Kylie Jenner is both a product and a symbol of our generation. Having grown up in a not-so-real reality tv world, she was thrust under the spotlight at the age of 10 and catapulted to fame in her teenage years. I would imagine being Kylie Jenner would feel a lot like being Truman from the 1998 film, The Truman Show; growing up in front of the entire world without fully realising the magnitude of that exposure. Of course, a big difference is that Kylie’s reality contains a lot more glitz, glamour, and plastic surgery. While her title as the world’s youngest-ever self-made billionaire was received with widespread scrutiny, what is more interesting is what her success says about modern-day society. What is ironic is that many critics of her success are the same people who follow her on instagram, have Kylie lip kits as a staple in their makeup bag, binge-watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and imitate her style. Kylie Jenner would not have achieved success if it weren’t for the flock of supporters and consumers that give leverage to her brand and image. The real question lies in how her success represents the values we as a generation possess.
Kylie, a role-model idolised by young women, has re-produced the notion of “perfection”; the idea that physical beauty is defined by a specific look. Her image promotes surgery, waist-training, weight-loss supplements, and other cosmetic procedures with the ultimate aim of achieving this ostensible perfection. The success of the Kardashian-Jenner brand capitalises on the insecurities of its consumers. They communicate the message that you are not enough and that being enough entails altering your appearance to fit these impossible standards of beauty. We are becoming obsessed with a perfection that is not real.
The evolution of Kylie’s face and body is testament to the fact that money really can buy beauty; this beauty essentially gave her the platform she now occupies. Kylie Jenner has the ability to cost Snapchat $1.3 billion with a single tweet. Recently, I came across a news article about Kylie’s groundbreaking epiphany when she tried cereal with milk for the first time. While it is quite remarkable that someone aged 21 with access to almost everything money can buy had never tried milk with cereal before, it’s hardly newsworthy. Kylie herself admits that her fame may not be legitimate; she has stated several times that she “wasn’t meant to be famous.” So, why do we continue to elevate individuals who personify superficial values? Why do we continue to emulate people who lack substance? What does the way we consume media say about us as people and the lives we choose to lead?
The truth is, we are increasingly becoming a generation that wants money, fame and power without having earned it. A largely hypocritical generation that uses online platforms to express views that we contradict through our everyday actions. We are a generation that thrives off of validation from strangers and determine our worth through the number of likes on our Instagram pictures. We compare ourselves to airbrushed versions of other people. We inhabit a reality where we live our lives through and for social media. If it wasn’t broadcasted to the world, did it really happen? Before taking to Twitter to attack celebrities who are “famous for being famous”, let’s question how we gave them that power to begin with.