Sam Reed
Jul 11, 2018 @ 6:45 pm

Be honest—were you a bit miffed seeing "self-made" among the many adjectives used to describe the uber-successful beauty mogul Kylie Jenner in her latest Forbes story? 

The 20-year-old, whose 3-year-old Kylie Cosmetics business has her on track to be the youngest ever self-made billionaire (she will soon usurp the title from Facebook founder Mark Zuckberg, who made his first billion at the comparatively old age of 23), is taking some heat after landing the cover of Forbes' fourth annual "America's Richest Self-Made Women" issue. 

While the cover spot itself wasn't an issue (another Kar-Jenner on front of a glossy is nothing novel, these days—not even for Forbes), many readers pointed out that the title "self-made" doesn't acknowledge the major head start she had in her business. 

"Her success is commendable but it comes by virtue of her privilege," tweeted writer Roxane Gay. Others on social media had a similar take: 

Even Dictionary.com got in on the action, throwing subtle shade by pointing out the true definition of the word "self-made." (For those asking, it's "having succeeded in life unaided.")

Searches for the term also apparently sky-rocketed following the release of the Kylie cover, according to the company's Twitter account. 

A few had other ideas about who exactly should be recognized for their ingenuity, business skills and entrepreneurial mind: Kar-Jenner matriarch, Kris Jenner.

Jezebel's Megan Reynolds echoed the sentiment, writing, "She does owe much of her 'self-made' wealth to her mother, Kris Jenner, whose evil genius for marketing her children and creating a capitalist empire around their image deserves far more shine here."

But that's not all. More people, still, were critical of Forbes' overall model. "I have heard a lot of critiques of the list and how intergenerational wealth/access plays a role in success, especially at a young age," wrote Aditi Juneja, herself on Forbes' 30 Under 30 List which was published earlier this year. "I think lists/stories like this should include people’s debt as well as wealth for context."

In a lengthy thread, Juneja, like others who criticized the adjective "self-made," acknowledged that Jenner's work-ethic aside, it often takes much more than that to achieve great success. 

While we can't knock Kylie for her generous start in life—and let's not get it twisted, we commend her hard work, for sure—it does feel like a bit of a stretch to use the word "self-made." 

As Reynolds wrote, "As the youngest child of an already booming empire, Jenner grew up on television and was born into wealth; her struggles to get her business up and off the ground were eased greatly by her family’s wealth. Had Jenner been born into any other family to anyone other than Kris Jenner, a savage businesswoman with an eye for making money, who knows how successful Kylie would actually be?" 

At the end of the day, no one can really answer that question.

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