Dear The Kardashian Family,
You might seem like peculiar idols for me to admire. On the face of it, our lives couldn’t be more different: mine, as a Conservative MP, living in England, yours steeped in unprecedented glamour and money, the quintessential American dream. You’re not particularly politically engaged, you haven’t produced ground-breaking science, literature or even music. Yet, for me, there’s one thing you represent that can’t be easily gained or replicated, something invaluable which we both possess: tenacity.
Growing up, in Anfield, Liverpool, working hard was the foremost lesson I learned. My father, a bus driver, was often ill and my mother desperately tried to make ends meet as she trained to be a teacher. We hid from the rent man, skipped meals frequently. I vividly remember the feeling of true, unrelenting hunger.
That feeling meant as an adult, determined that, despite where I came from and the cycle of poverty in which I could have been destined to live, I would make a change. I vowed to work hard, and I did. I trained first as a nurse, then I moved to Central Africa to set up and run a school for a year. On my return, I set up an employee benefits company helping women balance their careers and parenting, which was soon earning me half a million pounds per year. I sold it, I became an MP, and I wrote books, becoming a best-selling novelist. I worked seven days per week, every week. I still do.
I learned that you have to take every opportunity that comes along and try your absolute hardest to make that successful. I never wanted my own children – three successful girls, aged 24, 28 and 30; who adore you too – to go without as I did. I wanted them to be strong, independent women who are powerful in their own right. Just like you, I wanted them to be unapologetic about who and what they are – to shrug off critics in sound mind that they are being true to themselves, whatever that may mean, and to value family. And, when I catch up with you on the TV from time to time, that’s what I see in you, the Kardashians.
Others may criticise you for being ‘low-brow’, for being the wrong type of role models, or being superficial or boring. Perhaps they are right in some ways, but I don’t think we should take our role models from one social class, or one area of life – strong women and strong families come in all shapes and sizes. Family has always been the most important thing to me and I can tell that, ultimately, it is for you too – except you’ve managed to turn yours into a global empire with an influential, modern matriarch, Kris Jenner, at the helm.
I’m not saying you’re perfect – who is? – and maybe this year you could do some things differently. I’d love to see you use your status and power to speak up for women who aren’t afforded it themselves and make some real change. But regardless of your pitfalls, I’ll always admire your savvy business skills and your ability to make what you have work for you in the best way possible. I know you’ll be around for years to come because in one way at least we’re similar – we’re always looking for the next opportunity, and we take it. And that’s something that I hope the next generation can learn from you too.