Kylie Jenner believes that being a star in the world of social media requires a certain level of skill when it comes to filtering.
I had the pleasure of meeting Kylie Jenner for lunch at the Sunset Marquis in West Hollywood. The restaurant’s patio was brightly lit and bustling with people, which made finding a discreet table at the back a top priority. At first, the manager, Lance, mistook me for an advance man sent by Jenner’s team to ensure her comfort. Once I clarified that I was there as a magazine writer, we settled into our table to get started. Jenner, the 18-year-old reality TV star from Keeping Up With the Kardashians, boasts a whopping 63 million followers on Instagram and 16 million followers on Twitter. Her recent split from rapper Tyga has been a hot topic on gossip sites and her Lip Kits continue to sell out within minutes despite a scandal involving theft and empty boxes being delivered.
Jenner surprisingly walks over to my table alone, without any entourage, paparazzi, or fans. After greeting me with kindness, she proposes that we grab a bite to eat. Unlike most interviews with celebrities, where the main aim is to uncover the person behind their fame, both of us are trying to figure out who the genuine Kylie Jenner is. Recently, #WhoIsKylieJenner has been trending on Twitter following her Snapchat post about the distinction between Kylie The Brand and Kylie The Actual Person. This has sparked reactions from both her fans and haters, but Jenner clarifies that what she portrays on social media is merely an image of herself projected, not her complete self. She believes that people only see what she thinks they want to see, such as her family, luxury cars, and mansions. The reality TV star explains that she isn’t a different person, but she chooses to keep certain aspects of herself private.
Even with all the success and wealth, a person’s sensitivity cannot be erased, and they can still feel vulnerable to criticism. Kylie Jenner openly admits that she hasn’t shown her true self to the world due to the fear of being judged. Instead, she has created a separate character called “Kylie The Brand” and focuses on promoting that image. Even when people criticize her brand, she is aware that it doesn’t reflect her true personality. Therefore, she is careful not to reveal her genuine self to the public and prefers to keep the hashtag #WhoIsKylieJenner trending. Despite this, she generously shared some glimpses of her real life during our conversation and provided insight into what it’s like being a teenage celebrity under constant media attention. Most importantly, Kylie Jenner yearns for a normal life amidst all the chaos that comes with her fame.
Jenner is thankful and satisfied with her current life, specifically highlighting her excitement for having the opportunity to pursue her passion of creating a cosmetic line through her platform. Despite being young, her ambitions are understandable and acceptable. Her fame is not intended to be permanent, as she aims to eventually settle down and start a family. Jenner admits to being emotional and easily moved to tears during sentimental moments, such as reconnecting with an old friend or watching touching scenes on TV. While she does plan to have children in the future, there is no set timeline for this yet.
Jenner has put in tremendous effort to attain her status as a mega-rich individual, even though she was born into a wealthy family. She credits her mother for instilling a strong work ethic in her, which drives her to constantly think about her next project or endorsement. Although her work often involves glamorous events like music awards and the Met Gala, Jenner rarely gets any free time. With constant photo shoots, parties, plane rides, and social media posts, what may appear exciting and fun to others is just another workday for Jenner. Despite the overwhelming pace, Jenner flourishes under the constant grind and wouldn’t prefer doing anything else with her days.
She still exudes charm and a touch of wistfulness. I asked her about her very first kiss, and her eyes lit up as she began to tell the story. The lucky boy was a certain Matthew McGraw, and they were both fourth-graders. Jenner and her best friend Zoe were hanging out in the front yard when it happened. Matt was one of the cool kids, and Jenner had a bit of a crush on him. Zoe urged her to go for it, and they shared a sweet, innocent kiss right on the lips. It was funny and awkward, just like any other first kiss. As she reminisced, Jenner seemed transported back to a time before the Kardashian fame that would change her life forever.
As time has moved forward, she and Matthew have remained close friends, yet they never pursued a romantic relationship. Whenever someone inquires about his whereabouts, there’s a hint of yearning in her voice as she reveals that he’s now pursuing the same path she once considered – college. Her ultimate aspiration isn’t to gain more fame, fortune, or social media followers, but to attain authentic happiness. Despite the influence of social media, which enabled her to garner a colossal fan base and successfully sell her Lip Kits, she acknowledges that she must work diligently now because her stint in the limelight may be momentary. Unlike others still striving for the triumphs she achieved long ago, growing up in the spotlight has shaped her perspective on what truly brings contentment. She admits to being an extraordinary case since she cannot recall what it feels like not to be well-known. As such, she prioritizes genuine happiness over fleeting pleasures like possessing new automobiles or other material possessions. Authentic happiness, in her view, equates to “being surrounded by your loved ones,” with family taking precedence over everything else.
Jenner encounters daily hurdles that present immense difficulty, but she draws comfort from her kin. Her older siblings and Kanye West, her brother-in-law, have also encountered various challenging situations. The revelation of Caitlyn Jenner’s gender identity in 2015 was a significant moment in their tumultuous lives. Nonetheless, Kylie had already witnessed her father wearing women’s clothing when they were young, and thus, the news was not a surprise to her. Caitlyn informed the family of her plans when she believed her daughters were prepared to comprehend. Kylie supported her father and urged her to live life according to her wishes. Jenner is proud of her father’s public transformation, which has positively influenced society. Despite Jenner’s life being constantly scrutinized, her family continues to shower her with love and acceptance. During our discussion, I come to realize that my choice of sitting near the women’s restroom was a rookie error, and women passing by glance twice or stare. Jenner recognizes that her life is akin to a reality show, with cameras perpetually aimed at her, including social media posts and paparazzi lenses. To sum up, Jenner’s life is comparable to a twisted sequel of Truman Show, where she is aware every second of every day.
Before Jenner departs, I spot a minuscule spider resting on the table and decide to inquire about her thoughts regarding these arachnids. The dialogue swiftly transforms into a conflict between Kylie The Business and Kylie The Individual. At first, Jenner provides a standard PR-approved response, mentioning that she captures spiders and sets them free outside. However, when I probe for additional information, the genuine Kylie comes to the forefront. She concedes that although she endeavours not to harm spiders, she used kitchen cleaning products to eliminate a black widow in her garage. Her prime concern was safeguarding her canines from being poisoned by the spider’s lethal venom.