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The Paris Hilton Enigma: Empowered or Delusional?

Paris Hilton with Nicole Richie for The Simple Life | Credit: Fox

I’ve been thinking about Paris Hilton circa 2005 a lot lately. Hear me out.

I’m very torn about my feelings towards this enigma. Is she a feminist icon for her business savvy? Is she an incredibly genius woman who has kept up a character for over a decade, not breaking it once? Or is she really just as vapid as she comes across? Either way- that’s hot (sorry it took me a full three lines to drop that phrase in, sue me).

We all think we know Paris. She’s a socialite, ex-BFF of Nicole Richie and shot to fame after her sex tape was released, without her consent. In 2017, does this individual have a place in popular culture? It wouldn’t seem like it, no. Nowadays the majority of us only give a second’s thought to Paris when a #tbt pic is posted of her bitching at her then assistant, Kim K. But if she isn’t relevant, why is she still earning an estimated $1 million a night to DJ? I’m using DJ in the loosest sense of the word. Or releasing her 23rd perfume? TWENTY-THIRD. That’s literal insanity; no celebrity needs that many perfumes.

Anyway, I divulge. W magazine recently interviewed Paris where she essentially claimed ownership for everything: the selfie, reality TV, influencers. At first, I scoffed at the arrogance. Then I pondered and realised she was probably right.  Who am I to argue with someone who has twenty-three perfumes?

The Simple Life continually teetered on the lines of iconic and ironic. My problem was that Nicole always seemed like she was in on the joke, whereas Paris was often the punch line. Being so out of touch with reality was a funny escapism for us watching, but it was also concerning.

She is in that 1% of the US population, born into it and has established herself over the years. In the age of Trump, who FYI signed Paris to his modelling agency at 19, this fear of the out-of-touch, deluded celebrities having an influence over how the other 99% live has become reality. Re-watching episodes leave a sour taste in my mouth; Paris asking what a soup kitchen is makes me nauseous. I think it’s all a little too real.

Paris is quoted saying “Every woman should have four pets in her life. A mink in her closet, a jaguar in her garage, a tiger in her bed, and a jackass who pays for everything”. If Melania Trump was to ever say more than two words, my bet is on it being very similar to this. On the flip side, Paris has also said: “no matter what a woman looks like, if she’s confident, she’s sexy”. Gah, this is all too confusing.

Empowered or delusional? Naïve or dangerous? An entrepreneur or a puppet? Relevant or over? Who knows? Who cares (apart from me, evidently)? One thing we can all agree on is that Paris Hilton is and was a fashion icon. Anyone who can rock a pink velour tracksuit and a diamante choker with utter commitment is a star in my eyes (lol, geddit?).

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