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Successful isn't synonymous with self-made so why has Kylie Jenner 'earned' that title?

Successful, yes. Self-made, no.

LAST YEAR, FORBES magazine estimated that Kylie Jenner was set to become ‘the youngest-ever self-made billionaire’.

And this week – less than a year on from their initial estimation – the publication made it official by naming the 21-year-old the ‘youngest self-made billionaire ever’.

It infuriated people then, and it’s infuriating people now.

Look, it’s safe to assume that at this stage most people couldn’t care less how much money the Kardashian/ Jenner family rake in on an annual basis.

Suffice to say that between experience, exposure and endorsements, it’s more money than most of us could even comprehend, and after 11 years the vast majority of us have become desensitised to the vast wealth the family display on a daily basis.

So, no, it’s not the billionaire status that bothers people, it’s the ‘self-made’ title that they take exception to.

Kylie Jenner was born into privilege. Her father was a world-famous Olympian and a successful motivational speaker, her mother was an exceptionally astute manager and businesswoman, and her older siblings mixed with LA’s up and coming socialites.

At just ten-years-old she was thrust into the limelight when a camera crew was welcomed into her parents’ Calabasas home, and her family went from being wealthy and privileged to celebrities recognised on a global scale.

All things considered, the Kardashian/Jenner dynasty quickly became a force to be reckoned with, and before reaching double-digits Kylie was surrounded by some of the best-connected individuals the world has to offer. 

All around her, as multi-million dollar contracts were being signed, lucrative business deals were being struck, and the dollars continued to pour into the K/J Empire, Kylie, still a teenager, decided to launch her own cosmetic company, Kylie Cosmetics.

And sure, there is no doubt that she has made a rip-roaring success of it, but does that alone qualify her for the ‘self-made’ title?

Well no, because successful isn’t synonymous with self-made.

Look at it this way, Kylie’s company could ultimately have been unsuccessful, but regardless of the outcome, could it ever have been dubbed a self-made venture?

Sugar Factory American Brasserie Grand Opening - Las Vegas Source: AJM

Without the public platform, the financial security, and the infinite and arguably priceless connections, it’s highly unlikely Kylie would have even been in a position to launch a company, let alone reach billionaire status.

So to brand her ‘self-made’ is laughable at best, and insulting at worst.

Responding to the backlash the original Forbes cover received last summer, Kylie stressed that as she was ‘cut off’ financially by her parents at the age of 15,  she stands by the ‘self-made’ status.

What I’m trying to say is I did have a platform, but none of my money is inherited.

And given the most recent backlash, Forbes said that it defines “self-made” as someone who ‘built a company or established a fortune on her own, rather than inheriting some or all of it.’

It’s well for Forbes that they have their own definition of the term, because as far as the rest of us are concerned ‘self-made’ means achieving success and prominence by one’s own efforts.

Kylie didn’t pull herself up by the bootstraps, she didn’t risk losing everything on her venture, and she certainly wouldn’t have encountered the same challenges and obstacles other ‘entrepreneurs’ will have faced while attempting to establish their own businesses.

Sure, there is little doubt that the youngest Jenner sister put the work in, but had Kylie been born into an anonymous family on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum, how likely is it Kylie Cosmetics and its multiple collections would have come to fruition?

Successful, yes. Self-made, no.

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About the author:

Niamh McClelland

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