Skip to content
Culture & Religion

Is Kylie Jenner really a ‘self-made’ billionaire as Forbes deemed her?

Forbes recently claimed Kylie Jenner is “set to be the youngest-ever self-made billionaire.” But some questioned whether “self-made” is an accurate description of her fortune.
Kylie Jenner (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, Forbes published images of a new cover showing Kylie Jenner with a subhead predicting the 20-year-old is “set to be the youngest-ever self-made billionaire.”

The magazine reports that Jenner is likely worth about $900 million, considering her company, Kylie Cosmetics, has sold more than $630 million in makeup to date, and she’s likely earned millions more from TV and other media appearances.

“What her half-sister Kim Kardashian West did for booty, Jenner has done for full lips,” Natalie Robehmed wrote for Forbes.

Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Robehmed’s article describes how Jenner owns 100 percent of Kylie Cosmetics, which has very little overhead and marketing costs.

“Basically, all Jenner does to make all that money is leverage her social media following,” Robehmed wrote. “Almost hourly, she takes to Instagram and Snapchat, pouting for selfies with captions about which Kylie Cosmetics shades she’s wearing, takes videos of forthcoming products and announces new launches.”

It’s a business model that couldn’t have existed two decades ago.

“Social media is an amazing platform,” Jenner told Forbes. “I have such easy access to my fans and my customers…It’s really my only passion. I learned a lot though and just have experienced things that people my age do not even know how to handle. I do feel like people don’t take me seriously as a businesswoman because of my age and my reputation. But I do think they’re starting to.”

Forbes tweeted the story on Wednesday with the hashtag #SelfMadeWomen, prompting many to question whether “self-made” is an accurate description of Jenner’s fortune.

How Kylie Jenner leverages her 110M social media followers to build her $900M empire:

— Forbes (@Forbes) July 11, 2018

Jenner grew up in one of America’s richest and most-followed celebrity families. The daughter of Caitlyn and Kris Jenner, Kylie got a taste of celebrity at a young age from starring on the hit show Keeping Up with the Kardashians alongside her sister, Kendall; her half-sisters, Kourtney, Kim and Khloé Kardashian; and her half-brother, Rob.

“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,” one person tweeted. “Her story is not inspiring or motivating for anyone.”

Smarter faster: the Big Think newsletter
Subscribe for counterintuitive, surprising, and impactful stories delivered to your inbox every Thursday

Although the show’s success can be attributed in part to each of the children, it’s clear that its existence was predicated on the already-established celebrity of their parents, both of whom have been public figures for decades.

Self-made means having succeeded in life unaided.

Used in a sentence: Forbes says that Kylie Jenner is a self-made woman.

— (@Dictionarycom) July 11, 2018

On Wednesday, People published a story claiming that was “shading” Forbes for its cover story, causing yet another disagreement on the correct use of a word.

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.

— roxane gay (@rgay) July 11, 2018

Jenner currently ranks at number 27 on Forbes’ list of “America’s Richest Self-Made Women”.


Up Next