I first met Paris Hilton watching The Simple Life. My first impression of her was, “WOW, she is rich!” I remember seeing her face everywhere in the early 2000s. Paris Hilton was The Kardashians before there was such a thing as Kim or Kylie. Arguably, the ‘first’ influencer as well. Every Instagram superstar has followed her diamond blueprint.
I am ashamed to say I also thought she was a bimbo back then. I think we all did, but her alluring personality still hooked us. She did what everybody wanted to do at that time — Be themselves and get paid for It.
Her voice, although not real, was iconic. The phrase, “That’s hot” built her a brand. And her brand built her an empire.
As I got older, I heard less and less about her, but many others took her place. Leaked sex-tapes became the road map to success. And taking photos of yourself, which was then deemed selfish, became the selfie. But unlike most celebrities, Paris’s journey wasn’t calculated, it was real. Her leak sex-tapes came from revenge porn and her rise to fame was her escape from trauma.
In the height of Paris Hilton’s fame, we never knew the real her. We thought she was just some super rich-girl, but she was more than that she was a soul aching to be free.
Paris Hilton’s documentary This is Paris gives us a glimpse of the real-life of a socialite turn megastar. I want to pause here and tell you this documentary isn’t what one might think — what we saw then was not the reality.
As told by Paris, she created this “mask” — the voice, the costumes, rhinestones, and jewelry — perfection to find freedom from trauma.
In the documentary, we see a woman struggling to reclaim her life and to get past her 15-year-old identity. As someone who has dealt with trauma, I identify with Paris’s need to wear a mask and keep up a facade.
We also see Paris struggle with her relationship with her parents and their choices to send her to “personal-growth” schools to straighten her up. Those schools were meant to help Paris and other teenagers. However, instead, they were riddled with predatory adults, physical and sexual abuse, and neglect.
We also see Paris go back forth with her identity, speaking in her iconic voice in some scenes and then speaking in her real voice (deep and sure of herself). It can be confusing to the audience, as we don’t know which Paris she actually wants to be.
Although the film is dusted with glitter and expensive glare, there is a melancholic feeling intertwining with Paris’s story and her smile. At any moment, I thought she was going to break into pieces, but she held it together and only allowed us to a see glimpse of who she really is and could become.
Paris is not like what we have thought and we owe her a huge apology. Her reliance when it comes to abuse and exploitation should be celebrated. In addition to her becoming a successful businesswoman and an advocate for all teenage girls who have been abused by adults that they trusted, Paris is using her voice to give others a chance to heal.
I like this Paris Hilton. And even if she doesn’t change completely, she did something that a lot of people don’t do. She spoke up.