"PIZZAAAAAAAAAA," Kylie Jenner clamored as I entered the green room of a swanky New York City hotel.
This was not the first word I expected my beauty idol to say when I met her. The 18-year-old was slouched in her wicker chair, as her nude, backless sequin gown sparkled in a pool around her. A bevy of publicists, pals, and cameramen bustled about, tending to her every need and documenting every moment.
I stood there, trying not to look slack-jawed or starstruck.
"Pizza! 8:30. It's going down," the reality princess announced resolutely.
Whether this was meant for her squad of managers (sans momager Kris Jenner) or her friends — Jordyn Woods and Harry Hudson — was unclear. As her publicists debated whether or not Chipotle was a safe option for a snack, Kylie decided to order food from the hotel. "A cheeseburger. Just ketchup and cheese," she declared. ". . . And pizza on the side."
I was there to interview Kylie about her upcoming nail lacquer collection with SinfulColors, a brand known for selling ultratrendy shades at an affordable price. The King Kylie Sinful Shine collection was designed to be a UV-free gel polish alternative. Each of the 21 bottles (20 hues and a glossy topcoat) will cost only $3, the perfect price point for the star's young fans.
While this is not Kylie's first beauty venture, we predict it will be one of her most successful ones. Kylie has collaborated with skin care line Nip+Fab and hair extension collection Bellami and has launched her own lip colors late last year, but King Kylie Sinful Shine is the most accessible of her products (you'll be able to grab them at Walmart). And when you have over 51 million followers on Instagram alone, accessibility is important.
She is arguably the most impactful celebrity when it comes to millennial beauty culture, and a big component of that success stems from the fact that Kylie seems to share every aspect of her life on social media. Videos of the star getting her hair cut on Snapchat sends followers into a frenzy. As soon as she hints that her Lip Kits are being restocked, they sell out in a matter of minutes. Her fans obsess over and strive to duplicate even the smallest steps in her beauty routine. I am one of those fans.
I keep up with the Kardashians just to catch a glimpse of her, I plumped my pucker to see if I could duplicate her look (bruising myself in the process), and I've spent my hard-earned money on her Lip Kits. So naturally, I got up an extra hour early to cover my face with contouring cream, thick false lashes, and eyebrow gel in anticipation of meeting her. And of course, I slicked on Posie K Lip Kit.
Because I myself am 27 and she has reached this level of beauty notoriety, it's easy for me to forget that behind this flawless persona is an 18-year-old girl, albeit a stunningly beautiful one. Once her cheeseburger order had been handled, I was beckoned forward to sit beside her. Kylie's skin appeared satiny smooth, her teeth impossibly white, and her famous lips larger than life. Her attention, however, was on mine.
"What are you wearing right now?" she asked, gesturing to my lipstick. When I divulged that it was her own product, she lit up. "I love it — she's wearing Posie!" she shouted to her team, and they cheered. "I knew it. I could tell," Kylie insisted.
She then looked out to the balcony. From where we were seated, we had a breathtaking view of Midtown Manhattan. It was obvious that the stormy sky was going to give way to a remarkable sunset.
"You guys, the sky! I need to go outside," she exclaimed, almost to herself. "This is, like, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Kylie turned back to me and started talking about the names she gave each polish (including Koko-Nuts, a shimmery white shade named after Khloé Kardashian). But soon she was distracted again by the breathtaking pink sky. "Harry!" she called, as she stood up and ran outside.
"Don't fall!" pleaded her publicists as she tottered across the balcony in her neutral-colored stilettos — her entourage trailing close behind.
It was at this moment that I witnessed what it must be like behind the scenes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. It was a completely surreal setting: no fewer than five people — photographers, friends, and more — ran outside with Kylie as she posed, arms open like Kate Winslet in the iconic Titanic posters. Pink and gold lighting bounced off her face, her glimmering gown, and the city skyline. They snapped photos for a few minutes, which is when Kylie noticed me watching her on the balcony. Her expression sobered a bit, and she trotted back in, shivering.
Though she was obviously cold, her lips betrayed an impish, devious grin as she looked from team member to team member. It seemed as if she was waiting for someone to scold her a bit, but the only remarks were about how Kylie must be freezing. She sat down next to me, and a stylist came over to fix her windblown mane. "Your hair looks great," reassured a publicist, and heat lamps came on to warm Kylie up. I perspired in my thick sweater.
Sure, while having a crew is beyond the norm, it was not uncommon typical teenager behavior. (Or just millennial behavior: who hasn't stopped everything in order to take a photo of brunch before it's demolished?) She would later explain that she needed to take those shots for social media. "I just like to post . . . life and views." A lone image of that once-in-a-lifetime sunset, absent of Kylie, would later be posted to her Snapchat.
Conversation turned back to beauty. Though she remained mum on what would be next from Kylie Cosmetics, she divulged that she's especially interested in expanding to include foundations, naming Armani Face Fabric ($51) and Charlotte Tilbury's formula ($45) as two of her favorites.
I then caught a glimpse of her hands, which Kylie had been arranging and rearranging in her lap. Her fingers were studded with stacks of rings, but I focused on her nails. They were painted with three shades from her collection — the aforementioned Koko-Nuts as the base color, with accents of rose gold Kreme de la Kreme and turquoise Kryptonite in a subtle take on a half moon design. But more notably, she was wearing her own nails in an elegant rounded shape instead of the acrylics, which she is known for.
"I just realized that long nails are so scary, and then I just cut them off," she explained. "They just really freaked me and Jordyn out. We were just looking at them one day, and they were so long. [We were, like,] 'This is so weird. Why do people do this? Why do people, like, add to their nails?'"
Before being ushered out, I posed for a selfie with Kylie, who took charge of the camera. She began snapping away, changing the angle of her chin and the degree of her smile. I was completely unprepared for nearly all of these shots but was delighted to have a souvenir of my time with her.
Shaking slightly, thanks to the adrenaline rush of having met Kylie, I went straight to the bar. Pink cocktails with Pop Rocks-covered rims floated by, but I opted for a glass of Champagne. "Excuse me," said one of the cameramen from the green room. "Would you be interested in possibly being on Keeping Up With the Kardashians?" He handed me a release form to sign.
Keeping my cool, I accepted the pen and added my signature without even reading it. (It was my chance at fame, after all!) "If you make it, the episode should air this Spring," he explained. I nodded, barely registering this remark as an enormous nail-polish-bottle-shaped cake was carried past me. As lavish and exciting as this all was, it made me think about how strictly structured Kylie's life must be.
If her schedule is close to what it seems like from a fan's perspective, she is constantly flying around the world, stripping down and getting glam for photo shoots, meeting with beauty and fashion executives, and filming for her app. It may seem glamorous on the surface, but it must also be exhausting.
When I was 18, I was in college studying, rehearsing for my music degree, and sneaking sips of Smirnoff Ice drinks. During my magical five minutes with Kylie, I inquired what she does to decompress, and she responded, "Just be with my friends, and hang out . . . Have friend time, and be 18." That made me a little sad. It's very cool that she has the luxury of being able to bring her friends with her when she's working, but I can imagine that the ultimate luxury for her is doing nothing with them at home.
I am still a big Kylie fan after meeting with her. I admire her dedication to beauty, her brands, and her lifestyle. But above all, I hope that she can find the time during the last of her teenage years to enjoy her youth. She once told reporters that she fears her next birthday and doesn't want to get older than 18. While I wouldn't wish to be that age ever again (your mid-20s are so much better!), I do miss the days of having few responsibilities. And if I were Kylie, I'd acknowledge those days are already scarce — and revel in them, ordering cheeseburgers with pizza on the side while I could.
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