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Kris Jenner’s Wax Figure Begs the Question: What Is Reality?

The Kardashians have taken us on yet another dip into the uncanny valley.


Courtesy of @kimkardashian

Of all of this year’s dips into the uncanny valley—see: Cats, the Miley Cyrus blue eyes meme, the Kardashians’ face masksKris Jenner‘s truly disturbing wax figure takes the cake. On Wednesday night, during a dinner with Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, and Kim Kardashian, Jenner revealed that she has acquired the life-size version of herself created by the Hollywood Wax Museum, which was recently on view at Madame Tussaud’s in New York.

Historically, celebrity wax figures have seemed all but doomed to be cursed, if not outright deformed, but Jenner’s is a rare exception. It’s worth noting that one of the other rare exceptions is a likeness of her youngest daughter, Kylie Jenner, whose wax figure was believable enough to fool her family via FaceTime. The family’s preference to represent themselves as airbrushed, contoured perfection not only makes the job that much easier for creators of wax figures, but has even influenced society at large. The New Yorker‘s Jia Tolentino recently did a deep dive into how the phenomenon, which she summed up as “the gradual emergence, among professionally beautiful women, of a single, cyborgian face.” (Her description of that face essentially doubles as a descriptions of the Kardashians’: “It’s a young face, of course, with poreless skin and plump, high cheekbones. It has catlike eyes and long, cartoonish lashes; it has a small, neat nose and full, lush lips. It looks at you coyly but blankly, as if its owner has taken half a Klonopin and is considering asking you for a private-jet ride to Coachella.”)

And yet, the degree to which Jenner’s wax figure resembles her real-life mother still managed to send Kardashian into shock. “I literally knew I was coming up here and I still got startled seeing this. You guys have no idea how real this looks. It’s insane,” she said in an Instagram Story, going on to stroke the figure’s cheek and run her fingers through its hair. “It’s exact—down to the little mark she has. This is her exact hairline. I can’t even tell you how creepy and amazing this is.” Her reaction couldn’t have made Kris more pleased: “It’s so you can visit with me and not have to listen to me talk to you,” the 64-year-old matriarch can be heard saying in her own Instagram Story, cackling with glee.

It’s no wonder that Kris and Kim are amused; an appreciation for riffing on their likenesses runs in the family, from the core Kardashians’ participation in Kris’s idea of a “team-building activity“—dressing up and acting like each other to spice up a normal night of dinner—to Kim’s move to dress up as herself for Halloween. Their openness about the price point suggests there’s a degree of self-awareness, too; for a multimillionaire who’s wont to wear $8,000 worth of Chanel and Versace to Thanksgiving dinner with the family, there isn’t exactly harm in sharing that you’ve relegated a pricy Dolce & Gabbana fit to an inanimate object.

A wax figure of Kris Jenner.

Courtesy of @kimkardashian

A wax figure of Kris Jenner.

Courtesy of @kimkardashian

But is the wax figure inanimate? That’s up for debate. Arguably, it’s one of the only true #nofilter, up-close and personal glimpses we’ve ever gotten of a Kardashian-Jenner, even though the family has built several empires out of broadcasting every single moment of their personal lives, from countless occasions of hanging out in the kitchen eating salad to open discussions about matters that merit at least some degree of privacy. (Like not one, but two instances of Tristan Thompson’s infidelity—the latter of which salaciously involved Kylie’s then 21-year-old best friend.) In the rare instance that they did keep things private—covering up Kylie’s pregnancy—Kylie eventually posted an 11-minute video recapping the updates she’d deprived the public of for months, almost as if it were an apology.

Of course, there are also extreme calculations behind everything the Kardashian-Jenners willingly share. Every single scene of Keeping Up With the Kardashians is apparently edited and approved by Kim—and no doubt engineered by Kris in the first place. It’s almost too fitting, then, that the most human glimpse Kris has offered of herself is that of a literal humanoid. In actuality, the real-life versions of Kris that she approves to share with her 30 million Instagram followers looks much more like Sophia the Robot than the Hollywood Wax Museum’s effigy. For comparison, here’s one of the most recent photos Kris posted of herself:

The hazy, airbrushed quality persists even when Jenner shares clips of herself in motion, almost as if she starred in The Irishman.

All of which brings us back to the uncanny valley—the concept that the more a robotic humanoid or computer-generated human replica is designed to appear realistic, the more its decidedly not human features become apparent, leading to a feeling of unease, if not disgust. But just as advances in CGI technology have made the topic more relevant than ever—first floated by the robotics professor Masahiro Mori in 1970—the Kardashian-Jenners have managed to flip it on its head. The concept that replicas can be more realistic than the real deal is a new one—and one that Kris will undoubtedly soon trademark.

Related: A Definitive Ranking of All of the Kardashians’ Art Collections

The Most Cursed Celebrity Wax Figures of All Time, From Ariana Grande to Lindsay Lohan

Beyonce Knowles is displayed at the countdown to the grand opening of the first ever Madame Tussauds in the world to be built from the ground up on July 10, 2008 in Hollywood, California. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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Kate Moss waxwork is unveiled to celebrate the start of London Fashion Week at Madame Tussauds on September 15, 2009 in London, England. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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Lindsay Lohan wax figure debuts at Madame Tussauds on April 12, 2006 in New York City. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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Wax figures of Kylie Minogue as an angel and David and Victoria Beckham as Joseph and Mary are on display in a new Nativity Scene at Madame Tussauds for the Christmas period on December 8, 2004 in London. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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Miley Cyrus waxwork is unveiled at the Museo de Cera on November 4, 2010 in Madrid, Spain. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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Britney Spears wax figure at Madame Tussaud’s at The Venetian in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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Paris Hilton wax figure during The Cast of “House of Wax” reveals the Paris Hilton Wax Figure at Madame Tussauds in New York City, New York, United States. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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Michelle Obama and Barack Obama wax figures in the setting of The Oval Office at Madame Tussauds on January 19, 2010 in London, England. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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Wax figures of Nick Jonas, Joe Jonas and Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers are displayed at Madame Tussauds Hollywood on September 30, 2009 in Hollywood, California. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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Robert Pattinson’s wax figure is unveiled at Madame Tussauds on April 22, 2011 in Washington, DC. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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Madonna waxwork during Music Legends at Madame Tussauds on October 20, 2005 at Madame Tussauds in London, Great Britain. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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Justin Bieber wax figure unveiling at Madame Tussauds Hollywood on the singer’s 18th Birthday on March 1, 2012 in Hollywood, California. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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Selena Gomez wax figure at Madame Tussauds on November 17, 2011 in New York City. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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Katy Perry unveils her wax figure for Madame Tussauds’ Las Vegas at Paramont Studios on January 26, 2013 in Hollywood, California. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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Naomi Campbell wax figure at the Musee Grevin in Paris, France. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in film Tomb Raider in Los Angeles, LA, California. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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Kendall Jenner visits her new waxwork at the Madame Tussauds London Fashion Week Experience at Madame Tussauds on February 23, 2016 in London, England. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, and Harry Styles of One Direction are displayed at Madame Tussauds July 8, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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Calvin Harris and Taylor Swift, dressed in traditional Bavarian clothing, are displayed at Hofbraeuhaus Berlin on September 14, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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Ariana Grande wax figure with mistletoe in hand on November 29, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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