A profile of Kylie Jenner in Forbes has people going crazy on social media over the magazine’s use of a single word.

There is something about the Kardashian-Jenner family that simultaneously intrigues people and enrages them. The latest drama stems from a profile of Kris Jenner’s youngest child, Kylie Jenner and the recent valuation of her fortune. In 2016, Kylie launched her own make-up business and Forbes magazine values it at about $800 million. The youngest Jenner has another $100 million in dividends, endorsement deals, and other income, which means that she is closing in on that coveted “billionaire” status by the age of 21. 

This makes her the youngest “self-made” billionaire in history, a title held by both Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg in the past. Even still, many people online became incensed at the use of the term “self-made” for the youngest child in a family full of millionaires. So, is the public-at-large being unfair, or did Forbes use the term incorrectly? As with everything involving celebrities and social media in America, it’s a complicated answer.


What Do People Mean When They Say Kylie Jenner Has ‘Privilege?’

Privilege is a term that’s used quite a bit today, but it’s existed in academic circles for decades. Unlike the typical use of the word privilege, this term has a specific meaning and it’s not what many (especially those who get angry at its use) think it is. Just because people are privileged doesn’t meant that everything in their lives is easy or perfect. A person can be privileged and still work hard, face difficulty, and even fail. And privilege in this context doesn’t always mean “money,” either. It can refer to any societal “advantage” you might have based solely on your station in life. This video below explains the concept in a simple way.

The most common use of the term today revolves around socio-economic status, identity, and how society responds to those factors. When and how privilege applies, however, depends on the individual circumstance. Just because a person is privileged in one way doesn’t mean that they are privileged in every way. Rather, this conversation is one that asks all of us to look at society and our own place in it, to see if there isn’t some way we can be more understanding and helpful to our neighbors who experience the world differently than we do. 

So, Is Kylie Jenner a “Self-Made” Billionaire or Not?

In Kylie Jenner’s case, she comes from a very rich family with a name that’s been “famous” since the 1980s. So, when people think of “self-made” entrepreneurs, they tend to think of folks who started with “nothing” and then built an empire. Except, that’s not exactly what the term means, at least in this case. Despite being famous and rich since birth, Kylie is indeed self-made. In fairness, the author of the Forbes profile notes that Kylie Jenner is “redefining” that term.

Kylie Jenner

Credit: Mike Mozart, Flickr

She owns 100 percent of her make-up company, which she financed using $250,000 earned from modeling and other celebrity-type work. She didn’t inherit her wealth, nor did she get a loan from her parents to start the company. If her company and other holdings are truly worth $900 million, she’s not quite a billionaire but it “counts” as being self-made. Kylie Jenner, like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg before her, comes from a family of means, but she built the company with money she earned. Of course, and this is where the privilege conversation comes in, she found herself in the position to earn that money and start her company because of the opportunities afforded to her as a celebrity and member of a famous family.

Why Do People Get So Mad About Celebrities on Social Media?

This is a particularly poignant (albeit disturbing) episode of South Park that came out during the time of Britney Spears’ “meltdown.” The episode essentially mocks how folks idolize these celebrities, raise them up on a pedestal, only to eagerly await the moment they tear them down.

Kylie Jenner

Credit: Disney/ABC, Flickr

The Kardashians especially face this ire, because none of them are performers. They don’t act. They don’t sing. They are simply famous for being famous. Despite hundreds of millions of fans, people like to trash them, especially with the anonymity social media provides.

There is an argument to be made that social media is actually making society meaner. Without question, there are well-meaning people who care about societal issues that are important to them. In these contentious times, that means some contentious discourse.

Kendall Kylie Jenner Vintage T-shirts


However, there is also research that suggests social media is making us “meaner.” This seems to be more a case of the latter, in which people overreacted to a story about a young woman who started an incredibly successful company. 


If any of this strikes you as distasteful, the resolution is to get more involved with social media, not less.

People always say only the loudest and angriest people are those who use social media or leave comments online the most. This may or may not be true, but who can blame a person for just wanting to ignore it all? And while you’re perfectly free to avoid celebrity news or online shouting matches, if you want to change the way people behave you have to join the party. That means, ignore the pointless stuff and don’t get engaged in petty disagreements, but instead use social media to be a positive example to the people in your life.

Social media is much like “real life” in all the ways that count. When you are engaging with other users, you are engaging with other human beings. How you behave, the words you use, and what sort of things you share reflect on you. So, rather than being a part of the “problem,” try being a part of the “solution.” If you try to lead your life as a good example to your friends or kids, do that same thing online. Treat people online like you would treat people in real life, and maybe we can all start being a little better.

What do you think? Share your thoughts, reactions, and feelings in the comments below. Also, remember to share the article online so your friends can get in on the conversation. 

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