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Back in the early aughts, before influencers were a thing, there were the It girls of pop culture: Lindsay Lohan. Xtina. And of course, Paris Hilton.
Neither the paparazzi nor the public could get enough of infamous heiress Hilton, known for her trademark catchphrase “That’s hot,” smash reality TV hit The Simple Life, and seemingly endless partying. But few people have been privy to the real Hilton, the woman behind the tabloid headlines and paparazzi shots. That is, until now.
In her new memoir, aptly titled Paris: The Memoir, Hilton opens up about her complicated story, and the many challenges she faced over the past two decades in the spotlight. It’s a story that undoubtedly cements her status as a female empowerment icon long before pop culture was friendly towards women like Hilton, so often written off as “famous for being famous.”
Forget everything you thought you knew about the pop culture phenomenon. Paris Hilton, feminist role model, is finally opening up.
Not Hot: The Old Paris Hilton Narrative
Hilton knows that the world has a preconceived notion of who she is, and in her own words, she is “so over that narrative.” One of the things that makes her memoir so refreshing and fascinating is the way that she’s able to rewrite her past, tossing out the story that we all thought we knew and replacing it with something different altogether.
And quite frankly, it’s time for a new narrative. Recent years have seen society grappling with its treatment of starlets such as Britney Spears and Megan Fox, and Hilton fits right in with that cadre of maligned young women treated as fodder for a ruthless tabloid machine. Her new memoir finally gives the world an inside look at what it took to survive such misogynistic and vicious media treatment (hint: a whole lot of guts, grace, and resilience).
It reveals the truth of who Hilton is – the truth that this pop culture legend is far more than she seems.
Surviving the Troubled Teen Industry
While the world was getting to know her for her tiny bedazzled outfits and cartoonish baby voice, Hilton herself was experiencing the hell of the “troubled teen industry,” a network of boarding schools and youth facilities that purport to treat behavioral issues in teens while actually subjecting them to isolation and abuse.
Hilton first revealed the truth about her experience at these boarding schools in her 2020 documentary This Is Paris. In the documentary, Hilton explains that initially, she was terrified to speak up about what she had gone through. But when she learned that thousands of children are still sent to these institutions each year, she knew she could remain silent no longer.
Her new memoir recounts how she has taken that advocacy even further, using her platform to change laws regarding the youth treatment industry in eight different states. Hilton has visited the White House and testified multiple times in support of legislation limiting institutions such as Provo Canyon School, which Hilton attended for 11 months.
Everyone faces obstacles and challenges in life, even the rich and famous. But to take such a negative experience and turn it into something good requires a level of strength and resilience that few possess. The candor and grace that Hilton writes with in her memoir is both rare, and incredibly striking.
Navigating Fame Before #MeToo
It’s not just her experience at abusive boarding schools that the media mogul is opening up about in her new memoir. She’s chosen to take the breathtaking honesty a step further by sharing her precarious journey through an early 2000s culture bent on humiliating and ripping apart young women – as well as her experiences with male predators, both in the industry and even before her fame.
For the first time, Hilton shares the story of how she found herself the victim of an adult man, not just once, but twice – first in eighth grade, then in high school. “That was something I didn’t tell anyone and didn’t speak about until I started writing my book,” Hilton said in an interview with Vogue.
This was long before the #MeToo movement, when there was no larger societal conversation about believing and supporting women. Beyond that, the attitude towards young women in the spotlight was almost always aggressive and malicious. Had Hilton opened up about her experiences a decade ago, she almost certainly wouldn’t have received the same response.
To disclose such personal experiences in an extremely candid and public way – well, that takes a lot of courage. And by sharing the traumatic experiences that happened to her as well as how she recovered from them, Hilton is paving the way for future generations of girls to be able to speak up about their own truths, and learn to recover from their own traumas.
Speaking Her Truth
Much of the memoir is Hilton speaking her truth about past relationships and tabloid headlines, exploring what really went on behind the scenes, and what she had to do to survive some of her worst moments. Like *that* infamous sex tape.
“I trusted someone that I was in a relationship with. I had my trust completely betrayed,” Hilton writes, describing how she was vilified by a misogynistic media cycle. It’s clear that this memoir is a place for Hilton to grapple with the power dynamics of her past relationships, and the unfair skewing of power that young women in general have to face as they navigate the world.
You don’t have to be a celebrity to appreciate Hilton’ message of positivity and strength while dealing with unbearable circumstances. The result of her candor is a starkly intimate message: The world may try to take your power from you, but that doesn’t mean you have to give it up.
Celebutante, DJ, Wife, Mom
One thing her new memoir makes clear is that Hilton wears many hats. The consummate socialite doesn’t just run multiple juggernaut businesses, including over a dozen perfume lines, handbag stores, and a media company. She’s also a recording artist, a DJ, and newly, a mom.
How does she do it all? Simple: She doesn’t let people put her into a box. “I was playing a character on The Simple Life,” Hilton once told DuJour Magazine. The Paris Hilton of reality is a bit different. As an Aquarius, she doesn’t mind the grind of a long workday. In fact, if her sprawling business empire is any indication, she might actually enjoy it.
And now, she isn’t just a businesswoman – she’s also a mother, with the release of Paris: The Memoir coinciding almost perfectly with the birth of her son. In a world that so often tries to put women into boxes, this message is refreshing. Don’t limit yourself. You might feel forced to choose between motherhood and a career, between being stylish and smart, but in reality, women can be whatever and whoever they want to be.
There’s also another message for ambitious young women hidden in the pages of Paris: The Memoir. Throughout the book, Hilton shares how she has constantly been underestimated throughout her life – first, because people thought she was just a rowdy teen, then because they saw her character on The Simple Life and thought that was who she was in real life.
Each time she stepped away from these false personas to pursue another business venture, people have underestimated and doubted her abilities. Yet she’s proved them wrong time and time again, successfully running multiple businesses and pivoting from one career to another.
Her memoir reveals the constant hard work Hilton has put in behind the scenes to become who she is today, and quite frankly, it’s remarkable. Whoever you thought Hilton was before – well, you’ve just seen the public facade that masks a truly remarkable woman.
Any woman who has been underestimated or doubted will be able to draw inspiration from her story of relentless optimism and self belief, even in the face of a public who very clearly did not think she had what it took to succeed.
Paris Hilton, Female Empowerment Icon
After twenty years in the spotlight, it’s time for the world to finally get to know the real Paris Hilton. With raw honesty, humor, and unexpected intimacy, Paris: The Memoir is the breathtaking story of a woman who has reclaimed her narrative and taken her power back.
It’s the story we’ve all been waiting for, and one that will undoubtedly inspire many generations of young women to come. To read the touching story for yourself, purchase a copy here.
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