the panel discussion. "Then I stopped eating a lot when I became an actress. I made myself look more like a boy so I wouldn't get as much attention. I went through a big tomboy phase."

She continued, "In Hollywood, you're really preyed upon. They see a young girl, and they just want to touch you inappropriately or talk to you inappropriately or think that they're allowed to be aggressive with you in a way."

Alba also noted that she was raised in a conservative household. "My mom would say, 'You have a body, and it's very womanly, and people don't understand that you're 12,'" she said. "I wasn't allowed to have my nalgas out, which is butt cheeks [in Spanish], but I was born with a giant booty, and they come out of everything. So, I didn't get to wear normal things that all my friends wore."

She said that these reactions to her body really affected her attitude. "I created this pretty insane 'don't fuck with me' [attitude]," she said. "I had to create a harder shell about being a woman."

According to her, her relationship to her body only changed when her first child, Honor, was born in 2008. "[After she was born,] I was like, Oh this is what these boobies are meant to do! Feed a kid!" she said. "And that was the dopest shit I'd ever done. So, I came into my body as a woman finally and I stopped being ashamed of myself."

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Photo courtesy of Teva

Because of course

Teva, the most obvious lesbian footwear brand since Birkenstock, really knows its customer base. In time for Pride, the brand has teamed up with Tegan and Sara for a gay shoe to end all gay shoes. In other words, your Pride footwear is on lock.

The shoe isn't just your average Teva sandal. Tegan and Sara's design, the Teva Flatform Universal Pride sandal, is a 2.5-inch platform shoe with a rainbow sole. Tegan and Sara noted in a press release that they have been Teva wearers for pretty much their whole lives. "We got our first pair of Teva sandals when we were 16," they said. "This rainbow Flatform collab is like full circle LGBTQ+ Pride validation."

What's better, with each sandal sale, Teva will donate $15 to the Tegan and Sara Foundation, up to $30,000. The funds donated will go toward scholarships which will give young members of the LGBTQ+ community the chance to go to summer camps which will "help develop self-confidence and leadership abilities in a safe and nurturing environment." Tegan and Sara added, "Teva's generous support for our foundation will allow us to help even more LGBTQ+ youth."

Available today at Teva's and Nordstrom's websites, the sandal retails for $80.

Photo courtesy of Teva

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