“Thank you to Lamar for giving me some of the best years of my life and for everything you taught me about being strong,” Khloé Kardashian writes about Lamar Odom in the acknowledgments of her new book, Strong Looks Better Naked. “Before I met you I felt invisible, and after I felt seen.”
Kardashian wrote the book, which was released Tuesday, before Odom, her husband whom she filed divorce papers against and later withdrew, made national headlines after being found near death after an overdose of cocaine and herbal Viagra at a Nevada brothel last month.
Two years prior to the tragic accident, Kardashian had filed divorce papers against Odom, whom she wed in 2009, but because of an administrative holdup the reality-TV star was still legally married to the former NBA player when he was rushed to the hospital in Las Vegas.
That meant that, during a harrowing few days of bleak prognosis for Odom, Kardashian was in charge of all medical decisions. As Odom’s health has improved, Kardashian officially withdrew her divorce papers—even though she had been dating Houston Rockets basketball player James Harden.
In a rare interview with Yahoo Style!, Kardashian only briefly addresses the awkward situation.
“I’ve learned from experience you just never know what happens in life,” she said. “I’ve chosen to keep things closer to my heart until I figure it out. I love hard, I love who I love, and I don’t make any qualms about it. And I can’t wait for that to happen.”
Factor in all the tabloid reports that have stalked Kardashian and Odom throughout their fast-and-bright burning romance—they married (in a televised ceremony) just one month after they began dating, and rumors of everything from drug use to cheating to stalking have made gossip rag headlines—and you have the trappings of a dramatic relationship that not even the most inventive soap operas could dream up.
Suffice it to say, there is intense interest in what Kardashian has to say about Odom in her new book.
Strong Looks Better Naked is a self-help book by way of personal essays. It is a triumph in the art of large-type celebrity literature, boasting formidable card stock, ambitious line spacing, and remarkable creativity when it comes to featuring things besides the celebrity’s own writing.
The guide to transforming one’s body, mind, and heart by using the physical and spiritual tactics Kardashian herself employed to shed, as Amy Schumer puts it, “a Kendall” worth of weight and find happiness pads itself mightily.
An itemized look at what Kardashian eats in a day is included, and will make you weep. (Glasses of water are enthusiastically listed, as if a treat.) There are a dozen or so healthy recipes, including—I kid you not—a cocktail recipe that is just a vodka soda. There are full-page quotes by the likes of Amelia Earhart, Colin Powell, and Confucius—just as you expected in a Khloé Kardashian book—and glossy photos of her body transformation.
There are anecdotes about why she got into fitness, how she overcame her own demons in order to embrace becoming her better self, and a fair amount of candor about the pressures of her family life and the media spotlight. And there are tidbits about Lamar Odom.
Odom is actually mentioned in page one of the book. (It’s as if the book was retooled to give us the good stuff first, though it was surely in the can by the time Odom’s health made news.)
Kardashian is recounting how she got into fitness in the first place. She had moved to Dallas with Odom when he began playing for the Mavericks, and she was just plain bored there. But she emphasizes the strength of their connection.
“We were very happy,” she writes. “I mean, Lamar and I had such a strong connection that we were married exactly thirty days after we met. We loved the idea of being husband and wife, and most of the marriage was really great.”
This was 2011. Despite being “very happy,” Kardashian writes that she was lonely in the apartment. She talks about a particularly depressing holiday season, missing her family. She was motivated to get out of the house, and turned to exercise—though it didn’t cure her homesickness, which was putting a stress on her marriage.
“Lamar kept apologizing, but I told him not to worry, that we were a family now, and that everything was going to work out,” she writes.
“Lamar missed them, too, though. When we were first married, my family welcomed him with open arms, and he never stopped expressing his gratitude. ‘Your family was one of the reasons I knew I wanted to marry you,’ he told me. ‘I love your family.’ Lamar is an only child, and his mother passed away when he was very young. Being so warmly embraced by us meant the world to him, and being away was hard for us both.”
The one thing that was better for them in Dallas was the lack of paparazzi. When they returned to Los Angeles, they were out in full force, adding more pressure to their relationship. “We couldn’t get away from them, and it was oppressive,” she writes. “Even worse, if we were not smiling in a photograph they took, it fueled all sorts of rumors.”
Escaping the negative rumors was impossible.
“It was crazy,” she writes. “We were happy, and the press had no evidence to the contrary, but reporters were telling the world that our marriage was in trouble. Of course, a month later, the story they were telling had changed. With no evidence to support this either, the press began reporting that I was pregnant and we were more in love than ever.”
