Kim Kardashian's new shapewear line can't catch a break. After heavy criticism for naming the brand Kimono, Kardashian renamed it Skims, and has now started the press cycle around the launch. Kardashian enlisted Alice Marie Johnson to model her new Skims Solutionwear line, and mixed reactions were heard all over the internet. In the video ad, Johnson discusses the impact of being released from prison, and calls Kardashian her "war angel."

Naturally, many questioned whether Johnson's inclusion in the ad seemed incongruous, opportunistic, or in poor taste. Others lauded Kardashian for casting an older black woman in her ad campaign. Regardless of people's opinions, Johnson also spoke up about the backlash.

Who is Alice Marie Johnson?

Johnson is a former inmate who was serving a life sentence for money laundering and conspiracy convictions. Due to mandatory sentencing laws and bias against women of color in the criminal justice system, Johnson received an exceptionally harsh punishment for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense. Kardashian took an interest in her case, and was instrumental in lobbying President Trump to have her freed from prison.

In 2018, Trump commuted her life sentence. Johnson was released from prison on June 18, 2018, and is now 64 years old.

Johnson stars in a series of video ads featuring "real" people.

In the Vanessa Beecroft-directed video, Johnson models the Sculpting Bodysuit. She talks about how Kardashian advocated for her to be released from prison, saying, "She went to war for me, to fight for my freedom. That's why I call her my war angel, because nothing stood between her and my freedom."

Johnson pushed back at criticism of the Skims ad.

"You’re EXACTLY right. How insulting to assume I can’t think for myself. I was very honored to be a part of Kim’s shapewear launch. For the record @Vice, I’ve always referred to Kim as my war angel!!!" Johnson wrote on Twitter, replying to a Vice article that criticized Kardashian for the casting.

On social media, some people found Johnson's casting confusing at best and cynical at worst.

"It’s really wild to me that Kim Kardashian has Alice Johnson modeling shapewear. There’s so much to unpack here about capitalism, the white gaze, agency, etc," wrote Twitter user @ThatBKGurl. The criticism continued:

I’m so done with people using black trauma for profit https://t.co/HHHqfA3VOE

— Jamira Burley (@JamiraBurley) August 29, 2019

FTR, believing that this ad is a deeply cynical use of activism in an attempt to ultimately put more money into Kim Kardashian’s pocket neither denies Alice Johnson her agency nor negates the fact that Kim being instrumental to her release was a good deed https://t.co/PcSNH7IDae

— Ashley Reese (@offbeatorbit) August 29, 2019

Others applauded the decision as a step forward for diversity.

"Wait, so Kim hired Alice Johnson to model her shapewear line?!! I ain’t mad! Good for her! I hope she’s paying well," wrote Twitter user @sweetfacedinero. 

Cynicism always seems like a cheap way to devalue a good thing just because of who did it. Since no one has insight into another’s heart, it neither fair nor helpful. My question would be — Was it a good thing? If yes — Thank you. We live in a world where good needs to be lauded.

— C.E.L.L. — Coalition to End Lifetime Labels (@cellintl) August 31, 2019

This seems to be a fantastic product, thank you Kim for including some of us seasoned women, we can use this as well as the younger ladies. Blessings to you and Alice always~

— Kat E Lloyd (@KatELlo86178466) August 30, 2019

This isn't the first crisis for Kardashian's shapewear line.

Kardashian first announced her shapewear line Kimono in June 2019. The name immediately drew backlash for its appropriation of a sacred traditional Japanese garment. She later agreed to change the name, telling the Wall Street Journal , "I’m the first person to say, OK, of course, I can’t believe we didn’t think of this. I obviously had really innocent intentions. But, let’s listen. And I want to really listen. And I want to really take it all in."

In August 2019, Kardashian announced that the brand would be called Skims.

Regardless of where people fall on the opinion spectrum, one thing is for sure: Skims is bound to make a lot of money.

Kardashian's Skims Solutionwear line debuts on September 10. Those interested in purchasing products can get on the wait list now at the Skims website. According to the brand's Instagram, the shapewear will range in sizes from XXS–5XL. Cynicism aside, it's nice to see another brand making their products available in a wider range of sizes.