Words: Chloe Watts
Content warning: This article contains mentions of abuse.
The latest instalment of content from YouTube Originals sees a never-before-revealed insight into the life of socialite-turned-businesswoman, Paris Hilton. The one hour and forty-five-minute documentary, aptly titled This Is Paris, is a lot to unpack and touches on everything from her upbringing as the oldest child in the prestigious Hilton family, to her time as the first reality TV star, and leveraging that status to create a multi-million-dollar business.
While Hilton is well known for adventurous escapades in her younger days, from that tape to the breakout reality show, The Simple Life, there is a side to the star that the public doesn’t know. Watching the documentary, it’s clear to see Hilton is a complex product of rarely being told no, feeling the weight of expectation on her shoulders as a young woman and experiencing traumatic events in her formative years.
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Hilton explains how her life dramatically changed when she was 13 and the family moved to New York City. She was the new girl at school and was bullied relentlessly. On top of this, her parents placed a high priority on being in the New York social scene. This saw Paris and sister, Nicky Hilton-Rothschild take etiquette classes and complete debutante engagements but restricted from participating in things teenage socialites do in their down time. “Our parents were so worried about their reputation” Nicky revealed.
This pressure saw Paris rebel, she started sneaking out to party at New York clubs at 14 and even let her pet snake lose to roam the halls of the Waldorf-Astoria. But it all came to a head when she was 17 years old. During this moment in the documentary, Paris recounts the forceful removal from her family home in the middle of the night by strangers. She was to be taken to an emotional growth school. Screaming out for her parents, the lasting effect of this late-night abduction has stayed with her subconscious and leaves the fragrance mogul with insomnia and reoccurring nightmares.
While at Provo Canyon School, Hilton was allegedly subjected to unnecessary medications, abuse and placed naked, in solitary confinement for a period of 20 hours. She recalls the staff mentally and emotionally breaking down every part of her until she no longer knew who she was.
Fast forward to 19, the socialite touches on the infamous sex tape. Still clearly affected by the shitstorm that was the aftermath of its leaking, Hilton revealed “it was a private moment with a teenage girl, not in the right headspace. And everyone was watching and laughing like it was something funny. It was my first real relationship and I just wanted to make him happy”. It’s not a far-fetched reality though. “If it happened today, it would not be the same story at all” the star explains, and she’s 100 percent correct. One recent example is the accidental release of Chris Evans’ nudes, though not a single media outlet re-shared the screenshots.
For those that still think the tape was an orchestrated move to make the heiress famous, it wasn’t. “People thought it was a blueprint to becoming famous, but I didn’t need to do that” Hilton explained, “I always had a plan.”
Throughout the documentary, Hilton’s sister Nicky makes regular appearances and offers a raw take on the story, often keeping her sister in check by giving her hard love and uncomfortable truths. The documentary also touches on past, abusive relationships and how Paris’ rise to fame has inevitably created a brand empire. She’s created successful product lines ranging from skincare, makeup and handbags to her 19 fragrances, which have nearly made $3 billion USD in sales. The famed Hilton is also an accomplished DJ, earning $350,000 per show, has over 50 boutiques worldwide and a club resort named after her in the Philippines.
You can stream This is Paris on YouTube from 14 September 2020.