The news dropped, well, less like a bombshell and more like a stale, half-price box of Russell Stovers at CVS post-Valentine’s Day: Kanye West and Julia Fox were over. A mere two months after the pair were first linked on New Year’s Eve, a whirlwind romance chronicled with equal parts raised eyebrow and eyeroll, they were, in tabloid parlance, dunzo. West is now fully immersed in stalking his estranged wife Kim Kardashian while trolling “Skete,” his nickname for Pete Davidson, on social media.
All of this coincided with Fox’s exquisitely timed profile in The Cut, which featured her in a midriff-baring black latex ensemble, splayed out on a pile of last week’s dirty snow. The headline declared her both “her own muse” and, less deferentially, a “TMZ A-lister.” It turns out Fox had a modestly interesting career as a downtown art and fashion scene habitué before West. Did you know she was a dominatrix for a spell and has authored some art books? Per Reddit, one is a compilation of photos of her having sex. How Madonna! (Apparently, they’re lunch buddies!) The Cut even describes her minor role in Uncut Gems as a “well deserved promotion.” Still, the comments there, and everywhere else she’s been covered, have been far less generous.
“More Kardashian backwash,” read one.
“Take ur purse and go. There was no relationship. Just a low budget chick looking for a handout from a disabled man,” reads another.
Inveterate flamethrower Azalea Banks called Fox a “low rate escort with a crack baby.”
“It was too much,” moaned Charlamagne Tha God on “The Breakfast Club,” before mockingly launching into the refrain from Kodak Black’s, “We Could Have Been Superstars.” The Daily Mail declared that Fox had “outfoxed her own earning power” thanks to the short fling, but warned she’d need to “do something tangible this year” to keep the public’s interest.
Most recently, Fox has become the subject of mockery for her pronunciation of “Uncut Gems” on the Call Her Daddy podcast — more evidence, her detractors say, not necessarily of “vocal fry,” a well documented Millennial affect, but of Zsa Zsa Gabor levels of self-regard.
The problem appears to be that Julia Fox is too thirsty. And nobody gets more shit from the public than a woman trying too hard. That is the prevailing critique of Fox: She made too much hay of being the rebound, which everyone knows is short-lived and fated to become, well, last week’s dirty snow. But Fox flipped the script and ran with it. Remember when she called Interview magazine with juicy intel on their big date night at Carbone, which Ye capped off with a professional photo shoot (all the shots were conveniently ready for publication) and a new designer wardrobe? Instead of asking who does that? about Kanye—turning a meal into American Psycho levels of excess—we turned our gaze to Julia for having the audacity to participate and chronicle it.
She humble-brag gossed about the romance on her podcast, a big no-no when it comes to celebrity courtship. (“People are like ‘Oh, you’re only in it for the fame, you’re in it for the clout, you’re in it for the money,” she said. “Honey, I’ve dated billionaires my entire adult life, let’s keep it real.”) Then she coined the “Juliye” moniker, à la Bennifer and KimYe, a clear signal of her interest in becoming so-famous-you’re-shorthand-famous. And who can forget the cringey Paris Fashion Week twinning in matching leather and denim outfits. Julia Fox is too thirsty!
In fact, plenty of women get called thirsty (and men, too—I see you, Channing!), but notice for whom it has been used pejoratively. Kim’s thirsty money shots on Instagram, for example, are evidence of her commitment to her billion-dollar brand. She’s hot, she knows it, and your job, dear scroller, is to cosign with hearts and flames and exploding head emojis so that her posts flick the algorithm g-spot and end up at the top of your feed. All of which leads to more sales—undies, makeup, sympathy in the divorce. It doesn’t matter. What Mike Milken was to junk bonds, Kim Kardashian is to thirst trapping.
Julia Fox isn’t that kind of thirsty. She’s the hungry kind—for celebrity, fame, attention, and then, perhaps, bigger entertainment opportunities. Whereas before, she was known only to a cool subset of Lower East Side, today she’s a national story, a click-driver. Smart enough to know that’s currency, Fox has torn a page from the Kim K. “how to build an empire” handbook and run with it.
What Fox seems to underestimate is the public’s loathing for people who so plainly want t0 get ahead. Elizabeth Spiers unpacked it in her viral New York Times op-ed, “In Defense of Jeremy Strong (and All Strivers With No Chill)”. Recall that Strong, who plays the addled and shattered Kendall Roy on Succession, was the subject of a public roasting following a New Yorker profile that revealed him as, in effect, laughably self-serious about his acting. Spiers ascribes some of that backlash to classism. “There’s an unmistakably negative connotation to the word ‘careerist,’” she writes. “It is a dismissive insult often deployed against people who have the temerity to transcend their economic class.”
It’s also true, maybe even more so, of those who want to transcend their celebrity class — and it’s acutely damaging for women. Strong at least got the benefit of a hoity-toity New Yorker profile, condescending as it may have been. Fox gets nasty headlines that frame her as a grubby fame whore, riding the Balenciaga coattails of someone far more famous t0 snag an invitation to the Vanity Fair Oscar party. No matter that she mixed and mingled with the likes of Madonna and Drake before Ye. Fox committed the cardinal sin of letting the seams of her ambition show, betrayed by her comments in The Cut profile: “I never wanted to be super-megafamous. It’s a life-ender for some celebrities. They become reclusive and paranoid and hide. I refuse to not live authentically.” Not super-megafamous — just regular famous will do!
The scorn for Julia Fox whiffs of the Meghan Markle backlash — both are cautionary tales about what the public does to women who level up, who want to level up. The web is littered with salacious anecdotes of Markle telling anyone who would listen she wanted to marry rich — evidence, they say, of cunning or turpitude. No, the only permissible level jumping for women in the public eye is the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes kind. She was a ho-hum B-list actress when she paired off with the biggest actor in town. Whether contrived or not, the couple put up a reasonably effective show of affection. It met our unspoken guidelines for women foisted up to the highest celebrity altitudes: she smiled, looked pretty, dressed conservatively, talked very little and did as she was told. As for men hoisted up to such heights by a megafamous partner, one need only turn to Skete himself to see how we treat men who level up: We congratulate them for having Big Dick Energy.
Fox and Kanye seem to share the same distaste for the conventional, which is why it’s disappointing she even bothers to defend herself against allegations that the relationship was all a performance (allegations which, by the way, nobody has leveled against Kanye. “He fucking wanted me to!!!,” she replied in exasperation on an Instagram post calling her “desperate for attention” for talking so much about the relationship). So what if the relationship was an artful scam? So what if two consenting adults committed to faux date to advance their own agendas, leveraging a voracious press all too willing to bite? Were you not entertained?
Julia Fox is thirsty. That it rankles is not evidence of her venal intentions or starfuckery, of a lack of talent or depth, but of our unwillingness to allow women to climb whatever ladders they see fit, however they see fit, to get whatever the fuck they want. Her fifteen minutes aren’t up because she’s not ready to relinquish them. So what’s the problem? Fox wants you to know she doesn’t miss Kanye and doesn’t pine for him, again subverting the narrative Hollywood assigns to all the jilted C-list exes, expected to fade to black once their uber-celebrity flings end—the Ana de Armases, Stacy Kieblers, Bar Rafaelis, and Cassies. Julia Fox is thirsty and prefers to drink champagne.
“The media would love to paint a picture of me as a sad lonely woman crying on a plane by myself but it’s NOT TRUE!! ,” she posted on Instagram a few days after the breakup. “Why not see me for what I am which is a #1 hustler.”