Why I (Now) Pledge Allegiance to Kim Kardashian

Was Kim Kardashian always this dope?

Since Kim’s start from the proverbial bottom, I haven’t been a screaming, paint-my-face kinda fan of hers. Sure, I’ve been “keeping up” with the K-clan (more for the train wreck than anything else), and my inner celebrity junkie keeps me glued to the rise and fall of her relationship status, which always seems to tip-toe on “complicated,” but for a long time, I remained unimpressed at her blatant attention-whoring.

Until recently, Kim seemed hollow, a shell of a person who’s more concerned with herself, material bounty and staying camera-ready than, well, other more important things. At times, even her own family charted low on her priority scale. But nowadays, there’s been a tug at my heart for the 32-year-old soon-to-be mommy. Since she started gaining weight in fat pockets other than her derriere, she’s becoming, dare i say, incredibly strong-willed, especially against husband (yes, they’re still legally married) Kris Humphries’ divorce crusade and ex-boyfriend Ray J’s musical antics. Before, a media storm churning around any anti-Kim incidents would send Kris Jenner’s cash cow into a whiny made-for-TV tailspin, but Mrs. (almost) West is now handling things with womanly grace. Maybe it’s Baby Easton sprinkling unshakable joy in her veins or perhaps the good lovin’ of boyfriend and baby daddy Kanye West that’s taken Kimmie Cakes for a refreshingly psychedelic head trip, but either way, she seems “new” — more honest than her man’s best friend’s wife (about pregnancy, at least), less self-absorbed and exceptionally resilient. (Sidebar: At one point, I was not here for this.)

While critics are feasting on her maternal style and weight gain, she’s brazenly, and at times jokingly, faced the dark side of the celebrity world as gossip rags drag her extra pounds across newsstands. Driving home my new “Likes” for the middle K-Dash sis was her interview with Cosmo. Right around the part where she says, “I’ve always been about the image. I cared so much about what the media was thinking. But now, I just don’t care as much,” I officially became a fan. A more guarded, more private, more grown-up Kim? Yes, please. Give the youngins something to aspire to besides a 44-inch booty and a seat in V.I.P. next to [insert rapper or athlete here].

But I guess motherhood, a real threat to your offspring and a ridiculous court circus can do that to a person. Basking in the spotlight and oft-negative comments isn’t for the soft- and thin-skinned–no matter the amount of moisturizer–and Kim has risen to the challenges: appearing in court (sheriffs included), walking every important red carpet looking like a momshell, refraining from swatting at a bratty ex, all while preparing for a summer visit from the stork. Impressive.

So like many–because she’s owned this ballsy, confident version of herself–I’m now fascinated and completely tuned in to this freshly humble chapter (er, episode?) of her life: Kim & Kanye (and Baby!) Take The World.