We will probably never know for sure if, in fact, Kylie Jenner had plastic surgery to alter the curves of her made-for-Instagram visage. The 21-year-old makeup mogul and new mom is one of PAPER’s covers for this month’s theme of Transformation. And it is undeniable that Jenner transformed from the youngest, lesser-known member of the Kardashian-Jenner family to arguably its most famous face.
In an interview with PAPER’s Katherine Gillespie, Jenner is casual and (perhaps strategically) candid about the plastic surgery speculation. “People think I fully went under the knife and completely reconstructed my face, which is completely false,” she says. “I’m terrified! I would never. They don’t understand what good hair and makeup and, like, fillers, can really do.”
While it’s fun to speculate exactly what kind of work Jenner has had done, as Gillespie hints at, it really doesn’t matter outside of our own lurid interest. Even though the young almost-billionaire is selling herself—and in some not-so-abstract sense, her face—she’s really just a (famous, rich) girl selling makeup.
“Makeup is something that makes me feel empowered, makes me feel good, and I think it’s such a positive thing,” she says at the end of the interview. “There’s no harm in playing around with it and feeling good about yourself.”
It was November 2015 that Jenner launched her first Kylie Lip Kit, a $29 duo of liquid lipstick and matching lip pencil. She tells PAPER that she “never did any consumer research” she just “followed her heart.”
“I just knew for myself as a customer, like, why am I buying a lip liner and a different lipstick? I wanted it the same color, I wanted it to be easy,” she says in the interview. “And I really spent every last dime that I had starting it, not even knowing if it would be successful.”
And for the critics who say that she’s not the self-made billionaire the Forbes cover makes her out to be, Jenner disagrees—but she’s also aware of her Kardashian privilege. Her parents cut her off age 15, she says, and haven’t given her a “single cent” since then.
Much like the rest of the clan, criticism seems to somehow be both aimed directly at the Kardashians while hovering just outside an untouchable fascination. The questionable diet pill sponsored content or the idea that maybe she’s selling a transformation not easily attainable without a lot of money are somehow brushed aside because, at the end of the day, Jenner is, in essence, not pretending to be anyone she’s not.
She is “just trying to set a good example” for her fans, she says. She’s on track to become the youngest self-made billionaire ever, and with a company valued at almost $800 million that she owns 100% of. While she may not be self-made in the rags-to-riches sense, she is very much a self who has been made—a transformation to aspire to.