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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.