Paris Hilton is an iconic figure of the early 2000s, having made headlines for her luxurious lifestyle, flamboyant fashions, and famous taglines. But there is much more to the heiress than what is visible on the surface, as evidenced by her new memoir, Paris: The Memoir. In her book, Hilton gives an intimate and unflinching look into the dark past she endured prior to becoming a household name.
The gripping narrative commences mid-flight above Las Vegas, with a hungover Hilton skydiving at daybreak after “the grandest 21st birthday celebration since Marie Antoinette” (of whom she ought to keep in mind the ultimate fate). As Hilton plunges through the cloudless sky, she comes to terms with her insignificant existence, buffeted by ferocious winds and descending to destruction. When the parachute eventually opens, however, she feels a sense of serene bliss, “hovering above the desert like a glittering gem on a beautiful silver necklace”. This mundane experience turns into something spiritual – likened to the Biblical dove or Mary’s ascent in reverse – convincing Hilton of her mysterious allure.
The teenage years of Hilton’s life were marked with traumatic events and difficult experiences, even though she had grown up in privileged circumstances. After acting out during her high school years, she was sent off to Provo Canyon School in Utah in 1997, aged 17. When she arrived, she was stripped of her identity, given the number ‘127’, and subjected to physical and emotional abuse. During her stay, Hilton had to endure a degrading pelvic exam, regular nude “observations”, and threats of injected sedation if she ever spoke out. She recollects of the exam room, “there was always a tray with syringes”.
As Hilton acknowledges in her memoir, her often outlandish behavior and reckless attitude throughout her teenage years and early twenties were largely caused by her post-traumatic response to the abuse she faced at the facility. Through her candid account of the past, she aims to bring more awareness to the “troubled teen” industry, to demonstrate how the treatments and therapies used in such institutions actually do more harm than good, and to provide support for those who have gone through similar traumas. Ultimately, she wants her readers to know that “The people who hurt you don’t get the last word. You get to tell the story of you, and your story has more power than you can imagine.”
Her enormous fame was undoubtedly furthered by the digital era, which enabled her to promote her image to an international audience, insinuating her into our defenseless brains. “I was an amplifier and attention was the power cord,” she believes, resulting in her transformation into “a saleable commodity”. Further explorations of digital realms, including cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens and the metaverse, reveal her immeasurable hunger for discovery.
As Hilton says herself, “I threw myself in without a second thought”. Aptly, she then elaborates on her music production ventures, along with “product development” that ultimately shaped her into “a corporate-branding diva” – not to mention the adult video featuring her intimate moments with an old flame, which went viral despite her reticence and was remarkably dedicated to the victims of 9/11. As a result, it would seem that everyone in the world is familiar with Paris Hilton and her fame remains firmly entrenched in the minds of the masses. Utilizing Twitter as a “stimulant-fueled dream”, the modern day icon continues to rise.
The full truth of Paris Hilton’s past reveals that behind her luxurious image and her fame, there are a multitude of difficult and traumatic experiences that she has endured. Despite the dark clouds that linger over her past, Hilton hopes that her story will encourage other victims of such abuses to reclaim their power and rewrite their stories with strength.