She began going to the gym, exhausted from the scrutiny. The gym was an oasis from paparazzi who would ask about Lamar cheating or doing drugs. “I had heard all the rumors of course—they were on TV, on social media, and in the magazines—but the endless yelling was really unpleasant: I didn’t need to hear that negative bullshit. Every day felt like an attack.”
She candidly talks about the dissolution of the relationship, leading her to file for divorce, but she does it with infuriating vagueness. “As things got worse on the home front…” she writes at one point, not elaborating on what, exactly, was getting worse.
Her family started grilling her because they were starting to believe the tabloids’ reports. When she told them things were going badly they were hurt. “‘I wanted to protect Lamar,’ I said. ‘I know how badly he wanted and needed this family. I didn’t want people to judge him or blame him. And I didn’t want him to feel like I was giving up on him.’”
She took time off from Keeping Up With the Kardashians for the first time in eight years. They began seeing a couple’s therapist.
In a subchapter titled “How Do You Fix a Broken Heart?” she talks about life after she and Odom split. “This might sound like a cliché, but when I fell for Lamar, I remember feeling truly complete. And with Lamar gone, I felt I was losing a part of myself,” she writes. To stave off the temptation to retreat into hibernation, she turned to exercise again.
“Still, I’d be lying to you if I said it was a total cure,” she writes. “You don’t just fix a broken heart. You need time. And it hurt, because I loved being married. I loved having a family. I loved waking up in the morning and having purpose. I loved Lamar’s kids, too, and I tried to be a good stepmother to them.”
Specific stories about what happened between her and Odom are few and far between, doing nothing to clarify the range of reports that have been splashed across websites about what caused the end of their relationship.
She only tells one story about a specific fight, referencing a time Odom didn’t show up for a couples therapy session.
“I kept thinking, ‘He must not be very invested in saving our marriage if he can’t even show up for couples therapy!’” she writes “I did the session without him, and when I left, I was so upset that I decided to work out my feelings at the gym.”
The gym was closed and she started crying. “Later, when I finally reached Lamar, I asked him why he didn’t show up. And you know what he said? ‘It’s too hard.’ It’s too hard! ‘It’s hard for me, too!’ I said.”
Strong Looks Better Naked closes with Kardashian pontificating on her future.
“When I think about the future, I definitely see myself married, and with plenty of kids running around,” she writes.
“That’s who I am and what I want and I know it will come about. When your marriage fails, it’s a lousy feeling, but this doesn’t mean you’re a failure. The marriage failed, period. Dust yourself off and learn from it and move on. It was especially hard for me because I never believe in divorce, and I still don’t. When people marry, they should believe in their hearts that it’s going to last forever. To believe less is to try less, and this is not a good way to start.”
In the wake of Odom’s hospitalization and the intense spotlight on her and her family surrounding the understandably personal and traumatic time, Kardashian canceled most of her book tour for Strong Looks Better Naked. She did, however, honor a commitment with People magazine for a cover shoot and did a follow-up interview briefly acknowledging Odom’s situation.
She was asked about calling off the divorce that had been pending between the couple, and said that it doesn’t mean that she plans to get back together with Odom and hinted that the decision was to make it easier to make medical decisions on Odom’s behalf. "There are too many other important things, too many medical things,” she said. “It's not even in our brains thinking about us as a couple or having a relationship right now."
“I loved him always, and I will always love him,” she went on. “I don’t believe love is fickle. I believe when you love someone, you are allowed to love from afar. You don’t have to be with that person in order to love him.”
Naturally, the People cover telegraphed its exclusive interview loudly, touting “Khloé Kardashian Breaks Her Silence.” Twitter users began to attack Kardashian for what they perceived as capitalizing on Odom’s tragedy and suffering for publicity and professional gain, which she denied vehemently in a series of her own tweets.
“Shame on you all for thinking the worst of me,” she tweeted. “It’s been a tough few weeks. I don’t need your fucked up energy!” Then she went on a crusade to clarify. “Know the facts before you throw stones,” she tweeted.
“I want to make this VERY clear…My People cover, I shot and interviewed for PRIOR to all the events that happened. It was contracted press for my book that I wrote months and months ago. Timing is what it is. I had to do a follow up 5 minute phoner after the events only because I was contracted to. I cancelled my book tour to avoid this attention.”
The timing is, as she is, what it is. Strong Looks Better Naked has arrived. For better or worse, and certainly amidst unfortunate circumstances, our interest is piqued and we’re paying close attention.