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Kylie Jenner has a problem: she can't rebel.
Sure, she's the teen who has everything. At only 18, she's wealthy, famous, and as uber-conventionally hyper-attractive as a spambot or a Second Life character. Not only does she have a world-renowned mouth (something every little girl dreams of), she profits from it, hocking a lip kit that sells out in minutes every time it becomes available. This, even though everyone knows that her own Salvador Dali sofa of an eating orifice is surgically, not cosmetically, enhanced.
More than that, she has a gross-to-adults, presumably-cool-to-youths boyfriend who raps super-uncomfortable lyrics about the way she likes sex, which is romantic and great. She's the second most notable model in the family. Even her app is wildly popular, more than her internet-breaking older sister's, and it does... cool stuff, I guess, like contain a playlist that you pay for. But despite this rich and incredible life, there's one thing that the most downtrodden average teen — even the average downtrodden famous teen — can do that Jenner never, ever, can: act the eff out.
Kylie was 10 when the pilot of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was filmed. In the first half of the first episode, the pre-teen slides impressively down a stripper pole in lucite heels, as Kim and Khloe laugh on in shock. Life continued from there. When you're 17 and your mom, older sisters, and parent company (NBCUniversal) approve of your 25-year-old boyfriend, how can you possibly act out? When they support your overt sexualization and your racially-awkward style choices and your barely-secret plastic surgery, what buttons are left to push?
For other starlets coming of age, i.e. the Mileys and Selenas of recent years or the Britneys and Christinas of my childhood, there was always something to push back against. Even if they weren't Disney princesses (though they were all Disney princesses), everyone still labored under the strict, weighty, and unfair cultural expectation of virginity and its supposed counterpart, purity. This is the kind of dumb-dumb sociocultural fallacy that even a teen can grasp as BS and revolt against, eventually using this new stripe of independent thinking to begin the difficult process of carving out a unique, adult identity.
And past the purity trap, past starlets had to contend with the cultural barriers that are maybe actually kind of a good idea to not cross: not using all the drugs, not being pretty racist, not wildly altering your body's appearance before the hard end of puberty, not having a public emotional collapse and subsequently attacking a deserving paparazzo with an umbrella.
But if Kylie got really into weed or shaved her head or leaked a sex tape, no one would blink. Ryan Secrets (typo, but it stays) definitely wouldn't risk a forehead wrinkle on it. A sex tape would be kind of quaint, in fact — a sisterly homage.
There's nothing Kylie could do in the public eye — short of shooting someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue, Trump-style — that couldn't be packaged and sold to a waiting audience. Until we're not seeing her, until people can't remember her name, she will never ever be free.
Even if Kylie made the radical choice to be boring (a choice some might argue she's already made), there's already a Kardashian precursor for a dull-ass persona. She could be another Kourtney, dutifully following her sisters to Miami and the Hamptons, speaking with a flat affect about stores or Jitneys.
But there is some hope. Kylie could start by ditching the source of her dominance: her enhanced lips. If she has permanent fillers, she'd have to go through the painful and possibly scarring process to remove them but if they're just injections, like Restylane or Juvederm, she can just, you know, leave them alone for a year and they're deflate on their own. Without the power of the pout, Kylie's teen sway and the rest of her brand — her trout-faced game avatar, her mouth Snapchat persona, and of course, her lip kit — might just fade away.
She could take out her extensions, avoid wigs, stop popping her booty, eschew spray tanner, and wear the clothes of normals. If none of that works, if she's just embraced as inventing the body mod version of normcore, than she could go further: she could get a job with regular hours and quantifiable results and no social media presence, like washing dishes in an industrial kitchen or cleaning classrooms at an elite Massachusetts' university (sure, I'm thinking of Good Kylie Hunting here, but why not?). She could move; not to a scenic, Instagrammable Montana ranch, or an adorable seaside town in Maine where she would learn about herself, Nick Sparks style, through the love of a good carpenter, or even a third world country where she could trick us and herself into believing she has even an iota of charitable impulse in one of her pointy, pointy talons, but someplace deeply unglamorous like that top Dakota.
She could try out reality, the non-TV version. She could get her hands dirty without having a handler off camera ready with a wet-wipe; she could make mistakes the tabloids couldn't know to weigh in on. She could try to live the unedited, unbroadcast, unexciting life of a regular American. And for her, that would be revolutionary.