Paris Hilton opens up about becoming a mom, and what readers can expect from her new book.
To a lot of millennials and Gen Z’ers, Paris Hilton is the OG influencer. As someone who became the It girl in the early aughts, primarily through paparazzi snaps and partying, she embodies a particular brand of self-determined fame. Back then Hilton utilized her budding notoriety to build out a cultural legacy that includes, in part, The Simple Life, the catchphrase “that’s hot,” the reggae-tinged hit “Stars Are Blind,” and one juggernaut of a perfume line.
Yet in a new book titled simply Paris: The Memoir, Hilton is sharing her complicated story in her own words. The memoir sees Hilton reveal the deeper stories behind some of the most talked-about moments in her life—that tape, for instance—and discuss issues like her struggles with ADHD and her painful time at Provo Canyon School. Readers can also find moments of levity and riveting pop-culture history, however. (In one scene, Hilton unpacks exactly how that iconic pap shot of her, Britney Spears, and Lindsay Lohan hanging out came to be.)
Hilton says she was inspired to share more of her life story after the overwhelming response to the 2020 documentary This Is Paris. In it, she publicly accused Provo Canyon School of abuse and mistreatment for the first time—shocking the world and, Hilton says, her parents. “That was the first time I was vulnerable and showed my real side,” Hilton tells Vogue, speaking on Zoom from her home in LA. “That documentary changed my entire life.” Hilton says it prompted vital, healing conversations with her parents and made them all “closer than ever before.” As a result, she felt motivated to dig even deeper. “It was just the beginning of this whole path of self-discovery. The media has really controlled my narrative and my story for over 20 years. I feel like it’s time to say the truth myself.”
So Hilton got to work on her memoir, an endeavor that required a lot of retrospection. “There’s some really traumatic experiences that I’ve endured, and they were difficult to even think about, let alone write down,” Hilton says. “Especially when I was doing the audiobook last week—that was extremely emotional.” One of those experiences: an unnamed teacher at Hilton’s junior high school taking advantage of her. “That was something I didn’t tell anyone and didn’t speak about until I started writing my book,” Hilton says. “It’s just…f or an adult to take advantage of their power like that is just so wrong in so many ways. For so long, being a young girl, I was holding on to this shame when it wasn’t mine to be held onto. It’s the shame of the person that hurt me. I feel that so many things happen to people in life that they take on as their own shame when it shouldn’t be on them at all.”
Explorations of power and abuse occur throughout Hilton’s memoir. One passage that’s already made the rounds describes how she’d been coerced into making her infamous sex tape. Hilton’s description of the vicious and misogynistic attacks she suffered when the tape was leaked provides a powerful snapshot of the pre-MeToo media landscape, particularly in the tabloid heyday of the early 2000s.
“I feel like when [the tape] came out, the media was so cruel and vilified me when I didn’t do anything wrong,” Hilton says. “I trusted someone that I was in a relationship with. I had my trust completely betrayed. And no one knew the true story because I never talked about it. [There] was something that my family would always say to me: ‘Don’t give things energy.’ So, I’ve always tried to hold things in and not speak about certain things. But in the book, I finally tell exactly what happened.”
For all the painful experiences that make up Paris: The Memoir, the release and promotion of the candid work come at a particularly happy time for Hilton. She and her husband, Carter Reum, welcomed their first child, Phoenix Barron Hilton-Reum, less than two months ago.
“He is so precious and sweet,” Hilton says of her baby boy. “When I look at my baby photos, he looks so similar to me. We both have the same lips and the same smile.” Hilton says she landed on the name Phoenix Barron as a reference to “the rising phoenix” and her grandfather the late business mogul Barron Hilton, who, Hilton says, “has always been my mentor.”
She has plans for more children. “I’m just excited to one day have a little girl named London, and she’ll have her big brother Phoenix to look after her,” she shares. “I’ve been planning this for a long time. I just had to find the right partner to do it with. It’s so hard to trust people, and I’m so grateful to have found my husband.”
She is also excited to see how the world and her loved ones react to the memoir. One person in particular stands out: Nicole Richie, Hilton’s childhood partner in crime and costar on The Simple Life. The memoir is filled with colorful scenes of the two women taking the world by storm and wreaking colorful havoc. They had a well-documented falling out years ago but have since reconciled, Hilton says. “It was so much fun to relive and remember all these fun times and cute memories between us that will stay with me forever,” Hilton says. “I just sent her the book this week, so she’ll see.”