Fifteen years ago, if you had told me that one day I’d read Paris Hilton’s life story and actually admire her for writing it, I would have said you were crazy. I distinctly remember Paris Hilton circa 2007 or so. She was in her mid 20s and seemed to be on a one way track to nowhere. She seemed to have a lot in common with Anna Nicole Smith, who sadly passed away that year. Both were bottle blonde models who had substance abuse issues… Both were portrayed as vapid, spoiled, and kind of low class. South Park famously did an episode about Paris Hilton, referring to her as a “stupid spoiled whore”.
2007 was also the year Paris went to jail for 23 days for driving under the influence and violating her probation. OMovies on YouTube made a rather entertaining parody of her song, “Stars are Blind”. They also made one about Lindsay Lohan, but I can’t find that one right now.
I decided to read Paris Hilton’s 2023 book, Paris: The Memoir after I saw her YouTube documentary and read several articles about her ordeals at Provo Canyon School, a “troubled teen” facility in Provo, Utah. I determined, especially after watching her documentary, that there’s a lot more to Paris Hilton that meets the eye, and she’s gotten a really bum rap. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, reading Hilton’s book only confirms that notion to me.
The media unfairly portrayed Paris Hilton as an empty-headed, spoiled moron with low morals. But the reality is, she was suffering from untreated Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Like a lot of us who came of age before ADHD was commonly treated, Paris Hilton was forced to try to fend for herself as she struggled through childhood and adolescence. She did poorly in school, and had some pretty obvious impulse control problems. But she wasn’t a bad kid, and she certainly didn’t deserve to be sent off to high priced boarding schools where she was blatantly abused and learned absolutely NOTHING of value. On the contrary, she left those experiences with significant trauma. Fortunately, she’s got a head for business, so now she’s selling her story to the masses, but she’s also trying to make a real difference through lobbying efforts against these abusive facilities that charge obscene amounts of money to imprison, brainwash, and abuse children on behalf of their parents.
A good portion of Paris: The Memoir is about Paris’s experiences in several facilities of differing severities. However, she also writes a fair bit about her family, and repeatedly reiterates that she has forgiven her parents. She writes that she knows they were trying to help her, even though they had her hauled off in the middle of the night by abusive goons who handcuffed her and shuttled her off to unspeakably awful “schools”. I can’t help but wonder if that would have happened if Paris Hilton had been appropriately treated for ADHD instead of simply being regarded as a discipline case. She might have still gotten into trouble, but I doubt her parents would have felt the need to send her away.
These days, Paris Hilton makes her living as a D.J. and business person. She fully admits that she’s a very privileged person, who has a whole lot of benefits that most people don’t have. There are a few instances in her book when her frankness about her privilege took me aback. On one or two occasions, she even makes statements that seem obviously and blatantly arrogant to me. But then, the charm returns, and I realize that even the arrogant statements aren’t even particularly wrong. It’s just that in our culture, people tend to frown on folks who pat themselves on the back too much. When Paris brags, she’s just being truthful. The fact is, she is beautiful, wealthy, and quite charmed in her life.
While I’ve read better written books than Paris Hilton’s, I also give her credit for being able to write her story in a fairly clear and coherent way, in spite of her vapid image… and in spite of the fact that she spent two years in a teen gulag, and never went to college. It’s more than a lot of people can accomplish. I see from reviews that some readers were left unmoved by her story. Some continue to refer to her as spoiled and narcissistic. Whether or not she’s like that in person, I don’t know. She says she’s a “nice” person, and there are many times within the book at which I can believe that about her. She’s also a survivor.
I couldn’t help but cheer for Paris when she related the story about how she went to the ladies room and slammed her female goon in the face by kicking the stall door at her like a “kangaroo”. I don’t usually cheer for violence, but I truly hate the troubled teen boarding schools. So many of them are just cash cows for religions and make their money by drugging, abusing, and traumatizing young people, then sending them out into the world to recover. It’s absolutely appalling and despicable. Even people in prison get treated better than that, most of the time. I can’t stand to see people being brutalized, especially when they’re teenagers, as Paris was when she went through her ordeal. So yes, I do cheer when young people manage to get one over on oppressive, bullying, abusive people who are simply using them for money or labor. Fuck that.
I don’t think this is the best memoir I’ve ever read. Gven a choice, I’d probably read Jennette McCurdy’s book, I’m Glad My Mom Died over Paris Hilton’s memoir. But I do think that if this type of book interests you, and you have the time and means to get it, it’s worth the read. That is, only if you can get beyond the stereotypical image of Paris Hilton that the media projected on her, back when she was younger. One criticism I would offer is that Paris mentions her time on The Simple Life, which was a Fox reality show that she did with Nicole Richie. I never watched the show, so when she kept mentioning people from the show, I was a little bit lost. I sort of deduced some things, but it would have been clearer for me if she’d have explained a bit more. But that’s a minor quibble.
Paris Hilton seems to have cleaned up her act, and has done a lot to repair her reputation. I, for one, applaud her for her efforts. No, she’s not perfect, and I understand that many people have no sympathy for her. Personally, I’ve found myself softening toward Paris Hilton in the past couple of years. Even if she seems a bit vain and shallow to some people, she certainly doesn’t seem as “bad” as she did in 2007 or so. And even in 2007, I doubt she was as bad as the media portrayed her to be. Yes, she has the benefits of wealth, beauty, and coming from a powerful family, but those attributes aren’t everything. In fact, they can even be hindrances in life. But most people probably don’t want to spend more than a few minutes pondering that potential reality, do they? Unfortunately, a lot of folks prefer to think the worst of others and simply tear them down relentlessly. Then, when someone does the same thing to them, they’re the first to whine about it.
I think on a scale of one to five, with five being the highest rating, I’d give Paris Hilton’s memoir a four. Your mileage may vary.
As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.