That's Hot: The Original "It Girl"

Influencers. A staple in modern culture, the title is prominent on most social media platforms, with names like Anastasia Karanikolaou (@stassiebaby) and Kylie Jenner (@kyliejenner) leading the army of hopefuls looking for fans and fame by simply sharing their existence with the world. The birth of social media spawned copycats and try hards all trying to be just like them, clustered onto a digital platform, measuring success by followers. I would like to take a moment to recognize the true leader of this wave, the It Girl herself, Paris Hilton. An icon of the early 2000s, she created an image that influenced a generation and was the beginning of it all. Pioneering the act of being a digital celebutante, one Juicy Couture tracksuit and "that's hot" at a time.  

While the stigma around being born with a silver spoon is negative for the most part, I prefer to look past that, considering you cannot help being born into wealth or poverty, and instead look at what they have done with the circumstances given. Paris, being born into a wealthy family, did not squander her wealth and opportunity. Instead, she created a brand for herself, an image revolving around her as a person, one that every girl wanted to be like. At 19, she was signed to T Management, Donald Trump’s modeling agency, and started her career as a socialite. The firm foundation of being a Hilton, an already socially elite family, moved her quickly up the ladder. Shortly after being signed, Hilton gained big-screen experience with parts in three different movies over the next three years and even did a shoot for Vanity Fair with her sister, Nicky. While all of this sounds like success to most of us, Paris was only just getting started.  

In 2002, Paris was known, but the reach of her image blew up in 2003 with the leak of her sex tape with then-boyfriend, Rick Salomon. Many remember when Kim K had a similar situation later on in the 2000s, but we cannot forget those who came before. This leak happened shortly after the debut of her reality series, The Simple Life, with co-star Nicole Riche, which subsequently blew the ratings through the roof. After that, the rest is history. From earning titles ranging from one of the “10 Most Fascinating People” in 2004 to the “Second Worst Celebrity Role Model” in 2006 (behind Britney Spears), the ups and downs of her career in the 2000s were highly scrutinized by the media. Currently, though, there are 50 Paris stores worldwide with an impressive 19 different product lines varying from skincare, to clothing, and fragrance. Adding this all up, there is no dispute that Paris is, in fact, the Influencer before Influencers and the queen of being famous for being famous.  

Before Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, there was Myspace, tabloids, and MTV. And Paris Hilton was the head b*tch of it all. I give her even more creds considering it was more difficult to keep up with her then than it is now. You couldn’t just “follow” someone from your smartphone, you had to go pick up a magazine or tune in to a show or movie. And yet she still had the same influence as today’s lead influencers respectively, paving the way for the “famous for being famous” phenomenon to take flight. Best of all, while her level of fame has evolved over time, being almost 20 years since her initial rise to fame, she has stayed relevant in the public’s eye. Focusing on transforming her brand from socialite to businesswoman, all while maintaining her “It Girl” persona. In more recent years she’s been down runways, up the charts, and even ventured into memes. Staying current with the times so effortlessly and for so long is something few can accomplish, earning Paris the respect she deserves as the original modern influencer, and forever America's It Girl.