While there’s no doubt that Paris has worked incredibly hard, and she’s no doubt earnest to check her privilege, it makes me wonder if her life has been so far from normal that she’s not capable of seeing beyond the bubble. But while she may have played a fake character, (and played us all in the process,) one thing she has never played is the victim. And given all she’s been subjected to, I find this incredibly courageous.
The conversation returns to the way women in the public eye were treated in the first decade of the 2000’s; the misogyny and the double standards that she and her fellow famous female friends were subjected to. Who could forget the 2006 New York Post front page paparazzi shot of Paris, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan in a car, under the headline ‘Bimbo summit’?
We talk about the impact this had on her mental health.
“Back then, people were not even speaking about mental health,” she reminds me.
“[It] was not even on people’s minds to think that we were human beings with feelings, and we were just young girls growing up and discovering who we were. And doing [what] any other normal girl would do – except that our lives were being magnified by the press.
“One thing that the 2000s was about was really pitting women against each other,” she tells me as we discuss the misogynistic tabloid culture surrounding reports that she and her famous friends were always feuding. “Back then a woman standing up for themself, a woman speaking her mind was like, ‘Oh, they’re difficult, they’re hard to deal with,’” she says.
“Any woman who I’ve seen in this industry growing up as a teenager, who would ever say anything would get persecuted for it, get so much backlash.”
Given all this and her party girl reputation, I wonder if Paris ever developed a dependency on alcohol or drugs? Did she ever consider herself an addict?
“No,” she says firmly. “I think I just wanted to escape, so I would just drink to not have to think about the bad things that had happened to me. And when I was out at night and just with the loud music, the clubs and the people would distract me from anything. I think when you go through something traumatic, you just want maybe to party the pain away.”
“And I’m such a shy person. A lot of people don’t realise how painfully shy I am, so it was a way where I would just not feel the shyness and awkwardness.”
Finally, her happily ever after
There is however a happy ending to the Paris Hilton story. That massive secret I mentioned earlier? It turns out that the day before we met in LA, on January 16, she had become a parent for the first time, welcoming a son, via surrogate, with her husband, venture capitalist, Carter Reum. Yes; the day before we met!