Like a lot of people in the aughts, I did not like Paris Hilton. She was loud and tacky and didn't play by the "rules." What these rules were, exactly, I wasn't quite sure, but I knew that she didn't fit them. In the early 2000s, a lot of magazines had "hot or not" columns, and Paris Hilton was always in the "not." Oh, how the tabloids loved to demean her for her visible whale tails and various wardrobe malfunctions. And taking our cue in this pre-internet era, the rest of us followed suit like sheep.
My thoughts on Hilton changed when I read a biography about her family (and learned, from the contemporaneous portion at the end, that she was not estranged from or disinherited by her great-grandfather, who was actually quite impressed by her business acumen). I also read interviews with her about her television cameos and the roles she played for the paparazzi and was jarred by how self-aware and effacing she was about the partygirl persona she cultivated by the cameras. I started to think Paris Hilton might actually be OK. Then I watched the TV show Cooking with Paris, where she tries out various recipes and then hosts dinner parties with various celebrity friends, and found myself... charmed.
2004-era Nenia would NEVER.
When CONFESSIONS OF AN HEIRESS went on sale, I knew I had to buy it. Even though this is a book I would have sneered at when it came out, adult me is a sophisticated and classy lady who is a connoisseur of good taste in bad taste. I'm actually shocked it has such low ratings, to be honest. I have to think that people picked this book up and took it at face-value, when the whole book is basically a parody of an instruction guide where she half-laughs at herself and half-laughs at you, the reader. It's almost a ridiculous parody of a self-help book because of how unachievable her lifestyle is (and she knows it), but peppered in is some genuinely good advice, like not treating people being broke as a deal-breaker for relationships or remembering to carry small bills while traveling to tip.
The best portions of this book are the photographs. This is a veritable lookbook of early 2000s fashion, for better or for worse. Bucket hats. Asymmetric skirts. Low, low, low-rise jeans. Micro miniskirts. She even has a gallery in the back where she discusses some of her worst fashion faux-pas. She also. WRITES. A JOURNAL. PRETENDING. TO BE. HER DOG. I also really enjoyed the chapter about her sister and the one at the end about her family and dating life. No, she doesn't really dish anything too personal, but she told you up front that she wouldn't. More fool you for not believing her.
I guess I am a Paris Hilton fan now. What can I say? I like people who are ridiculous but still real, and I don't think she's ever actually done anything super bad (apart from acting like a fool on camera). Her insights into her role on the Simple Life were interesting and actually made me want to watch the show. Her love of cooking is hinted at here and makes Cooking with Paris seem like a passion project. She also hints at wanting to create an affordable fashion line, which she did-- several times. I think she actually has a collection of Juicy Couture-esque tracksuits that are just a little cheaper than Juicy. I also own some of her home cookware which is also super affordable and surprisingly high quality. Maybe she was loud and tacky and didn't play by the rules. But it's 2020, and people are starting to realize that when it comes to how to win at being a woman, rules were basically made to be broken, anyway.
4 out of 5 stars