Credit: GQ

Why is Kim Kardashian on the cover of GQ’s ‘Man of the Year’ issue?

She’s a businesswoman, reality TV star, aspiring lawyer, and mother of four. Despite her long list of accolades, many people can’t help but ask: why is Kim Kardashian the face of GQ’s ‘Man of the Year’ cover spread?

Thred Media
5 min readNov 21, 2023


People may be rolling their eyes and wishing they could banish the Kardashian name from public consciousness forever, but the fact is — Kim Kardashian, specifically, isn’t going anywhere.

She broke onto the scene through reality TV, garnered fame as a controversial public figure, and eventually transformed her identity into that of a highly-esteemed businesswoman across a breadth of industries — shapewear and clothing, cosmetics, venture capitalism, and… well, the law itself.

There seems to be no pie (or bag of Cheetos) Kim isn’t willing to stick her fingers into. In fact, her name and universally recognisable face is currently splashed across a magazine cover typically reserved for the world’s most influential men: GQ’s ‘Man of the Year’ edition.

Though many patriarchal protectionists are kicking off, it should be known that Kim K isn’t the first woman to feature on the cover of GQ’s yearly edition. It’s happened many times before, with Rihanna as ‘Obsession of the Year’, Jennifer Lopez as ‘Hustle of the Year’, and Megan thee Stallion as ‘Rapper of the Year’ amongst other famous women printed on the cover. Yet this time feels different.

Let’s face it, most people despise the Kardashians. The born-into-privilege trio of sisters have been called every name in the book, yet their success — and wealth — seems to know no bounds. In a world where a tremendous portion of the public is rooting for you to fail, is succeeding not worth celebrating more?

Before I start jumping to the partial defence of a billionaire who doesn’t know I exist, let’s explore how a woman — especially this woman — stealing the Man of the Year cover is a symbol of the times… in good ways and bad.

Rather than ‘Man of the Year,’ as many have assumed from her tweet, Kim has been named officially by GQ as ‘Tycoon of the Year’.

Famously known for her raunchy, skin-bearing get-ups, the photoshoot sees her primarily cosplaying a more masculine vibe, posing for photos in loose-fitting suits and a short wig inside a top-floor, city-viewing office fit for a king.

This alone is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that Kim has managed to garner incredible personal and financial success in a world that still leans in favour of men. Looking at the statistics, women still only hold 10.4 percent of positions in Fortune 500 companies and 35 percent of top management positions globally. This is widely considered ‘progress.’

On that note, the choice to celebrate Kim will confuse those who Keep Up With The Kardashians unwittingly through Instagram’s algorithm which depicts a life defined by too-small bikinis, lavish trips abroad, and selfies taken inside a closet larger than most people’s living rooms.

However, anyone who’s been following the mogul’s journey behind the scenes will know that Kim’s professional life has taken some major turns in recent years.

Between being a mother of four, filming for her family’s TV show, managing multiple global brands, granting clemency for unfairly sentenced prisoners, studying for a law degree, and attending meetings with businessmen looking to invest in her private equity firm — Kim is wearing many (and increasingly heavy) hats these days.

And while we can’t forget the help provided by multiple nannies, assistants, chefs, personal trainers, and whoever else billionaires hire to take burdens off their shoulders — we also can’t forget that Kim could’ve easily stayed trapped inside the box that people wanted her to stay in: the trashy reality TV star.

Putting down the hater-ade and looking at Kim’s rollercoaster of a journey, it’s hard not to feel even a little bit inspired — at least as far as transforming your public image is concerned.

Labelled a narcissist by her own sister, Kim remains extremely self-aware of how persistent the perception of her as a throwaway celebrity is in the minds of the public. After posting a bikini photo to Instagram on the way to the White House, Kim admitted feeling worried and slightly ashamed.

‘I was like, “Oh shit, are they gonna look at my Instagram and think I’m so inappropriate?”’, she confessed to a small group of students after delivering a guest lecture at Harvard Business School. ‘But then I was like, “When is being me gonna be OK?”’

While some might try to paint this moment of contrast as liberating and barrier-breaking, the wiser of us know that Kim’s personal success has done negligible amounts for the feminist movement. Posting virtually nude photos on Instagram is still likely to hinder employment opportunities for anyone who lacks the platform, privilege, and net worth that comes with being Kim Kardashian.

Still, whether we want to drink the Kool-Aid or not, there’s no denying that this woman has gone from owning a humble LA boutique and now ranks among the most powerful people in the world.

Her influence and money-making power are not a matter of opinion — the numbers prove it. SKIMS, launched only in 2019, is now worth a whopping $£3.3 billion and has just launched a campaign and product line for men. As a result, the brand was named the official underwear partner for the NBA.

Speaking to GQ for the interview, her private law tutor Chuck Shonholtz said, ‘[Kim] is one badass woman. She is smart, sharp… She works her ass off. What we do together is so 180 degrees from the public-persona thing you see in the photographs and stuff.’

He continued, ‘I wish more people could see through the glam.’

Kim has now set foot in rooms where many people will still say she doesn’t belong, admitting along the way that she doesn’t know entirely what she’s doing, yet she has not been kicked out of those circles.

In fact, she’s welcomed back with open arms.Those in real positions of power do not scoff at the idea of being in the same room as her, they stop to shake her hand.

In the end, Kim Kardashian’s crowning as Man of the Year isn’t nearly as groundbreaking for feminism as it is a clever business decision by GQ. It doesn’t take anything tangible away from men, nor does it do anything for women by magically solving the widespread issue of gender inequality.

Most women — especially those without immense privilege — will still have to claw their way to the top of senior positions and, once there, deal with shtick from others who believe they don’t deserve to be there.

Slapping Kim on the cover of their Man of the Year edition is a timely business move on GQ’s part. In fact, it’s a genius one — because wherever the Kardashian name goes, there is controversy — and Kim will know better than anyone that controversy sells.

Originally written by Jessica Byrne for Thred