So far, one of the most passionately debated topics of 2019 has revolved around whether or not Kylie Jenner can be accurately described as a ‘self-made’ billionaire.
In early March, Forbes declared Kylie, 21, to be ‘the youngest self-made billionaire ever’.
Of course, having grown up within an exceptionally wealthy and famous family led to a few rolled eyes at the term ‘self-made’. Kylie hasn’t after all exactly had to drag herself out of poverty by the straps of her combat boots.
However – despite what Dictionary.com may say – Kylie’s ‘self-made’ status does fit within the scoring system outlined by Forbes, which ranks the dizzyingly well-heeled on a scale of one to ten in terms of how self-made they are:
Based on that scale, someone who inherited everything scores a 1, while someone who not only grew up poor but also experienced substantial hardships – like Oprah Winfrey – scores a 10.
Kylie Jenner, who comes from a wealthy family and who has leveraged her fame to her advantage, ranks a 7.
According to Forbes, a ‘self-made’ person can be defined as ‘having built a company or established a fortune on her own, rather than inheriting some or all of it’.
Kylie has previously defended being referred to as ‘self-made’, pointing out that her parents stopped supporting her financially when she was just 15 years old. Explaining herself to Interview magazine, Kylie said, ‘there’s really no other word to use other than self-made because that is the truth’.
The lip kit entrepreneur has also emphasised how she started her business – Kylie Cosmetics – all by herself. No mean feat for such a young person.
However, Kylie has since clarified that self-made may not be quite accurate, telling The New York Times:
I can’t say I’ve done it by myself,
If they’re just talking finances, technically, yes, I don’t have any inherited money. But I have had a lot of help and a huge platform.
Kylie may well have worked extremely hard to earn her vast fortune, and has every right to feel proud of her impressive business endeavors.
Indeed, less driven twenty-somethings from her background might have been content to while away their days sipping cocktails by the pool, without feeling the need to create a legacy separate from their family’s.
However, there are many other talented young women out there from more ordinary beginnings who will never enjoy the benefit of Kylie’s global reach and A List connections. It’s good to see Kylie finally acknowledging the substantial amount of privilege her success has been built on.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.