the appeal of celebrity siblingdom
While it’s difficult to brand siblingdom a trend given that a) it’s been going on since the beginning of life itself, and b) you don’t exactly get to choose it, it nevertheless feels that celebrity siblings are more prominent that ever.
When I was a wonky-toothed ten-year-old I worshipped the Olsen twins. I had the dolls; I had the halter neck (pre-The Row, alas); I had the Playstation game, and a colour coordinated library of Two of a Kind books; and I'm pretty sure the approximate 367 times I watched Winning London, subliminally motivated me to move here 12 years later. But the source of obsession ran deeper than an appreciation of sassy one-liners and matching denim skirts. What really hooked me was the magnetic, impenetrable, mystical unicorn that is twindom. I could buy as many oversized sunglasses and Starbucks as I liked, but nothing could fulfill my fantasy of having an identical twin sister. I still loved my older brother wholeheartedly - but a ready-made best friend with whom I could converse with telepathically and coordinate outfits he was not.
Skip to 2015, and to speak of siblings is to speak of the Kardashian krew. Love to hate 'em, hate to love 'em; they are undeniably the most glaring familial force in today's headlines. There they are, matching monochromes and contoured masks at the opening of the latest Dash store in the ritziest part of town; supporting the brother-in-law from an Anna Wintour and Lorde #frow sandwich; or fronting Cosmo's new issue a "America's first family".
But they're not the only siblings who have successfully played up to their famous family ties. Kendall's friends, the Hadid sisters, are also raking in the gigs. Then there's Lena Dunham's sister Grace, who made her catwalk debut at Ekhaus Latta's spring/summer 16. And of course, i-D's two previous cover stars - Willow Smith and Elle Fanning - each make up half of their own power duos.
Now, it'd be easy to dismiss sibling success stories as straight up nepotism. In the entertainment industries, success is measured in followers as much as talent, and with thousands of people pumping content into the cybersphere, to 'succeed', you need something that sets you apart from the masses - and it's much easier to become a household name if half of that name is already pretty established.
Even though having a famous sibling may propel you into the limelight, you can't rest on your laurels if you want to stay in the public psyche and maintain a career from it. You've got to have something - whether that's a specific talent, or a big, fascinating, fairly wild family to capitalise on. That Elle Fanning had significant advantage in launching an acting career does not undermine the hard work and talent she's invested to move it forward. And though some would argue the merits (or existence) of Kimmy K's talent, she had more than just a particularly pert butt to back up her initial sexposure. As producer of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and the sisters' self-appointed big brother, Ryan Seacrest, identifies in Cosmo: "what resonates is the family unit. There are so many things about them that are glamorous, crazy, and unlike our lives, but the sense of family is universal." So while it's hard to comprehend trotting up to Versailles for our wedding reception in a horse drawn carriage, we can probably relate to scrapping over who picks up the dog crap.
Yet while Seacrest is claiming big brother rights, noticeable in his cover star absence is the Kardashian's actual brother. In fact, most of the current sibling powerhouses follow this sister-heavy suit - the Fannings, the Knowles, the Hadids, the Haims, the Dunhams, the Delevingnes. Our focus on said sisters isn't all that surprising, given the current craving for a more diverse representation of female relationships beyond the traditional "mean girls" skit. It's a sense of sisterhood similar to Taylor's infinitely Instagrammable #squadgoals.
Similar, but not the same. Taylor's ethos of "We're-all-friends-here-guys-no-drama-no-none-at-all!"is great - it's nice to see positive female friendships championed. But it doesn't scream 100% real. It's hard to buy Taylor's sentiment that everybody's friends with everyone and everything's all good because #squadgoals guys! Every relationship - be it platonic, romantic, familial, ambiguous - has ups and downs. That's what's unique about siblingdom - it has the capacity to span both the ironclad unity that Taylor's campaign attempts to evoke, as well as the drama, hysterics and pettiness inevitable in all relationships. Publically. We can watch Solange and Jay Z scrap it out in an elevator, and still trust that Bey and her baby sis will iron it out. The Kardashians may get critiqued for fakeness on a few fronts (or backs), but for all their supposed inauthenticity they make no attempt to gloss over the chaos that comes with their high-octane unit. The unconditional love of such blood bonds exudes a genuineness and longevity that their reality TV predecessors (and successors) struggled to replicate.
I'd like to think that Seacrest's words are more credible than his tan - that our fascination with celebrity siblings is a reflection of our unconditional connection to - and affection for - our own siblings.
Text Georgie Wright
Photography via @kimkardashian