Congratulations are due to Kylie Jenner, who by Forbes' reckoning just became the youngest ever self-made billionaire in the world!
Now, I've seen some (likely sexist) naysayers on social media insisting that no, Kylie Jenner can hardly be "self-made." But Forbes defines "self-made" as "someone who 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." And while it's true that Forbes' wealth estimations rely on honesty and have been manipulated by amoral self-promoters, the Kardashians don't seem like those kinds of folks.
Kylie Jenner is truly the face of the American Dream, pulling herself up by the bootstraps to sell makeup, I think. But as former President Barack Obama once wisely pointed out, she didn't build that! What makes Kylie's story so uniquely American is the community around her. There were dozens of people holding her up to the sunlight, like brown slaves liberated by a white savior Khaleesi.
Take Robert Kardashian. Robert was the great-grandson of Armenian Christians who in the classic American immigration story, came to this country to flee the Russian czar's oppression. Each generation built on the shoulders of the last, until Robert became a successful millionaire attorney and married the future Kris Jenner.
Or take Robert's friend, O.J. Simpson, raised in the housing projects of San Francisco. Through hard work and determination, he became one of the greatest all-time running backs, winning the Heisman Trophy and joining the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Had he not befriended such a hard-working individual, Kardashian never would have become a household name.
Or take Conrad Hilton, the son of a Norwegian immigrant and his German wife, who single-handedly built Hilton Hotels and became a self-made billionaire. His son was self-made billionaire Barron Hilton, who gave birth to self-made billionaire Richard Hilton, whose daughter was self-made model Paris Hilton, employed by self-made billionaire Donald Trump. Paris later became best friends with Robert's daughter Kim, placing the family in the tabloids again.
Or take poker player Rick Salomon, who wooed Paris on camera. Or R&B artist Ray J, who romanced Kim, the tape of which was definitely not leaked against her will by her conniving mother in a bid for a TV show after she saw how much attention Paris got. Where would Jenner be today without these gentlemen? Without her sister quite literally taking one for the team?
The result of the efforts of all these entrepreneurs is that Kylie Jenner became a reality star recognized by millions at the age of ten. A decade later, she had nearly universal name recognition, 118 million Instagram followers, the admiration of virtually every woman below the age of 35, a vast network of entertainment, fashion, and retail connections, and a family worth hundreds of millions to bail her out should her endeavors fail. Despite these obstacles, her self-made makeup line was wildly successful.
John Adams best exemplified the generational aspects of the American Dream in a letter to his wife Abigail.
"I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy," he wrote to her. "Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain."
Our forefathers built skyscrapers and worked the land, so their sons could be singers and pole vaulters, so their daughters could sell $360 makeup brushes to gullible teenagers and Pepsi to woke black people. Truly, Kylie Jenner is the American Dream personified.