In June 2018, President Trump commuted the sentence of then 63-year-old Alice Johnson, who served 21 years of a life sentence without the possibility of parole for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense. This was done at the behest of celebrity Kim Kardashian, who was moved after reading an article about Johnson’s plight back in 2017. Now, a year after her release from prison, Johnson is modeling for Kardashian’s “inclusive” forthcoming shapewear brand, SKIMS.
In the SKIMS ad, Johnson talks about how Kardashian became involved with her case, and admits that at first she “didn’t even know who Kim Kardashian was!”
“[Kim Kardashian] went to war for me to fight for my freedom,” Johnson continues. “That’s why I call her my ‘war angel,’ because nothing stood between her and my freedom.”
Johnson then describes how empowered the SKIMS Sculpting Bodysuit makes her feel: “I was set free on June the 6th 2018. So now every moment in life is precious to me. This shapewear makes me feel that I can walk into the store, I can pick up something that I normally wouldn’t think about wearing and I can put it on, and it’s going to look great on me.”
Johnson deserves to spend the rest of her days of freedom doing whatever she pleases. Still, something about this campaign feels inexplicably bleak. This isn’t to negate Johnson’s agency, nor Kardashian’s sincere interest in criminal justice reform, but the concept of using a personal testimony about the injustices of the criminal justice system as a way to advertise a branded capital venture is dispiriting, regardless of whatever sincerity was intended.
Let’s just hope Kardashian paid Johnson mightily for her participation in this ad campaign.