Kylie Jenner and Re-Defining “Self-Made”

Immediately following the release of the ‘America’s Women Billionaires’ edition of Forbes, Kylie Jenner came under both scrutiny and praise for her soon to be billion-dollar cosmetic franchise. Maybe its time we start re-defining “self-made.”

Kylie Cosmetics

Currently valued at about $800 million, Kylie Cosmetics began two years ago selling , stemming from Jenner’s infamously enhanced lips. Kylie also owns one-hundred percent of the company. If Jenner breaks the billion-dollar mark via income from Kylie Cosmetics, reality TV, and endorsements before her 23rd birthday, she becomes the youngest billionaire of all time.

But, does Kylie Jenner truly fall under the “self-made” category she now boasts?

Image via Time

The Kardashian-Clan’s Role

Forbes, in 2014, decided to administer a score to each individual falling under the “self-made” category. The score ranges from 1-10. Scoring between 1 and 5 means that most of the fortune was inherited. A score in the 6-10 range shows that person truly built their success from the ground up. Jenner scored a 7.

Keeping Up with the Kardashians began when Kylie was only 9 years old. With the show averaging 1 million viewers per episode, Jenner didn’t quite reach the spotlight alone. Could Kylie have launched such a successful business without the stage created by her family?

First off, one must discuss the undeniably impressive managing, or “momaging,” of Kris Jenner. From Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner to every single one of her offspring, Kris has managed her way to a net worth of $60 million. Not to mention the modeling successes of sister Kendall, and never-ending ventures of older sister Kim.

While Jenner’s family deserves more credit than they received in the cover story for allowing her to garner the fan-base for her cosmetic company that she was able to, it’s time to revisit the idea of a “self-made” billionaire.

Re-Defining “Self-Made”

If you look at the richest individuals in the world, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Warren Buffet, they all came from relatively privileged backgrounds. Not only do each of them have a leg-up by being white males in America, but they all came from what most would consider wealthy families.

Warren Buffet is the son of a congressman. Mark Zuckerberg attended an elite boarding school in Westchester County and was born to a dentist and psychiatrist. Jeff Bezos started his franchise with a $100,000 “investment” from his parents, following his departure as vice president of D.E. Shaw & Co on Wall Street.

Perhaps Kris, Kim, Kendall and the rest of the Kardashian-Jenner clan deserved more of a shout-out in the Forbes exposition. However, labeling billionaires who are the product of privilege as “self-made,” disrespects people who have actually created empires themselves.

Working from the Ground Up

Oprah Winfrey, Sheldon Adelson, and Harold Hamm are among those who scored a 10 on Forbes’s self-made scale. Winfrey, born to a teen mom in Mississippi, grew up impoverished and worked her way to the top with everything she had. Harold Hamm was one of 13 children born to sharecroppers in Oklahoma. Sheldon Adelson is the son of immigrants from Lithuania and Wales and grew up in a Boston tenement.

Image via Hollywood Reporter

Is Kylie Jenner’s rise to billionaire-status even comparable to the work of these individuals? Does Forbes’s “self-made” scale truly give enough credit to the increasingly rare billionaires who came from nothing?

Some scrutiny against Jenner may be harsh, but with the unignorably horrific distribution of wealth worldwide and in the U.S., it grows difficult to praise billion-dollar success with no questions asked.

Cover image via The Daily Beast


Also published on Medium.