Self-Made in the Shade

by Lacey Cencula

It’s ya girl, and she’s #MadOnline.

Unless you live under a rock, you saw earlier this week that Kylie Jenner is on track to be the world’s youngest-ever self-made billionaire. Previously, this title was held by Mark Zuckerberg, so take a hike Zucky.

As expected, the anti-Kardashian masses came with pitchforks wielded absolutely enraged that Forbes would consider Jenner “self-made.” Dictionary.com even felt the need to throw some shade.

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Looking at this from a purely business perspective, Jenner’s fortune is self-made. She used money she earned (herself) to create a company (herself) that generated profit for...herself. It is also worth noting that Jenner still owns 100% of Kylie Cosmetics.

Considering those facts, there shouldn’t even be a debate surrounding it; but alas, here we are. The main argument against Kylie’s self-made classification is the one purported by dictionary.com--the notion that to be self-made, you must have “succeeded in life unaided.”

Now if we’re going off that definition, that a person is self-made only if they worked their way up “unaided”, then who does that leave? It’s well-documented Mark Zuckerberg didn’t create the concept of Facebook; he took an idea, made it better, and built a business from it. So, I guess he was aided, taking him out of self-made contention, right? Anyone that has ever had parents/friends/colleagues/employees/teachers? Yeah sorry get on out of here with your aid!

You get my point that the idea “having succeeded in life unaided” is a far too strict of a requirement. If Kylie had been given an already established and successful $800 million cosmetics company, then right--it wouldn’t be “self-made”. However, she made the company...herself. She generated profit...herself. What’s confusing?

“But Lacey, she was BORN into a wealthy family! So, obviously she had the means to make a successful company!”

Oh, okay! I guess that explains why all her other family members have also crossed the billionaire threshold, right? Net worths are as follows:

  • Khloe Kardashian: $40 million

  • Kourtney Kardashian: $35 million

  • Kendall Jenner: $18 million

  • Kim Kardashian West: $350 million

As you can see, the next closest person to Kylie’s $900 million net worth is half-sister Kim--and really it’s not close. Kendall, who was born into the same conditions as Kylie (albeit even sooner), is even further behind.

Obviously, being born into a successful family surely helps. But no, it does not ensure business nor economic success (i.e. brother Rob Kardashian’s flop of a sock business). Each Kardashian has a side business, not just Kylie. So the conditions are the same for all of them: wealthy family, fame, side business. Clearly if it was “so easy” to become a billionaire by being born rich AND starting a business, then again, they’d all be billionaires.

To quote the esteemed Morning Toast podcast, “Yes she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but she took that silver spoon and she ate your ass.”

More delicately put, she didn’t have to start a business. She could have been born and coasted through life. Let’s not diminish a woman’s business success just because it doesn’t follow a rags-to-riches narrative.

Furthermore, turning fame and a social media following into cold hard cash is not some simple task. It is one thing to have a following, but it’s another thing to have influence. Having a large social media following alone will not get you to billionaire status. Being on a reality show alone will not get you to billionaire status. If that were the case, do you know how many other people would have done what Kylie has done by now?

Looking at the other women on the self-made billionaire list, you find that most of the people took advantage of an opportunity they were given. Oprah, #6 on the list, parlayed a news anchor gig into building a multi-billion dollar media empire. These women took an opportunity, worked hard, and maximized it to their advantage.

And if your anger over Kylie has anything at all to do with this “The Kardashians shouldn’t even be famous!” nonsense then take several seats. The family has been relevant for more than 10 years; being mad about it at this point is cancelled. You’re going to blame them for hustling a hollow, shallow culture that we created??? Clearly, the family is more than just a flash-in-the-pan success and you’re going to be upset for decades to come if you’re still hanging on to that lame notion.

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In conclusion, this tweet applies to the whole family. Dismissal of their success is fueled by sexism and slut-shaming and I, for one, am over it.

Here’s why I’m #NotMadJustPissed: Jenner is making history, by becoming the World’s Youngest Billionaire ever, male or female. This is a title Bill Gates once held. Now, it’s a woman, but apparently we can’t just appreciate that or celebrate it? Nooooo, we have to split hairs on definitions, devalue hard work, and discount success. It’s exhausting truly that we can’t celebrate a woman building a $900 million fortune in less than 3 years. Literally, what more do you people want?

At the end of the day, y’all can debate the meaning of “self-made” all you want. Kylie’s checks are gonna clear either way.

Editor’s note: By article’s end, author had purchased 5 new Kylie lip kits.

Lacey CenculaComment