Kylie Jenner Is About More Than The Gossip

“Above her, beneath her, and around her, the Machine hummed eternally; she didn’t notice the noise, for she had been born with it in her ears.” E.M. Forster, The Machine Stops

There’s always been something about Kylie Jenner that fascinated me. Although all of her sisters have grown up in the spotlight, as the youngest, nobody’s experienced celebrity quite like Kylie. In an interview with US Weekly, Kylie remarked, “I don’t remember how it was before [I was famous] because I was
 nine when this all started. So it’s kind of like I grew up into it. It’s kind of like I don’t know anything different.” Consequently, when it came to growing up, nobody’s had it quite as hard as Kylie. In the past year alone, the rumors circulating about the eighteen-year-old and her lips, her boyfriend, her car, her hair and her body have been staggering. Every day, it seems like there’s something new to speculate about.

As I was reading Tom Wolfe’s A Man In Full this morning over a cup of coffee and a freshly baked blueberry donut, I came across a passage that instantly reminded me of Jenner, “If a false rumor about you is printed once, you can shrug it off as gossip. But if it’s printed twice, it becomes an accepted fact. That’s the age we live in.” Even though that book was written in 1998, the same is true today. But what does it mean when the gossip surrounding you isn’t just printed twice, but thousands, if not millions of times?  And what happens when that gossip becomes malicious, and crosses the line into bullying?

While all of this would be enough to send most 18-year-olds into a spiral of shame and depression, somehow Kylie Jenner manages to not only rise above the criticism, but also use her celebrity to assure her 34.6 million Instagram followers that “the only opinion that really matters is yours” and “to never change”. And thanks to her recent anti-bullying social media campaign entitled #IAmMoreThan, people are finally starting to notice that Kylie Jenner is more than the gossip, and stronger than they might think.


Kylie Jenner and her sister Kendall, as young teenagers

On September 1, Kylie announced that for the next six days, she would “be sharing stories of 6 incredible people who have becomes heroes in their own way by taking bullying and turning it into something positive.” In those six days we’ve met Renee DuShane, a 21-year-old college student who was born with Pfieffer Syndrome (a genetic disorder where the facial bones are unable to fuse correctly, resulting in a deformed jaw), Erica Schenk, the world’s first plus size model to be featured on the cover of a fitness magazine, Jacob and Anthony, best friends who went to prom together even though one was “hella gay” and the other was “hella str8”, and Lizzie Velasquez, who had garnered the unfortunate nickname of ‘the world’s ugliest woman’ by the time she was only 17.

And then, things got personal. Opening up Kylie said, “People are quick to say horrible things about me everyday over and over and sometimes I can’t take it. Even I at times get affected by it, I breakdown, I hide, I cry. It’s resulted in a lot of anxiety for me that I’ve never had to deal with before ever. My every move has been documented for the whole world and its been a nightmare trying to find myself through all of this. And I’ve absolutely lost a part of myself.”

Despite all of her worldly possessions, all of her clothes, makeup, hair extensions, wigs and Instagram followers, at the end of the day, Kylie’s just an eighteen-year-old girl, struggling to fit in and stand out at the same time. Just because she’s a celebrity doesn’t make her impervious to gossip.


Kylie Jenner today, Getty Images

But just like the six inspiring stories, what defines Kylie Jenner isn’t the mean things people have said about her, or even the “mistakes” she may have made over the years, but how she’s recovered from them. The truth is, there’s more about Kylie Jenner to celebrate than there is to criticize. In addition to taking a stand against bullying, launching a successful clothing line with her sister and co-penning a novel, for the past four years, Kylie Jenner has been financially independent from her family. “I pay for everything – my car, my gas, and food, as well as my clothes.” By the time you were 18, what had you accomplished? Was it even half that much? Was it even a quarter?

Come to think of it, maybe the reason why everybody likes to gossip about Kylie so much is because they’re just jealous. In Cooper Lawrence’s book Cult of Celebrity, he suggests that we like to see celebrities fail and flounder because we feel it “serves him or her right for not being more like us.” Elaborating he says:

“They parade by us with their entourage, with all of their bling, living a life of glitz and glamour. We are aware of all the expensive designer outfits they own, because we see them wearing them in magazines and on TV…they travel around the world on dream vacations and seem to spend every night in exclusive clubs and restaurants. It all looks so posh. We want that life, and we envy celebrities for having it.”

Especially when all they had to do to earn it was be born.

I’ve heard it said, that when you speak your mind, it gives you strength. And now that Kylie’s spoken up, all we can do is listen and try to give her what she so desperately needs: a little time, and a little space to finish growing up.  Surely, we can give her that little, can’t we?


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