What's Newly Blond Kim Kardashian So Afraid of?

Dear world, Kim Kardashian is now blonde. This wouldn't be headlining all over the internet if 1) she weren't incredibly famous by now and 2) she hadn't spent the last 2.5 months in near-total silence after giving birth to the second most famous baby in the world. (Gotta give little Prince George the #1 slot.)

To some, this might look like just another celebrity hair-color change. But having watched Kim react to a watching world both pre-, post-, and during pregnancy makes me think that this is something sadder: a woman, still scarred by the public's vicious rejection, who is desperate to make us think she's sexy again.

For such a camera-happy celebrity, Kim's post-pregnancy behavior can't help but seem a little eccentric. No big People magazine cover reveal? No casual sightings for months? A picture or two of her face, but no flashes of her famous body? I don't think Kim Kardashian is playing coy. I think she very well may be terrified of what she's become.

Although the Kardashian family is fame-hungry and generally irritating, I've always had a soft spot for Kim. She's a hard worker, she seems to genuinely care about her family, and she's incredibly skilled at branding herself and angling that branding into massive profits. She and her mother, Kris Jenner, know better than anyone that Kim's face, hair, and general physique are their meal ticket, and in the past, they've spared no expense to keep that meal ticket looking good: vampire facials, cellulite removal, and incessant workouts. There's nothing casual or low-maintainance about inhabiting the body of the famed Kim Kardashian.

Kim has always been open on her show about wanting love, and a handful of marriages and famous boyfriends corroborate her story. Who knows if she was planning to have a child anytime soon, but she started dating Kanye West, and suddenly she wasn't just a celebrity, but something much more tenuous and exposed: a pregnant celebrity. Within months, she'd gained a lot of weight. Though her weight gain wasn't abnormal, her new, larger body was viciously attacked by the media and internet trolls everywhere. I remember seeing a photo of a very pregnant Kim wearing a black and white dress pasted next to a photo of Shamu, the killer whale. When we remember that she had a baby around the same time as the ever-slim Kate Middleton, it's a miracle she didn't have a public breakdown.

Post-baby, Kim remained in seclusion for months, but posted numerous pictures of her pre-baby bikini body on Instagram. She skipped her little sister's 16th birthday party and only appeared from the neck up on her mom's show. She's seemed preoccupied with getting her old body back: Rumor has it she's trying a bizarre form of weight loss called a hypnoband, and she's openly dreamed of doing another nude photoshoot.

And now she's blonde. It's not a natural-looking haircolor for her — she looks much dreamier in dark brown. But think about what blonde symbolizes. Blonde is the color of Barbie, of Marilyn Monroe, of classic pin-ups. Blonde is stereotypically hot. It's the hair color that lets you have more fun. It's a color you wear when you want everyone to think you're happy. It's the de facto dye of sex symbols. With her Playboy photoshoot talk and her new hair, Kim wants her old, sexy throne back — despite the fact that she's not, and will never be, the person she once was.

Celebrity culture is composed of a weird give-and-take between celebrities and the hordes who watch them; one couldn't survive without the other. We created Kim Kardashian by letting her create herself. We made an idol of her luscious curves, and then we publicly humiliated her pregnant body. She knows that her first big post-pregnancy reveal will be seen and judged by billions. And it seems like Kim Kardashian can't decide whether she wants to blow our minds — or never face us again.