Paris Hilton: an influencer’s impact on society

Illustration is by Marina Difranco

She was the original influencer: a socialite, model, actress and businesswoman all in one. A paparazzi darling, reality show star and a staple of Page Six. It seems like the entire world knows her, yet no one does. She has given the world everything and nothing at all. Paris Hilton is a paradox that is still redefining our definition of fame today.

When people think of Hilton, they probably think of an airheaded rich girl. She has money, fame and beauty. By projecting this image of herself to the world, Hilton built an empire of adoring fans and intrigued onlookers. She has walked on runways, starred in reality shows, launched beauty lines, DJ-ed at raves and more. 

While she didn’t invent the “dumb blonde” persona, Hilton certainly popularized it. She became a mirror for a society that views young women as naive and inherently less smart. From her catchphrase “that’s hot” to her other memorable reality TV moments, she took the “party-girl heiress” stereotype and used it to amass more fame and money than she already had as a member of the Hilton family dynasty. 

But Hilton isn’t as simple as she appears. Behind the designer clothes, spray tan and raspy voice is a woman who has never been documented by the press. 

“The whole world thinks they know because I’ve been playing this character for so long,” Hilton said. “No one really knows me.”

In her new documentary “This is Paris,” Hilton reveals her true identity. After years of maintaining the persona of a ditzy party girl, she is ready to show the world who she really is: an intelligent, business-driven woman with a past she is finally ready to reveal to the world.

Not only did Hilton speak her truth about her identity, but she blew the lid off the “troubled teen” industry and her personal story of boarding school abuse. As a teenager, she was a regular at behavioral schools for young girls. These campuses often employ physical, sexual and mental abuse to control and punish those who stay at them. Hilton revealed that she was beaten, verbally abused and put in solitary confinement by the employees of Provo Canyon School. Other celebrities, including Drew Barrymore, have confirmed the horrors that young women said to have experienced at reformatory schools.

After she turned 18, Hilton left the school and never told anyone about her experience, including her parents. She put on a mask and never showed what she perceived as weakness to the world. Instead, she invented a new persona and sold it to the public. 

Nearly two decades later, Hilton has decided to speak out against the horrors of these boarding schools and team up with the Breaking Code Silence movement. Alongside her classmates at Provo Canyon School, Hilton is standing against abuse and giving victims a platform to tell their stories. 

  Hilton played a role that convinced the public she was a vapid woman with no substance. While it served the purpose she intended at the time, it is time for the real Paris to come out. Now, she is taking control of her image and re-introducing herself after 20 years of fame. 

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Hi, I’m Maria McGinnis, a senior journalism student from Stow, Ohio. I’m also the editor in chief of A Magazine. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty, and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.

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