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Kylie Jenner Youngest Self-Made Billionaire?

Forbes thinks so. We're not convinced.

March 5th Forbes headline reads,

At 21, Kylie Jenner Becomes The Youngest Self-Made Billionaire Ever

While you may be gasping with envy at such an accomplishment, let’s back it up and recap Kylie’s journey to fame and fortune.

The 1997 baby born into notoriety and privilege, Kylie Kristen Jenner, has captivated households across America since her family’s reality show, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, first lit tv screens. With thousands of fans obsessing over each Jenner-Kardashian plot twist and turn, baby, surgery, fashion style, and trend, breakup, makeup, and marriage, along with several spin-offs series, including Life of Kylie — it’s no wonder the world was ready when Kylie Cosmetics hit the shelves at Ulta.

But is Kylie Jenner the youngest self-made billionaire? That’s pushing it.

Since the infamous E! series debuted on Oct. 14, 2007, though it has continually bombed in the critic’s eye, it has soared with top ratings and remained as the longest running reality-show series thanks to the two camps; the adoring fashionistas who follow Jenner-Kardashian fashion cues and those with guilty-pleasure find their own curiosity entangled in the narratives of the rich and famous. Whether you love the show or abhor it, its success has banked the green and secured an international fan base for each of the family members including, Kylie.

Being born into a family at home in the spotlight coupled with growing up on reality-show that provided a cult following well into the millions was the recipe for Kylie Cosmetic’s ‘overnight’ success.

It’s that simple. The scene was set. The players positioned. The audience anticipating. And just like that, when Kylie Cosmetics went live on Instagram, millions of fans double-tapped to make their purchase scaling profit off the charts. Although Kylie, was already a household name in showbiz, it was the launch of Kylie Cosmetics that landed her in the history books as the youngest “self-made” billionaire.

Okay, sure, she is the youngest billionaire.

Pretty cool, totally!

Strategic, yes.

‘Self-made’, no.

Let’s break it down.

According to the definition of self-made:

/ˈˌself ˈmād/
1. made by oneself.
“his self-made fortune”
2. having become successful or rich by one’s own efforts.
“a self-made millionaire”

Kylie Jenner youngest self made billionaire Black and white ad of woman on a wall with Franchise over lips

Hmmm, so how is the privileged Jenner “self-made”?

Ours aren’t the only eyebrows raised. Across many media outlets, people are starting to question Forbes’ standards. According to Forbes, “Kylie is ‘self-made’ as someone who has built a company or established a fortune on her own, rather than inheriting some or all of it. As long as the list member didn’t inherit a business or money, she is labeled self-made.”

Unified with Forbes definition, Jenner explains that from the age of 15 her parents cut off her inheritance requiring her to generate her own wealth from that point forward. Defending her history-making title, “The self-made thing is true. What I’m trying to say is I did have a platform, but none of my money is inherited.”


Not in the slightest.

Forbes goes on to identify a sliding scale created in which they rank how self-made a business person actually is. The scale ranges from 1-10. For someone who has inherited everything will take their position at 1. Whereas, for someone who grew up impoverished and then overcame substantial obstacles will land at a 10, such as Oprah Winfrey.

On the scale, Forbes placed the plight of Kylie Jenner’s achievements as high as a 7, explaining that although she was born into a famous family, she has leveraged her influence to her own advantage.

Hold up.

Doesn’t that sound like Jenner should be at least at a 1 or 2? Certainly not a 7. Did she not grow up in provision, privilege, and prestige prior to 15 and then go to become a millionaire while living on-screen with her celebrity family? Sure, she became a billionaire, only after her family set her up to become a millionaire.

Let’s put it this way, Jenner cruised to the bank in a Lamborghini with no stop lights, yields, or traffic. All she had to do was hit the pedal. Whereas fellow icons on Forbes’ 400 Self-Made list started from scratch, walking their way to the bank, overcoming pot holes, reckless drivers, and the downpour of rain, followed by the scorching sun on their backs.

Take tv-legend, Oprah Winfrey. The internationally-acclaimed celebrity now was born far away from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood when she birthed to a single, teenage mother in the poor rural outskirts of Mississippi. From there, she grew up with her father in the inner-city of Milwaukee. After encountering the unimaginable assault of sexual abuse, Winfrey became pregnant at the age of 14. However, this precious child did not survive its premature birth. With the weight of the world baring down upon her such a young age, she forged forward. While in high school, she landed a job in radio. By the time she was 19, she became a co-anchor on local evening news station which unknowingly became her springboard into her history-making career in day-time tv.

So, how again did Forbes decide the achievements of Jenner ranked so closely to the triumph of Oprah?

Not quite sure.

Kylie Jenner youngest self made billionaire Ads on a wall in a city

The sobering thing is… we are seeing that when society measures success and promotes one’s accomplishments over another it is actually redefining and reshaping our understanding of what it means to be history-makers and culture-shifters. Frankly, the Jenner narrative doesn’t sit well with us.

Yet, we would be amiss to not let her achievements as the youngest billionaire stir us, provoke us, and spur us onward towards our pursuits.

Landing anywhere on the scale 1-10, success is celebrated. Yet, it always comes with a chance, a shot, an open door, an opportunity. No matter how grand, privileged, accessible, or seemingly hidden, small or downright insignificant, we have all needed someone. Whether it’s been a path paved by inheritance or influence or that one long shot to talk to someone who knew a person who knew that one person who would give you 2 min. of their time- we all have someone to be thankful for. It takes a tribe to succeed, even if just one who believes, pulls, and pushes you, uplifts, and even carries you over the line, all the while they applaud.

Likewise, we will do the same, be that someone for someone.

Fortune or poverty, won’t define our future, because we believe nothing is impossible for those who dream and do. How we arrive; how we pursue, press on, forge thru, battle on, conquer above, and greet our dreams face to face will look different, feel different, be rewarded and recorded different, but it will be savored and celebrated. As Eleanor Roosevelt says,

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

It’s time to stop gasping at Kylie’s headline. Dream and do.

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