Kylie Jenner’s baby broke the internet.
Upon first glance, her choice to avoid the media and focus on her pregnancy seems like a selfless act of love for the baby. However, she announced her newborn daughter in a way that benefited her brand and created even more of a social media craze than if she had not kept her pregnancy a secret.
Being a part of the Kardashian-Jenner family has become synonymous with prioritizing business over genuine privacy and having a personal life. From the televised reality show to high-profile celebrity feuds, the family has a proclivity for turning personal moments into public attention and profits.
Jenner’s hiatus from the media hardly seems different from the leave of absence some musicians take before releasing new music, such as Adele’s disappearance before the release of her album “25.” Adele took a break that lasted three years before she teased “Hello” to a British audience in 2015, sparking media attention on a massive scale. The first song following her hiatus was a hit, likely aided by the public’s demand for new music after such a long wait. Similarly, Jenner’s relative absence from media and her family’s active avoidance of revealing her pregnancy resulted in a massive yet contrived social response to her baby girl.
Rumors of a possible pregnancy began in September with the family refusing to confirm any speculations until days after the birth. Jenner’s announcement on Instagram, which she posted Feb. 4, stated she kept the baby girl’s existence quiet to protect herself from the stress of telling the media.
“There was no gotcha moment, no big paid reveal i (sic) had planned,” she wrote.
The note on her Instagram sounded genuine, but the post immediately following the announcement was a clip of a YouTube video put together to “reveal” the baby to the world. The sudden announcement that Jenner had given birth to a baby excited social media, which may have been the family’s intention. The YouTube video garnered millions of views and the photo gained more than 10 million likes, making it one of the most liked photos on Instagram.
Jenner titled the video “To Our Daughter,” yet she posted it to social media for the everyone else to see – it would be more aptly named “To the World.” The social media reaction was massive, generating memes and news articles in mass quantities.
In a world where everybody feels a necessity to share every important event with their followers, it comes as no surprise Jenner would do the same. No one is required to tell the world they had a child, and parents certainly aren’t required to make and post a home video documenting the whole journey. Announcements of any kind are meant to generate buzz, and sharing the pregnancy would have been much less newsworthy and shocking than sharing the birth, especially when nobody knew she was actually pregnant.
Maybe Jenner genuinely wanted to avoid the stress of a public pregnancy, but her life is public, and she makes headlines weekly. I cannot imagine that pregnancy news would put more stress on her already publicized life. Her family is very prominent in the social media world because the Kardashians and Jenners alike treat the internet as if it is a business – which it is. Kim Kardashian used her social presence to sell $10 million in perfume just this past week.
On Tuesday, Kylie posted the first photo of her baby girl, Stormi Webster, to her Instagram. It became the most liked photo on the whole platform in under 11 hours, and now has more than 14 million likes.
The large-scale reaction to Jenner’s baby would likely not have happened without months of speculation and rumors surrounding the child. She mobilized the public and gained more than two million fans in the process, with up to 800,000 new Instagram followers each day since the announcement.
Whether or not she intended to garner so much attention from her announcement, she clearly benefited from it. She may not have had a child to increase her fame, but she definitely capitalized on the opportunity.