Meet Paris Hilton, a Self-Made Rich Person 


When I try to think about the things I might have in common with Paris Hilton, the list is, like me, quite short: we are both able-bodied, alive, and share 99 percent of our genetic content, as we are both human beings. Unlike me, however, Paris Hilton is an heiress to one of the biggest hotel chains in the world, became famous for being famous as a teenager, was a former Trump Management model, channeled her fame into a $1.5 billion perfume brand, and now hosts a new Viceland show called Hollywood Love Story that explores darkness of social media obsession.

Yet she is among the rich Hollywood celebrities born into wealth who have taken to describing themselves as “self-made.” Hilton discussed the blowback to her “self-made” claim in a recent GQ interview that, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, described Hilton as a “Woman of the People.”

She said:

I think I’d landed in from Europe back from Mykonos, and they asked me like, “Are you self-made?” I answered, “Obviously,” because I am. Everything I’ve done, I’ve done on my own. Nobody gave me anything. Everything, I’ve worked for. Every car I bought, every house I bought, everything I’ve done has not been from my family, it’s been because I’ve been working my butt off since I was a teenager in New York. So, I feel like that is self-made. When you work hard and you build something by yourself without the help of anyone, I consider that self-made. If you’re just handed a bunch of money from your parents, and you don’t work, that’s not self-made, that’s just a trust fund kid.

There is, of course, a large gap between a trust fund kid and being “self-made,” a term that allows Hilton to so easily dismiss the institutional privilege that comes in the form of familial connections and wealth, the latter of which is the most common trait of successful entrepreneurs.

If there were any doubt to Hilton’s “self-made” status, GQ asks Hilton if she could “relate” to the struggle of living with six roommates in LA, as the show’s cast lives. “When I moved to L.A. I was 18, and my parents did not want me to leave,” Hilton says. “I was living at the Waldorf Astoria.”

Allow me to repeat:

I was living at the Waldorf Astoria.
I was living at the Waldorf Astoria.
I was living at the Waldorf Astoria.
I was living at the Waldorf Astoria.
I was living at the Waldorf Astoria.

“They really wanted me to be a businesswoman, in the real estate world or in the hotel world. So when I turned 18, I just left and went to L.A., and I didn’t have anything, and got a model agency,” she continues. “So I can really relate to that story in a way, because my family didn’t want me to come here. I did it on my own because I had a dream.”

What a lovely, totally relatable dream.

Correction: A previous version of this post cited an incorrect quote from GQ that implied Hilton worked with Trump Model Management within this timeline. GQ has since removed that reference.

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