Split Opinions On Being Self-Made

Iveth Vanegas, Reporter


On March 5 2019, Forbes Magazine labeled Kylie Jenner as the youngest self-made billionaire ever, but what defines someone as self-made. Forbes Magazine created a self-made score, ranking those who grew from nothing at 10, the highest, and those who inherited a business and put in little or no work, at 1.  Kylie Jenner ranked 7 on this scoring system, but it brought up a debate on whether Jenner could be classified as self-made or not, because, she had her family fame and fortune to bring recognition. 

According to Forbes, an American business magazine, being self-made means someone who built a company or established a fortune on their own, rather than inheriting all of it. 

“To me, being self-made means kind of starting from the bottom up, but really not having any of it handed to you,” graphic design teacher Tracy Cunningham said. “I think it’s totally OK to get help, but really and truly it’s you that did it. You’re the one that found the answers, you’re the one that solved the problems.” 

Others correlate self-made with how the business entity is established. 

“Being self-made to me means basically that you just start off on your own. In business terms, that’s what we call self proprietorship,” junior Laura Vu said. “Basically, you’re on your own and you’re risking everything on the line. Being self-made is you relying on yourself but with the advice and help of others, of course, but you ultimately take all of the risks.” 

According to USA Today, an American daily newspaper, Twitter users mainly agree that Jenner is not a self-made billionaire, for many reasons. Some argued that Jenner only leveraged her fame, fortune and family name. One tweet stated that Jenner’s fortune doesn’t compare to others’  because her starting point came from a wealthy, connected family.

“I think that she definitely used the fame that she got from being Kim Kardashian’s sister to kind of start up all of her stuff,” Cunningham said. “But if all of that stuff didn’t happen, then she never would’ve probably became who she is.”

According to Business Insider, an American financial and business news website, Jenner used $250,000 to start up her cosmetics company, Kylie Cosmetics. The money Jenner used was from brand sponsorships and deals that her mother helped her secure during her teenage years. By launching her own company, Jenner was able to create her own company that recently sold to Coty Inc for $600 million. 

“Some might argue that she already had the platform because of her family fame, and that’s something that I wouldn’t really consider self-made,” Vu said. “But as the years went on, and she started making her own brand recognition for herself, I think that’s when she started becoming self made.”

According to Forbes, Oprah Winfrey ranked 10th on the self-made score list. Unlike Jenner, most agree she’s a self-made billionaire, not only because she grew up poor, but also because she overcame significant obstacles like coming from a childhood of physical and sexual abuse.

“I think self-made is a perspective and subjective on how a person is brought up and how they worked towards a more prospective lifestyle, because obviously compared to Kylie Jenner, Oprah didn’t have that luxurious platform before she started up,” Vu said. “I think Winfrey’s way of self starting and working hard is what made her self-made.”

Others view celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce and Leonardo DiCaprio, as being self-made because they all came from a family of poverty and built themselves up by themselves.

“I’m also going to throw into that, Ellen DeGeneres, I think she’s very self-made with a lot of the stuff that she’s done and how she’s branded herself and how she has her own standards and how she holds everyone to it,” Cunningham said.

Jenner and Winfrey invite a large split in opinions because Jenner had a far different upbringing compared to Winfrey. Unlike Winfrey, Jenner was born into wealth and recognition through her family’s empire. 

“There is a difference because when you’re starting with nothing, like Oprah.” Vu said. “Making your way up to the very top to one of the richest women in the world, that’s something that you can’t really compare to someone like Kylie Jenner.”