King Kylie

There have been so many headlines about Kylie Jenner, we can’t come up with an original one; which really says a lot about our obsession with her…

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

There have been so many headlines about Kylie Jenner, we can’t come up with an original one; which really says a lot about our obsession with her… 

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Go on, admit it, you have an opinion on Kylie Jenner. You love her. You hate her. You love her lip kit. You don’t understand why she’s famous. You’re not sure why she’s on our cover. You’re not sure why it took us so long.

Isn’t it weird that we all have an opinion on the youngest of the Kardashians/Jenners and yet, of all of the clan, we probably know the least about her?

She doesn’t play out her relationships on the show, and her Instagram and Snapchat are carefully curated; even she’s admitted that.

Growing up under the heat of the media spotlight has made her savvy. In a lot of ways, her trajectory resembles that of the Olsen Twins, who also became stars at the age of nine; churning out TV shows all through their teens and developing into fashion icons. There’s something about watching someone through their (famous-person version of ) awkward years that makes you feel like you grew up with them; that you know them more intimately than you really do. 

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The pre-game

Until she was nine, Kylie Jenner was just your average(ish) kid. Her dad, then known as Bruce Jenner, was famous enough that she and Kendall got to attend the occasional movie premiere. Her mum, Kris, made them dress in matching outfits for their Christmas cards every year. She had her first kiss with no one around but her then-best friend Zoe.

“He was one of the hot ones in fourth grade, and yeah, I definitely had a crush on him. Zoe was like, ‘Just do it!’ It was an innocent peck. Right on the lips. And it was funny and awkward, probably like every other first kiss,” Kylie told Allure in July 2016.

Then came Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Kylie says she agreed to be a part of the show at the time – but of course, none of them believed it would become the juggernaut that it did.

The side effects of fame emerged swiftly after the premiere in October 2007. Kylie revealed to Interview in December 2015 that “pretty much ever since I was 9, since the show started, there’s been so much bullying towards me... It was in person, too. Just friends growing up. We were all young, and I always felt like people weren’t friends with me for the right reasons, and they would be like, ‘You know everyone is just friends with you because you’re famous,’ or just weird stuff. I had a lot of friend issues throughout the years.”

Of course, bullying is basically a rite of passage for most of us. It’s such a significant part of our formative years that they made the movie Mean Girls about it. Chances are, you were bullied too at one point or another, and if you were, it probably affected you a little. Maybe your posture isn’t as good as it was before you tried to make yourself invisible as a teen; or maybe you have a hard time trusting people.

But it probably wasn’t on Kylie’s scale. People all around the world were able to access her, and tell her exactly what they thought. Given this, should we be surprised it would affect her more drastically too?

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Social issues

Kylie was more open when she was younger, especially during the height of social media platform Keek’s popularity. “My Keek days were wild,” she says. “I showed everyone my funny and crazy side.” And that’s when people started to attack. “When people bully you about what you want to do, or for being silly and funny, it makes you not want to be silly and funny anymore. I started to lose a lot of myself, pieces about myself that I liked the most,” she revealed to Complex in the October/ November 2016 issue.

Unsurprisingly, this pressure caused her to suffer from anxiety. A few years ago, it got really bad. “If I tried to go to the movies or something, I would stop breathing in the middle and just cry. I’m surprised there aren’t videos of me out there. I felt super trapped, like everybody was watching me. I felt like everyone was hating on me,” she shared with Complex. Now, she has a host of tools to help her deal with it – one of which, we assume, is being wary about what she shares.

Today, she’s ironically candid about how staged her social media persona is. “People think that since we have a reality TV show and I show so much of my life that they know who I am. But on Snapchat, I show people what I think they want to see... That’s not me. It’s a projected image. A brand. I’m not a different person. I just don’t show all of me,” she told Allure. That’s not to say she’s not involved – it’s just in a more guarded way. “Everyone knows when I’m releasing a product on Snapchat that I will be MIA for the next hour-and-a-half. I’m running around my house, finding the perfect lighting, the perfect swatches. My housekeeper, I use her arm for my Snapchats. She has the best arm for swatches. She’s so nice and just sits there and has her arm ready and lets me do my thing. I care a lot about what my products look like when people first see them,” she told Fast Company in June 2017. 

The Kylie effect

The funny thing is, the more Kylie retreated from sharing herself, the more people seemed to want to know. She is a well-dressed enigma wrapped in the hair extensions of mystery.

There’s a ton of YouTube videos, one with 4.3 million views, dedicated to what it’s really like meeting Kylie Jenner. For the record, much like the views on Kylie herself, there seems to be a sliding scale from “the crowd was chanting ‘bitch’” to “OMG, IT WAS THE BEST DAY EVEERRRRRRR”.

Are we fascinated by her because we feel we have a right to know what’s going on in her life? We made her famous, after all – we watched her grow up, and we support her business by liking her pictures and buying her product collaborations. Or are we drawn to the fact that she’s so hard to figure out?

For one, Kylie is the owner of a cosmetics company... who told Interview that she hates wearing makeup. “Lately, I’ve just been so over it. I feel like I’m way too young to wear such heavy makeup all the time... but I’m always doing photo shoots or red carpets and events, so I just obviously want to look good,” she said.

Even magazines that feature her seem to be conflicted – covers oscillate between amping up “Kylie ” or attempting to find “The Real Kylie” by stripping down her makeup.

We watched her learn about puberty from Khloe on TV, and she’s happy to tell you that her boobs get bigger when she’s on her period. But she won’t tell you the ins and out of her and Tyga’s relationship the way Kourtney spills about Scott.

So who’s the real Kylie? Enter: Life of Kylie, her new docu-series that promises to show us who she really is – how involved she is with Kylie Cosmetics (answer: very) and what she’s like with her friends. Even so, you can’t help but wonder if maybe even Kylie doesn’t know. “There’s an image I’m constantly pressured to keep up with,” she says. Is she really ready to be vulnerable? Everyone tuning in is obviously hoping so. But the one thing you can guarantee: the show will give you some damn good outfit inspo

Images TPG/Click Photos.