In July of 2018, Forbes magazine released their “America’s Women Billionaires” issue with Kylie Jenner on the cover, dubbing her as the soon to be “Youngest-ever Self-made Billionaire”. A lot of people were angered because of Forbes’ claim that Kylie Jenner is “self-made”. This has also caused major backlash on social media primarily due to the fact that Jenner comes from a well-known and affluent family with immense privilege, making it somehow unreasonable for her to be regarded as self-made. However, Jenner is in fact self-made regardless of her family or background, and it is unreasonable to disregard Jenner’s self-made empire.
Although in today’s world it is hard to wake up and not hear something about Kylie Jenner, I will provide the 411. Jenner is the youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner American dynasty; the youngest sister of Kim Kardashian. She is self-employed, bringing in money from brand sponsorship deals on social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, as well as designing a clothing brand with her sister Kendall Jenner (Robehmed, 2018). Jenner also receives lucrative checks for her appearances on her family’s reality TV show “Keeping up with the Kardashians” (Robehmed, 2018). Last but most definitely not least, Jenner is the founder and sole owner of her very successful makeup brand “Kylie Cosmetics” which is estimated to be worth around $800 million (Robehmed, 2018). At the ripe age of 21, she is set to become the “Youngest-ever Self-made Billionaire”, taking the title from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (Robehmed, 2018).
As stated in the previous paragraph, Jenner is clearly a rich girl who became even wealthier and that is where the frustration comes in. The public outcry following Jenner’s Forbes cover comes from an understandable place, which is the inability to fathom why a girl who comes from an already rich family with all the means to become successful at her disposal is being labeled as self-made. Even Dictionary.com (2018) decided to take a jab at the Forbes cover by retweeting it along with their definition of self-made which is “having succeeded in life unaided”. Forbes, however, responded by clarifying that their definition of self-made is simply not having inherited money or a business, accompanied by a scale measuring the means available with which one has built a fortune to measure how self-made they are (Dolan, 2018). Clearly, we see a very important discourse happening regarding the definition of self-made and whether Jenner deserves that label.
The definition of self-made provided by Dictionary.com is completely unrealistic because no one who has reached success in life was unaided. The people outraged by the Forbes cover have turned the self-made label into the struggle Olympics; if you come from the gutter, then you deserve to be labeled as self-made. However, being self-made does not have to mean one was provided no money or means. Aid can come in the simplest form of someone believing in you or giving you valuable advice. Therefore, no one is self-made unless they were a homeless orphan and did not experience any human connection whatsoever and somehow became rich enough to be acknowledged by Forbes. Indeed, there are different levels of self-made, but it is completely foolish to disregard the empire Jenner has built by herself just because she is privileged. Jenner also started her cosmetics brand entirely from her own money that she accumulated from brand sponsorships and the TV show (Robehmed, 2018). Being self-made and privileged are not mutually exclusive, it’s more about how one can take the privilege and means available to them and use it to make themselves successful.
Kylie Jenner’s success comes from beyond her rich family because her family did not create “Kylie Jenner” the pop culture phenomenon whom we cannot get enough of and cannot stop giving our money to. Kim Kardashian did not force us to pay attention to her little sister, care about her every move (and body modification) or tell us to buy her products. Instead, Jenner herself somehow morphed herself into one of the most prominent figures in our culture whom we cannot stop paying attention to. She figured out the best way to grow and utilize her massive social following and turn it into monetary gain. Furthermore, so many people have come from wealth and fame and tried to start and maintain successful businesses but failed. A perfect example of such is Jenner’s own half-brother Robert Kardashian. He started his own sock line, with the same means available as Jenner, but gained nowhere near as much success as Jenner’s business endeavors (Barbour, 2018). Jenner’s feature in Forbes is not only fascinating but important to read and acknowledge as it really shows us the entrepreneurial spirit of Jenner and her drive to build her own empire.
By no means am I disregarding the fact that Jenner indeed had lots of opportunities and that gave her a head start to make a billion dollars, but this is the world we live in. Some are given more opportunities than others, but everyone has a chance to make something big out of what is given to them. How they go about in doing so is what in the end makes them self-made. Jenner’s Forbes cover may have felt like a slap in the face because Jenner is almost a billionaire at 21 while everyone else in the same age group may feel helpless since they don’t have their lives figured out yet. However, people also need to ask themselves if they are angry with the cover because they are envious of Jenner’s successor because they genuinely think that she is no way self-made. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.
Barbour, S. (2018, November 15). Rob Kardashian was forced to sell his failing sock line to momager Kris Jenner. Cosmopolitan. Retrieved fromhttps://www.cosmopolitan.com/entertainment/a25105076/kris-jenner-rob-kardashians-sock-line/
Dictionarycom. (2018, July 11). Self-made means having succeeded in life unaided. Used in a sentence: Forbes says that Kylie Jenner is a self-made woman. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/self-made … [Tweet]. Retrieved fromhttps://twitter.com/Dictionarycom/status/1017035779623841793?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1017035779623841793&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fmashable.com%2Farticle%2Fkylie-jenner-dictionary-self-made%2F
Dolan,K. A. (2018, July 13). Here’s what Forbes means by self-made: from bootstrappers to silver spooners. Forbes.Retrieved fromhttps://www.forbes.com/sites/kerryadolan/2018/07/13/heres-what-forbes-means-by-self-made-from-bootstrappers-to-silver-spooners/#192651511ca3
Robehmed,N. (2018, July 13). How 20-Year-Old Kylie Jenner built a $900 million fortune in less than 3 years. Forbes. Retrievedfrom https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesdigitalcovers/2018/07/11/how-20-year-old-kylie-jenner-built-a-900-million-fortune-in-less-than-3-years/#1046280daa62