There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and the Kardashians’ burning desire for attention.
But unlike the rest of the Kardashian Klan, the only boy buried amid a sea of estrogen, Rob Kardashian has, with the exception of a nervously confident 2011 stint on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, largely shunned the media spotlight. The 28-year-old has been noticeably absent lately from the family’s lucrative E! reality series Keeping Up with the Kardashians, as well as the flock of cameras covering stepmother Caitlyn Jenner’s highly publicized transition to womanhood, opting for a more subtle display of support, tweeting the following after her Diane Sawyer interview:
It’s not just the Caitlyn Jenner hullabaloo that Rob has divorced himself from, but virtually all of the family’s spotlighted ventures. And it is no secret that Rob, who was just 4 when his mother, Kris, married Bruce Jenner, has been struggling with his weight and depression. And since he’s been absent from the cameras, the paparazzi has taken it upon themselves to stalk him relentlessly as he goes about living his life. Even a photo of Rob behind the wheel of his car made news when it was captured by a particularly mercenary paparazzo on June 4.
On Thursday night, photos emerged of Kardashian out in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles. He was reportedly making a trip to burger chain In-N-Out. Twitter, as is its wont, erupted with mean-spirited scrutiny:
There is, it seems, some serious drama brewing between Rob and his family. On March 22, Rob posted (and later deleted) a photo to his Instagram account from the movie Gone Girl featuring Rosamund Pike in a blood-spattered négligée with the caption: “This is my sister kim, the bitch from Gone Girl…” No explanation was given for the critical comparison.“I just feel, especially over the last year, Rob has become very introverted and has a kind of social anxiety,” big sis Khloe Kardashian told Wonderwall recently. “He’s definitely not at his happiest place that he once was, and I know he can get to that happy place and he will.”
Last May, Rob bowed out of attending Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s lavish wedding in Florence following what TMZ reported was “major family drama.”
“Rob said he was sickened by Kim and Kanye’s display of wealth and clothes and beauty and called it ‘superficial bulls--t,’” reported the New York Daily News. “Kim was pissed that Rob hadn’t made an effort to drop any weight over the past few months…Rob basically thinks Kim cares about him only for his appearance and he said he’d ‘make life easier’ for her and just leave.”Yes, this recent Twitter paroxysm hasn’t been the only bout of body-shaming that Rob has endured over the past year-plus. The tabloid media, blogosphere, and Twitter have all treated him like a sideshow act, cataloguing his every move obsessively in order to feed their awful thirst for schadenfreude. In May, he took on his legion of “haters” in a series of tweets that have since been deleted, writing, “I’m aware that I’m fat that def aint a surprise to me lol and my only therapy will be in the gym anyways had to say somethingggggggggg.”
Just the other week, the gossip site Radar ran a story claiming that Rob was “crushed” by Kris’s behavior—namely, that she attended the birthday party daughter Kim threw for her hubby, for which Kim rented out the Staples Center for a private basketball game. Kris later posted a gushing image to Instagram of West, referring to him as “my son Kanye.”
This would all be fine if Kris hadn’t allegedly skipped out on Rob’s birthday in March in favor of a Mexican getaway with her friends. “The fact that Kris was at Kanye’s birthday party says it all,” an insider told Radar. “She was also super involved in planning the party with Kim. But for her own son Rob’s birthday, she ditched him to go on vacation with her friends! Rob thinks it is just disgusting and tactless and he was crushed by that.”
On a recent episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians—which, it seems, is filmed almost entirely from the perspective of momager Kris—the Kardashian matriarch spoke to a specialist with daughters Kim and Kourtney about Rob’s problems. The scene’s inclusion was particularly odd given that Rob wasn’t present, and given his apparent desire remain out of the spotlight and not be reduced to a KUWTK plotline.
“If I don’t help him do something drastic, he’s going to die,” Kris told Kim and Kourtney. “I’m just waiting for this horrible thing to happen and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Rob has remained silent, and he has not responded to requests for comment from The Daily Beast. But rumors have been swirling of late that he’s considering another bow on the reality competition series Dancing with the Stars to help him combat his weight gain. Either way, it’s time for everyone to let the young man battle whatever demons he’s facing in private, away from the prying lenses of the paparazzi and the reality show cameras.
“I think he’s just going through a phase where he’s not comfortable in his own skin,” Kim has said of her brother. “And he is working really hard to get back to where he wants to be.”