Image: Forbes

Kylie Jenner, the youngest of Kris Jennerā€™s brood of wealthy ladies, is on the cover of Forbes, dressed in a sharp-shouldered blazer like a small child playing dress up, smiling an inscrutable grin. The accompanying article promises to tell us how Kylie Jenner made almost $900 million in three years. To their credit, Kris Jennerā€™s name shows up nine times.

What the piece does contain are soft truths about how Kylie made the $900 million fortune that landed her on the cover. The cosmetics company she launched two years ago with just a lip kit has blossomed into an empire, which Forbes values at $800 million, and Jenner is the sole owner of the company, meaning sheā€™s a very wealthy woman. But she does owe much of her ā€œself-madeā€ wealth to her mother, Kris Jenner, whose evil genius for marketing her children and creating a capitalist empire around their image deserves far more shine here.

Jennerā€™s cosmetics empire is nothing to sneeze at and itā€™s clear why sheā€™s the cover of this Forbes package, which features other self-made women like Oprah Winfrey, Meg Whitman, Tory Burch, and Diane Hendricks, a 71-year-old billionaire from Wisconsin who runs a roofing, siding, and windows empire. However, the definition of ā€œself-madeā€ and what it means in relation to the women on this list seems to be a matter of semantics.

Self-made as a phrase conjures a Horatio Alger-esque vision of a woman rising from nothing and clawing her way to the top through hard work, perseverance, and gritā€”starting from the bottom and ending up at the glittering professional peak. While Jennerā€™s cosmetics empire is indeed her doing, she was hardly a scrappy little thing. As the youngest child of an already booming empire, Jenner grew up on television and was born into wealth; her struggles to get her business up and off the ground were eased greatly by her familyā€™s wealth. Had Jenner been born into any other family to anyone other than Kris Jenner, a savage businesswoman with an eye for making money, who knows how successful Kylie would actually be?

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The ideas behind her cosmetics company were purely her own, but the guiding hand that steered her in the right direction was none other than her momager, who pockets a tidy 10 percent of her childrenā€™s earnings. The sisters deserve the credit, too, but donā€™t be fooled by this framing.