To say that Kylie Jenner has changed a bit over the past few years would be like saying this hurricane season has been a smidge inconvenient.
These days, Kylie is virtually unrecognizable from her younger years.
In some photos, she looks as though she’s been entirely rebuilt from scratch, like some sort of Millennial Six Million Dollar Man, which is a reference that maybe two or three of Kylie’s 98 million Instagram followers would get.
But we don’t say any of this to disparage Kylie.
The 20-year-old grew up in a family in which cosmetic rejiggering was not only accepted but encouraged, and all through her formative years, she watched her sisters amass increasing wealth and fame, due in large part to their appearances.
What teen could possibly resist following in those footsteps?
Of course, there’s also a more unpleasant reason that Kylie may have been drawn to medically altering her appearance at such a young age.
Kylie may have watched her sisters rise to unimaginable heights of fame and success, but she also saw them brutally mocked and bullied on social media, and she likely grew to fear that sort of treatment from a young age.
It’s easy to jibe Kylie for the many obvious ways in which her face and body have changed due to fillers, implants, nips, and tucks (and we do wish she would be more honest about these procedures for the sake of her young fans), but she grew up under public scrutiny few of us could imagine.
These days, Kylie is the star of her own reality show, and she’s more under the spotlight than ever before.
Life of Kylie is not doing well in the ratings, and it’s been savaged by critics for its hagiographic, blandly superficial look at Kylie’s efforts to expand her cosmetics empire, but the show does feature occasional moments of real insight.
On this week’s episode, for example, Kylie opened up for the first time about what motivated her to undergo lip filler treatments when she was just 15 years old:
"I was 15 and I was insecure about my lips … I [had] really small lips," she told a therapist on the show.
She went on to detail how a comment that followed her first kiss eventually led her to seek cosmetic treatment:
"It was like one of my first kisses and a guy was like, ‘I didn’t think you would be a good kisser because you have such small lips,’" Kylie said, adding that she "took that really hard."
Kylie revealed she initially attempted to correct the problem with cosmetics:
"I would overline my lips with lip liner just to create the illusion of bigger lips," she told the therapist, adding:
"Finally I was like, ‘This lip liner isn’t doing it.’"
Yes, as so often the case with this sort of thing, Kylie’s pursuit of physical perfection is the result of deep-seated insecurity that was exacerbated by a painful episode in adolescence.
We all go through an awkward phase at one point or another — and we think it’s safe to say that few of us, given Kylie’s resources, would be able to resist the temptation of a quick fix for our perceived imperfections.
So maybe cut Kylie some slack on her famous lips.
But feel free to continue making fun of her raging ego and blind pursuit of wealth for its own sake.