Just a few days ago Kylie Jenner was labeled by Forbes as the youngest self-made billionaire which rightfully invited tons of criticism, and questioning the self-made label being she was already wealthy to begin with. To add fuel to the fire, it was reported soon after that Pat McGrath’s makeup line, Pat McGrath Labs, is now valued at $1 billion, which out values Kylie Cosmetics.
This situation has brought an onslaught of questions, some of which are: What are the parameters of being self-made? What will it take for Black women to get the recognition we deserve? For the former, I think it’s important that we remember in this capitalistic society and economy, that “self-made” is a myth that we continue to carry on to make ourselves feel better about our come up. We use the term to avoid giving people who helped us the credit they deserve because it makes us feel we didn’t work hard enough for our success.
The success of the wealthy is achieved off of the backs of poorer people. It always comes at the expense of someone else whether we realize it or not. Many of the products we own have been created or sourced by people living in developing countries that earn 50 cents an hour so the only way to get wealthy is to exploit someone along the way. In the game of capitalism, someone is always on the bottom, it doesn’t work any other way.
Now if we go back to using the definition of “self-made” (that completely ignores the smaller details and exploitation that occurs during the process of accumulating wealth) and instead focus on getting almost everything done yourself, it’s fair to say that between Pat McGrath and Kylie Jenner, Pat is the real self-made person in this scenario. Pat McGrath went from working as a receptionist to entering the beauty/fashion world then slowly building herself up over the years from her unique talent in makeup artistry.