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There’s No Good Reason to Shame Kylie Jenner for Finding Success on Her Own Terms

The 20-year-old cosmetics mogul received backlash on her “Forbes” feature, but here's why we should celebrate her instead.

Image courtesy of Kevin Tachman / Contributor/ Getty Images

The internet erupted in outrage yesterday after Forbes put reality star Kylie Jenner on the cover of its “America’s Women Billionaires” issue and described the mogul as “self-made.”

“At 21, she’s set to be the youngest-ever self-made billionaire,” the cover reads. “Welcome to the era of extreme fame leverage.”

“Kylie Cosmetics,” the company Jenner started in 2015 as “Lip Kits by Kylie,” has brought in over $900 million in fortune, but audiences take issue with Jenner’s success, claiming her upbringing as part of the Kardashian clan is responsible. “Kylie Jenner is NOT self-made at all,” a user tweeted last night. “This is the problem with talking about successful people in America. We act like they did it by themselves when that’s never the case,” another tweeted. “Self-made means having succeeded in life unaided,” chimed in.

Regardless of whether or not Jenner is, by definition, “self-made,” the fact is that she has built incredible success out of an authentic love of makeup — and brought millions of people enjoyment in the process, which we should be celebrating.

Another, more interesting angle around her story is that part of the origin of her massive success lies in a past insecurity of hers.

“I was 15 and I was insecure about my lips,” Jenner revealed on her reality show, Life of Kylie. “It has been an insecurity of mine all my life,” she told Complex magazine in 2016. When fans shamed Jenner for getting temporary lip fillers, she took the opportunity to own her new look, and even created a brand out of her infamous lips—making it “her thing.” (She has recently announced that she had her fillers removed.) In a 2015 interview with TIME, Jenner spoke about wanting to be an inspiration to young girls who struggle with self-confidence. “I felt like bullying was my thing, and I’m passionate about it, and I want to help other young girls and boys going through the same thing,” she said, “I’m going through the same thing you are, so we can go through it together.”

In fact, using an insecurity to fuel a new project may boost success, according to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of business psychology at University College London. “[Insecurity] is a motivating force,” Chamorro-Premuzic writes in his book, Confidence. “Being dissatisfied with yourself is the best reason for wanting to improve.”

While many people try to cope with insecurities by hiding them or stuffing them inside, Kylie chose to speak very publicly about hers, then used it as fuel for her company, which happened to become a smash success. So whether or not you take issue with the “self-made” description, and whether or not you happen to like her lip kits, Jenner deserves props for her ability to turn a vulnerability into something so major. 

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