Paris Hilton Is FASHION’s Summer Cover Star


Paris: The Memoir paints the portrait of a young woman who is drowning in trauma, desperately grasping onto any available life raft she can find. Her rebellious childhood started in New York City in the early 1980s but reached a tipping point in the ’90s. Suffocated by her strict parents and private schools that couldn’t accommodate her challenges (she was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult), Hilton was desperate for an escape and found refuge on dance floors across the city. Afraid for her safety, the Hiltons decided to send their 16-year-old to a boarding school for “troubled teens.” And this is where things got dark. Like, really dark. 

It started with two men kidnapping Hilton in the middle of the night, literally dragging her out of her bedroom by her ankles as her parents watched. For the next year and a half, a teenage Hilton was beaten, degraded and starved at multiple U.S. institutions, the worst of which was Provo Canyon School in Utah. Despite numerous attempts to run away, Hilton was regularly drugged and sedated against her will, subjected to invasive “cervical exams” by male and female “teachers” and eventually stripped and put into solitary confinement for days on end. (It has since come out that her parents were unaware of the mistreatment happening at these facilities.) 

It was in those cells where the “Paris Persona” was first born. “The darkness was so all-consuming, the only way I could stay alive was to find a source of light inside myself,” she writes in her memoir. “This wasn’t a nebulous daydream; it was a mechanically specific vision. I plotted logistics…. I focused on my inner empire. I would make so much money and be so successful, no one could ever have control over me again.”

When Hilton finally got out, she wasted no time in putting her plan into action. After months of not even being allowed to look in a mirror, she was determined to make up for lost time, lost shopping, lost partying, lost love and lost attention. (For many years, Hilton equated love and paparazzi attention as one and the same.)

She quickly became an L.A. socialite, and so did her friends — like longtime BFF Nicole Richie, whom she met when she was a child. Enter the producers of The Simple Life, who were looking to revamp reality TV and knew just the two young women to do it. “They basically told us, ‘Nicole, you’re the troublemaker, and Paris, you’re the dumb blond,’ and I went full force with that narrative,” Hilton explains. “When the show became such a huge phenomenon, people thought that was who I actually was, so I played into it.” 

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