After a 13-week-long leave of absence, Kim Kardashian West has returned to the internet.
The 36-year-old reality star broke her radio silence on Wednesday, sharing intimate images and video footage of her young family, sending a clear message to the world that she’s back.
But the question being asked by many is: why now?
Having walked away from social media, public appearances and life in the limelight more generally after being held at gunpoint and robbed of $14 million worth of jewellery in October, it could simply be that she feels emotionally rested enough to now return to work.
It could be that after years of adhering to a relentless work schedule, Kardashian West simply wanted to take her own version of annual leave as we all do.
But as someone who has strategically mapped out every step of her career, it’s hard to believe there’s not something more to the comeback — be it a new endorsement deal or modelling contract or app release.
Social Sciences Senior Lecturer at the University of Melbourne, Dr Lauren Rosewarne, agrees.
“She’s very much a social media generation celebrity, so it’s hard then to think there’s not some method to the madness in how she uses the tool [social media],” she tells Mamamia. (Post continues after gallery.)
“The timing of her return could be accidental, but it’s probably not given that her fortune hinges on how she uses that tool.”
In the immediate days that followed the Paris robbery, Kardashian West’s retreat from social media was understandable. She’d not only experienced something more terrifying than most of us could ever imagine, but was also being blamed for it.
But as the days and weeks rolled on, the silence became more pronounced, more deafening.
Milestones that we were sure would break the sabbatical (her birthday, her son’s first birthday, Christmas) came and went with not so much as a single Instagram post. And all from someone who, just months earlier, was known for posting up to a dozen Snapchat posts a day.
Listen: Mamamia Out Loud discusses the robbery. Post continues below.
“It can be strategic not to post. Going quiet for a while actually renews interest in you and creates a hunger so that when you do post, you’re getting a lot more attention,” Rosewarne says.
“You can apply the economics of supply and demand to this. She hasn’t been supplying for a good few months now, so a hunger and interest in her has been created that wasn’t there pre-Paris.
“People were still interested in her, but it wasn’t at the premium that it is now and going away has created a premium demand for the next instalment.”
What the next instalment is, however, still remains a mystery. Yet if her return content is anything to go by, it’s likely to be far more family focussed, with both photos and the two-and-a-half minute long video featuring her 39-year-old husband Kanye West, three-year-old daughter North and one-year-old son, Saint.
“There’s potentially a brand reinvention in the works,” Rosewarne says.
“You can’t do a brand reinvention if you’re constantly posting; you need time away from it to make it look legitimate and that would be my hunch as to what’s happening here now.”
And looking back, it wouldn’t be the first time Kardashian West has used social media to pivot her celebrity into a new iteration of herself. From Paris Hilton’s assistant to reality star to high-end fashion icon sitting front row at Paris Fashion Week, she’s long owned that game.
“Social media is fickle,” Roswarne concludes.
“And people get bored very, very easily, so if she is back, she’s going to have to do more than she has for the past few years.”
For now, only time will tell as to the star’s return. Either way, it’s good to have the social media superstar back.