Did you ever tell yourself you’d never watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians only to be sucked in, or found yourself lurking on Kylie Jenner’s pregnancy video? That video was viewed 69,305,568 times – and I can guarantee you or someone close to you were one of those views.

Regardless of whether or not we tune into their show, this family isn’t going anywhere. On Instagram they have over 380 million followers between 5 sisters, several reality TV shows that millions watch and highly successful beauty product lines. These crazy sisters have created an empire, and whether we like it or not, society seems to be hooked. People everywhere are consuming their lifestyles, from recreating Khloe’s famous workouts or copying Kim’s looks posted on Instagram everyday. Love them or hate them, it’s undeniable that the Kardashian family have played a big role in establishing trends over the past decade.

Of course, the family didn’t become world famous overnight. Back in 2003, Kim Kardashian became buddies with the most influential socialite of the decade, Paris Hilton, working as her assistant. During this time, Kris aka ‘Momager’ was working hard at getting her family a TV show. Pitching the idea to Ryan Seacrest, the show began filming in 2007. Kim made another sort of introduction that same year: her sex tape with Ray J. Nobody could quit discussing it— it was a tremendous move, and all of a sudden the name Kim Kardashian was flying everywhere from Perez Hilton blogs to newspapers. The rest is history. 

The Kardashian/Jenner family are incredibly influential – they have helped girls all over the world embrace their curves, and taught them to self-love. For a significant part of the previous 30 years, stick thin has been the positive body shape, however in the period that the Kardashians have appeared to the world, they’ve made having a butt and curves something to be proud of. It’s not just Kim, Khloe is constantly on red carpets wearing bodycon dresses, showing off her beautiful assets and embracing them for everyone to see. However, conversely, many teens have been left feeling worthless, fat or not beautiful thanks to photos of celebrities like Kim and Kylie. The manufactured beauty created by stylists, makeup artists, and the perfect camera angle have become something for young women to strive toward, which has a negative psychological impact, and can result in severe body image issues. In 2016, Kim Kardashian posted a nude selfie on Instagram receiving comments like “why can’t I look like that?” – the effect that her falsified beauty can have on her audience is clear and quantifiable. But, the influence of these celebrities has started to migrate from every day people, to those in power. 

Recently Kim met with the President of the United States Donald Trump, also a reality star and social media provocateur, at the White House. They didn’t chat about Kanye’s new album, but the serious topic of criminal justice and prison reform. Specifically, they chatted about Trump granting clemency to Alice Marie Johnson, a 63 year old nonviolent drug offender currently serving a life sentence behind bars. Kim felt inspired by the prisoner’s story, as she felt her crime didn’t match her punishment, and that this is a common theme throughout the American judiciary system. Despite Trump criticising the Kardashian’s over social media multiple times prior to this meeting, a week after their little encounter, Trump decided to grant Johnson clemency.

People can trash the Kardashians and their lavish lifestyle, but this says a lot about Kim’s influence. Celebrities have power to affect policy changes on a national level because of the power they have over normal human beings like you or me. Truthfully, I find this scary because Kim and other celebrities don’t have the qualifications to back up the choices they are making. Yes, she used her influential powers for good and changed someone’s life forever. But what will be next?