It’s hard to feel bad for a teenage multimillionaire. It’s even harder to feel empathetic toward that teenager if she’s Kylie Jenner and you watch her over-the-top life unfold on a reality show or endless Snapchats. But Kylie got the short end of the stick in a lot of ways, and I think she deserves at least some of our compassion.
When Keeping Up with the Kardashians first aired, Kylie was 9 years old. That means she was in 4th grade. Before she ever understood what the word even meant, she was signed up for a lifetime of scrutiny and judgment.
Sure, the opportunities and checks came, too, but when you remember that her mom Kris Jenner manages her and her famous family, you start to wonder if all of those opportunities were things she wanted to do or she had to do. Every time we see Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, Kendall or Kylie anywhere, it means that Kris acted as their manager first and as their mom second. And even if it’s only for 10 minutes, forming that relationship with your mom from age 9 can’t be an easy thing to deal with as you grow up.
Khloé, and the entire family, jokes that Kim is Kris’ favorite because she makes the most money off Kim. They all pretend it’s just for laughs, but you get the feeling there is some truth to what they’re saying. And Kylie has been picking up on that for the most impressionable years of her life.
On top of this really confusing relationship with her mom, Kylie also watched the parent who created as close to a normal life as she was ever going to get make a dramatic transformation in front of the world. Kylie experienced all the emotions that came with Caitlyn Jenner’s transition in front of everyone. She had to hear every ignorant comment (and there were plenty) thrown at her hero and try not to lash out. She couldn’t waver in her support or understanding of a complex issue or she would be the target of hate.
She did all of this before she turned 18.
If I had any one of these things happen to me when I was 18, lip injections would have been the least of my parents’ worries.
Certainly, having millions of dollars and getting to do cool things like creating a fashion line makes these blows a little softer, but none of it kept Kylie from experiencing some of the effects of a uniquely complicated childhood. She’s still a human. She’s still an 18-year-old trying to figure herself out. So the next time you think about rolling your eyes at her antics, or writing her off as just another famous-for-nothing celebrity, remember that she’s a teenager who’s been through a lot and never asked for any of it.
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