Paris grew up having no instruction except the television series and movies she watched and the fairytales spun by her cartoonish family: that the Hiltons were American royalty, she was beautiful, money could buy anything, people were to be manipulated, she was better than other people who were here on earth to be her audience and servants.
She was unschooled in anything but being the performative, smiling, dancing, partying, shameless blonde, who would change her outfits four times a day, and say or wear anything.
In the years before Instagram, she became the first influencer. Paris herself became the marketplace; she made billions. Famous for being famous, a phrase possibly invented for Paris Hilton, is accurate.
Born into the hollowness of her family, as ignorant as she was entitled, Paris has fictionalised herself. As we all do, if we have any courage. But for her, it took more than ordinary courage. She has flung herself at life, decided that there is nothing she cannot do, used her manic energy, a naturally sweet nature (was Alexis in Schitt’s Creek modelled on her?) and her uncanny ability to understand tech in the world, to try to become someone other than the name and family she was born into. Although, it has to be said, using the name and the money every step of the way. Oh, well. Life is layered.
At 42 she has undergone therapy and takes medication for ADHD, she is starting to understand herself and her past sometimes unspeakable behaviour. “I don’t just love fun. I need fun. Fun is my jet fuel.” She’s blissfully partnered, has become a mother, through IVF, and she has become a vocal advocate for children like herself who were abused by institutions. She also reflects what the words Feminism and shame might mean.
I felt I was talking to an extraordinary 12-year-old as I read; funny, sharp, observant all put in at speed and in patois so contemporary I often didn’t know who was who or what the acronyms stood for.
But what must it have taken for Paris Hilton, renowned for sexuality, to confess that she never understood or enjoyed sex, thought it all a performance? And to confess, in the alarming world that is contemporary America, that she had an abortion? She’s right when she says she’s no longer the cartoon character that she was.
Hilton is still negotiating who she is, but she’s thoughtful and brilliant in her unique way, a woman who has a lot to say and will be heard.