Earlier this week, renowned publication Forbes published a story focussed on ‘America’s Women Billionaires.’ The magazine made the soon controversial choice to feature Kylie Jenner as its cover woman. In the lengthy article, the publication labelled the Kardashian sister as “the youngest ever self-made billionaire.” In an age of ubiquitous celebrity scrutiny, comments about the seemingly questionable title soon flooded social media channels.
According to Forbes’s estimated appraisal of Jenner’s booming cosmetic empire, the company, along with Jenner’s own endorsements and sponsorships, has garnered her a net worth of $900 million, soon to hit a $1 billion. Needless to say, this inspired an online attack of Jenner, condemning the use of the phrase ‘self-made,’ stressing Jenner’s ever-present privilege and social leverage as one part of the world’s most famous family.
Indeed, the Kardashian’s many entrepreneurial endeavours have seemed to stem from older sister, Kim Kardashian’s, cultural status. But does that mean, we, as a generation of pervasive online nit-pickers, should undermine the value of Jenner’s financial savvy? Despite her business being predicated by her family name, Kylie Jenner is a new-age economic phenomenon. Jenner is the poster child of a brand of 21st Century, modern-day, internet-powered celebrity. The pouting young mother has leveraged the adoration of her millions of social media followers to create a cosmetic empire with unrivalled success.
“It’s naïve, and lazy, to think a white woman born into fame and the upper classes — a woman with a famous last name, brand cache, a seemingly infinite amount of investment capital to play with, safety nets, and access to a tapestry of resources — is a model for the “self-made” success story that, to many, represents the American Dream,” wrote Emerald Pellot in Cosmopolitan. Amidst the vicious backlash, one might ask, is privilege not, at some point, part of every billionaire’s back story? As always, the Kardashian’s have taken the criticism in their stride, strutting on, preened heads held high, in a pair of outrageously-priced designer heels.