In 2019, Forbes Magazine officially declared Kylie Jenner the youngest self-made billionaire. Given that she was only 21 at the time, it seemed quite the achievement. But are Kylie Jenner and the rest of the Kardashian clan truly self-made celebrities?


Most believe that the Kardashians only became popular because of Kim Kardashian’s friendship with Paris Hilton and her leaked sex tape with Raj-J in 2007. The truth is the family was well known long before that. Kim Kardashian’s father, Robert Kardashian, had been one of OJ Simpson’s defense attorneys in the ‘trial of the century in 1994. Although the Kardashians severed all ties with Simpson following his acquittal, the name ‘Kardashian’ had come into public view. True, the sex tape did help to promote their first TV show ‘Kim Kardashian Superstar’, but no one would have even known her name had it not been for her father.


Since 2007, the Kardashian’s fame has skyrocketed. Their new show ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians (2007)’ became an instant success. It documented the lives and scandals of the Kardashian family – from nude Playboy shoots to countless affairs, the more scandalous the event, the better. Owned by E! first, then Hulu, it has remained popular throughout the 2010s. However, with the rise of Netflix in the 2010s came the fall of TV show viewers – the Kardashians would have to change tactics if they were to remain relevant. Lucky for them, it was then that social media, and in particular, Instagram had become popular. Not only had they found a new way to stay relevant – but they had also attracted a new demographic of younger viewers to idolize them.


As of today, the Kardashians have more than 1.2 billion Instagram followers between them. Kylie Jenner has the most at 305 million, but the rest of her sisters are close behind her. With their popularity on social media have come new money-making opportunities. All sisters regularly participate in paid promotions or giveaways, with the knowledge that a large percentage of their followers will do what they are told. They’ve also released new cosmetics and clothes – Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics is worth around $1.2 billion today.


So, can they be described as self-made? All their opportunities have been handed to them because of social media or social connections. While they have each made a cosmetic or clothing company, it wouldn’t have been successful without their influence, which has been carefully maintained by their ‘momager’ Kris Jenner. The impressionable attitudes of the younger generation have also helped them maintain their business empire. Today, every girl wants the Kylie Jenner nose, the Kim Kardashian butt, and the Kourtney Kardashian body, unaware that the pictures posted of them are very likely photoshopped, or that plastic surgery is responsible for these looks.


It seems that the Kardashians are blissfully unaware of the opportunities being handed to them. While millions on the planet live in poverty, they post pictures on their private islands. Kim Kardashian recently said that people should “get your f*****g a** up and work… it seems that no one wants to work anymore”, failing to realize that thousands are unemployed and that those who are mostly making a small fraction of their weekly salary annually.


Keeping up with the Kardashians officially ended in 2021. But it’s clear that their fame is not going anywhere. As long as they remain on social media, they will continue to remain influential and earn millions each year. Even in 30 years, when the sisters will be in their 70s, people will remember who they are.


The Kardashians may argue that they’re self-made. They’re not. They are people-made.