Kylie Jenner’s picture landed on the cover of Forbes magazine on Wednesday, and it sparked more controversy than any tabloid in the checkout aisle.
The youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner clan surpassed her sisters and was crowned on Forbes‘ ranking of America’s wealthiest women as the youngest “self-made” (almost) billionaire ever. She’s amassed over $900 million for her famous lip kits and Kylie cosmetic line in just three years, and is on track to soon be a billionaire.
Even if her lips sealed the deal, it’s the family name that helped propel her to fame. So the internet fired back, questioning just how “self-made” Jenner really was.
The narrative of rich kids being self made is offensive
— 🇭🇹I hate Swag Surf🇭🇹 (@BosNaud) July 12, 2018
Forbes’ assistant managing editor, Luisa Krol, defined “self-made” as something a little more flexible.
“We consider any person who built their own fortunes to be self-made, so essentially anyone who didn’t inherit any part of their money,” She stated in a press release. “Rising up through the ranks of a company and/or getting compensated for helping significantly grow companies … is self-made by our definition.”
The cover story points out Jenner started her cosmetics empire with her own $250,000 earned through modeling, and she is the sole owner of the company and its earnings.
the lesson here is that if your parents have the connections to shop a reality show that launches when you're 10 so you're famous from childhood & have very famous siblings, maybe you too can pull yourself up from your bootstraps & start a company valued at billions #goals
— Franchesca Ramsey (@chescaleigh) July 11, 2018
But because it’s 2018 and Twitter is a free-for-all, even the literal dictionary entered the debate to set the record straight on the true definition of “self-made.”
Self-made means having succeeded in life unaided.
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) July 11, 2018
Young people, activists and social media personalities took to Twitter to call out Forbes for seeming to ignore the fact that Jenner comes from a family of incredible wealth and privilege.
Its amazing how many people are willfully ignorant about how much privilege factors into obtaining wealth. For example, calling K Jenner self-made is just dishonest. https://t.co/XMuE4pUzfY
— Shanita Hubbard (@msshanitarenee) July 11, 2018
calling kylie jenner a ‘self-made billionaire’ is like claiming you made soup from scratch because you opened a can and reheated it.
— gulab jamun (@PedestrianPoet) July 11, 2018
It is not shade to point out that Kylie Jenner isn’t self-made. She grew up in a wealthy, famous family. Her success is commendable but it comes by virtue of her privilege. Words have meanings and it behooves a dictionary to remind us of that. https://t.co/2HzIJbLb8q
— roxane gay (@rgay) July 11, 2018
this “Kylie Jenner is a self made billionaire” bullshit is incredible. Like yeah if I was born in a mansion in Malibu and get handed a couple million to start a business venture I could do that shit too. When your parents were already millionaires, you aren’t self made😂
— T-R E A 🥀 (@rea_t12) July 12, 2018
Calling Kylie Jenner self-made without acknowledging anywhere the incredible headstart she had is what allows people to turn around and look at poor people and ask them why they haven’t become billionaires yet. Her story is not inspiring or motivating for anyone https://t.co/YMnTSzHlKP
— Lola (@lola_adewuya) July 11, 2018
And like all things on the internet, it got complicated. Some were quick to tweet that Jenner deserves credit for the genius of her empire that’s become a mainstay in pop culture, especially given that our society doesn’t always like to see women succeed.
At the same time, others said that pointing out the problems with calling Jenner “self-made” weren’t necessarily anti-feminist.
It's nuts to me that the simple act of pointing out that Kylie Jenner is nowhere near "self-made" is being equated with "bashing women." Do y'all stan for poor women with the same ferocity because I doubt it.
— Marina Watanabe (@marinashutup) July 13, 2018
Things took a turn for the bizarre when a cheeky GoFundMe cropped up to help raise the remaining $100 million to turn her into a true billionaire.
Being “self-made” has long been a hallmark of an American culture that hails a “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality as key to achieving the American dream. At the same time, the wealth gap in the U.S. is steadily increasing, and the top fifth of U.S. income bracket hold almost 90 percent of the country’s wealth.
Jenner’s spot on the Forbes cover has opened a debate that touches on a number of hot-button issues, including wealth, race and privilege in America and also the visibility of women in business and entrepreneurship.
She’s yet to comment on the backlash, but a Forbes spokeswoman defended the decision, telling CNN that some are “more self-made than others.” She said Jenner’s title comes from her complete ownership of the company and its earnings.
And some are here for it.
Kylie Jenner is worth 9 times what her dad is and 15 times what her mom is.
Hell, she’s worth double what the Kim-Kanye duo are as a couple.
So, before you hate on her “self-made” comments, please compare what you’ve done to those around you and see if you measure up.
— Nick Sorrell (@NickSorrell1) July 13, 2018
Self made in terms of riches doesn't mean came from nothing. Eating indomie n bbq sauce for 18 years then u suddenly make loads of money.
It simply means your riches are generated by yourself. Not inherited.
Kylie Jenner wealth is generated by her ventures. Get the hell over it
— #DISUNOMICS 👨🏿💻👨🏿💻👨🏿💻 (@D1SUNOMICS) July 13, 2018
“Kylie Jenner isn’t self made because she had rich parents” well so does Paris Jackson, Kendall, Kourtney
And “self made” means your efforts,working to get something..she didn’t inherit the $900million but the foundation which she made good use of
Stop trying to discredit her😒
— Mo🍭 (@Sandymonajj) July 11, 2018