Self-made or Kardashian-Jenner made ?

Lyna H. Misao *

Two week ago, an American business magazine Forbes reported that a 20- year old Kylie Jenner, who is the youngest member of the Kardashian-Jenner clan is on track to be the youngest ever self-made billionaire in 2018. Kylie cosmetics debuted two years ago that has sprung into a beauty industry icon worth near-about 800 million. The publisher further enclosed that the 20- year old is thus worth $900m alongside her additional earning from the reality TV show and endorsement that was aired early on since she was 10.

Kylie's achievement is being applauded by her fans and families there are claims that having a name like Jenner already built the platform crucial for the success. In accordance to such a claim, I took the liberty to do a research on most celebrated entrepreneurs of our time. Some well-knowns worth mentioning are people like Walt Disney who started off as a farm boy drawing cartoon pictures of his neighbor's horses for fun, struggled in an art studio creating ads for newspapers and magazines.

The legend Steve Jobs dropped out of college as his parents couldn't handle the burden of his education. He unofficially continues to audit classes living off free meals and returning coke bottles for change just to get by. Howard Shultz grew up in a housing complex for the poor, works as a sales representative for Xerox. Greatly inspired by Italian coffee culture, opened his own coffee shop and later acquired Starbucks of which he was once a marketing manager. Today, Starbucks has over 25,000 outlets around the world.

Do Won Chang came with his wife in the U.S in search for better life, works three jobs to meet ends. He currently owns the fastest growing fashion retailer forever 21. Coco Chanel's story is the classic tale of rags-to- designer-tweed, a stylish Dickensian drama. Born in dire poverty to unwed parents, she was shuffled off to an orphanage and raised by the Catholic nuns after her mother died.

Everything Chanel encountered among the very poor became material for the fashions she later designed for the very rich. She invented the poor look and her legacy lives on today, still standing as one of the most expensive and celebrated brands.

On the contrary, whether by choice or not, Kylie grew up in the spotlight among her famous siblings in the reality series, 'Keeping Up With The Kardashian' since 2007 that has subsequently become one of the longest-running reality television series. Kylie and her older sister, Kendall Jenner, soon became teen icons following their onscreen fame. They started to endorse a number of fashion brands, and eventually launched their own fashion line 'Kendall & Kylie'.

They even ventured into writing with a ghostwritten teenage sci-fi novel titled 'Rebels: City of Indra'. Kylie began modeling in her teenage years and appeared in a number of commercials, as well as music videos by popular musical stars. Having fans of over 100 million, her looks, styles are mimicked every day and Youtuber recreating her styles. Ridiculous enough yet, even the way she poses with her baby daughter Stormi is being recreated.

On that note, what wouldn't sell if you are a trendsetter, right? No wonder her first line of lip-kit sold out in 30 seconds which wouldn't have been possible for just anyone. A famous meme that says no one is ugly but poor gets even deeper when we contemplate on how she wholly transformed.

Legitimizing herself through plastic surgeries and lip filler, her face became the market, which now targets women around the globe by selling her products. Needless to say, she does not fit into the category of self- made entrepreneur due to fact that she already had both social and economic capital let alone fame inevitable to build an empire from early on. Thanks to big mama Kris Jenner, who was so ahead of time and built the foundation for her kids early on.

While we undeniably, acknowledged a great evolvement and upgrade on the part of Forbes to have tallied female dominated industry. Kylie on the other hand, deserves a standing ovation on her triumph to be included as one of the youngest billionaires alongside keeping her business running and unceasingly meeting the consumer needs by updating her products according to the trend which is the core in the network of entrepreneurship. However, applauding her achievement has cons in two aspects.

On the part of Forbes, appreciating entrepreneur like Kylie and the approval of her cosmetic-lines as self-made sends out the message that is discouraging for the younger generation as it indirectly portrays that one can be billionaire in a blink of an eye without any struggle which in reality is only for the privileged few and never the case in the actual world. Secondly, lifting up such woman contributes to the idea and validates that one now needs beauty to be successful and prosperous or beauty and success go hand in hand.

Gone are the days where role models were indeed inspiring women who made history like Helen Keller who overcame the adversity of being blind, mute and deaf to become one of the 20th century's leading humanitarians, as well as co-founder of the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU). Keller tackled social and political issues, including women's suffrage, pacifism and birth control. She strongly advocated for the welfare of blind people. She co-founded Helen Keller International to combat the causes and consequences of blindness and malnutrition.

Keller became a member of the Socialist Party, wrote several articles about socialism. Valentina Tereshkova who was the first woman to flown in space, orbited Earth 48 times and also the only women ever to have been on a solo space mission. Mother Teresa the winner of the Noble Peace Prize for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress. Tammy Duckworth an Iraq War veteran served as a U.S Army helicopter pilot and suffered severe wounds, losing both of her legs and damaging her right arm.

However, Duckworth became the first Asian American woman elected to Congress in Illinois, the first disabled woman to be elected to Congress, the first female double amputee in the Senate, the first Senator to give birth while in office. A billionaire media giant, talk show host, philanthropist Oprah Winfrey who was sexually abused by a number of male relatives became the richest African American of the 20th century and the world's only black billionaire for three years running, the most influential woman of her generation.

Last but not the least, the legend of our land, fearless Mary Kom, an Indian Olympic boxer who went on to pursue her dream of taking up sports as a career that was considered masculine by our social standard became five-time World Amateur boxing champion, and the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the six world championships.

We have been in a battle occupied with social networks that promotes the unattainable beauty standards. From the hourglass body shape to fake lashes, perfect eyebrows, to thicker lips, most women of our time has lost their unique beauty in trying to keep with the normative standard of the popular culture.

Post-Marxist argued that advanced industrialized society created false needs, which integrated individuals into the existing system of production and consumption via mass media, advertising, industrial management, and contemporary modes of thought. The most popular one of our time 'Instagram' is filled with fashion bloggers, fitness trainers, models and celebrities that are being shown to young people in a time of their lives that they are particularly susceptible to peer-pressure and looking good.

Such exposure often leads to low self-esteem including the inability to be confident in one's own skin where everyone is transforming drastically and any area in life that requires confidence. The saddest thing of all is that these negative feelings are being brought about just so some company somewhere can sell more products while we constantly battle to live up to this culture.

Today, there are many victims that are manacled by the capitalized ideal beauty that has turned to various mental illnesses such as eating disorders, depression and anxiety, preoccupied by rigorously working out to achieve the normative body types rather than focusing on many other productive aspects.

Renee Engeln, a professor in Northwestern University in her research has found that 70 Percent of young women said they believe they will be treated better by others if they looked more like the beauty ideal they see in social media. It's a sick culture we live in that puts us into turmoil, depleting our precious time on idolizing what we do not possess, prompting us every day of what we lack, adding our flaws by creating false needs that we supposedly as women should be or have alongside a society, that is designed to see women as inferior.

In the midst of consistently fighting for our rights, recognition, our voices to matter, to hold a position as a decision maker, false physical beauty is the least we need to define our worth and abilities. Finally yet importantly, Forbes could have been appreciated had it set a better example rather than someone who is epitome of a 'valley girl', had it chosen the right self-made youngest entrepreneur that empowers people in a right way regardless of gender, had it not used 'Self-made' at all to define Kylie Jenner, it would have done justice.

* Lyna H. Misao wrote this article for
The writer is at JNU, New Delhi and can be contacted at lynamisao143(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on July 24, 2018.

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