The Margin: Kylie Jenner makes Forbes list of wealthiest ‘self-made’ women and the internet is up in arms

“The exact opposite of ‘self made.’”

“This is what crushing it looks like.”

Those were just two of the many, many opinions posted to Twitter after Forbes put Kylie Jenner on the cover of its “America’s Women Billionaires” issue and said she was on her way to being “the youngest-ever self-made billionaire.”

Jenner, the youngest daughter of the “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” family, is said to be worth an estimated $900 million — more than twice as much as her sister, Kim Kardashian West.

“Welcome to the era of extreme fame leverage,” the Forbes cover reads.

Forbes said that $800 million of that fortune comes from an estimated valuation of her cosmetics company, Kylie Cosmetics, which she launched just three years ago. According to Forbes, she sold more than $630 million worth of makeup since the company’s launch, including an estimated $330 million in 2017. Jenner owns 100% of the cosmetics business, though the article notes that her mother, Kris, “handles the actual business stuff, in exchange for the 10% management cut she takes from all her children.”

Thanks to “minuscule overhead and marketing costs,” the article said, the company profits are “outsize and go right into Jenner’s pocket.”

Perhaps no surprise, many took issue with Forbes’s use of the label “self-made” — after all, the extreme fame that Jenner has leveraged could be argued to be anything but self-made.

Dictionary.com tweeted this subtle shade:

Still, others came to Jenner’s defense, pointing out that even if she didn’t start from the bottom, she has taken what privilege she has and turned it into a substantial business.

Forbes said of its methodology on the “self-made” label: “We consider any person who built her own fortune, and didn’t inherit the money, to be self-made.” Meaning, the person’s fortune does not derive from inherited wealth. “Top executives at tech firms who are compensated for helping significantly grow companies make the ranks but not second-generation women running family businesses.”

In other words, Kylie Jenner is “self-made” by Forbes’s designation because she built Kyle Cosmetics, but any relative that might inherit and run her business would not be.

The Forbes article laid out how Jenner’s fame isn’t simply derived from her family’s fame. She has grown a cult social-media empire of her own, with 110 million followers on Instagram alone. All that social-media exposure is “just another word for free marketing,” the article noted, which Jenner has “monetized to the extreme.”

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