When Paris Hilton woke up on Tuesday (July 27) morning, she was ready to dive into a full day of press for her new Netflix series, Cooking With Paris. She was not, however, planning to field questions about the pregnancy rumours that had spread online, after a tabloid report was published, stating that the socialite-turned-businesswoman is expecting her first child, which Hilton says is not true.
Although Hilton is used to rumours being spread about her, she tells Variety that the false report, which spread like wildfire across international outlets and on social media, highlights the mistreatment of women in media.
Shortly after the rumours began circulating on Tuesday, Hilton went on her podcast to deny the report, originally published in Page Six. Later, the gossip site edited their headline to rephrase that Hilton is "allegedly" pregnant, according to a "source".
"It's incredible that I can just talk to you guys and tell you all what's happening right away, instead of the media always controlling the narrative and controlling my story, as they have for many, many years," Hilton said yesterday on her This Is Paris podcast. "I'm just over it. I'm sick of people making up things.
False pregnancy reports are old practice in the tabloid world, but in the age of women's voices being heard in the post-#MeToo era, such rumors are perceived differently, shining a light on the media's negative framing around women.
In fact, renewed interest in Britney Spears, one of Hilton's friends, and her conservatorship case also exemplifies the new lens in which female celebrities are reclaiming their own stories and being heard and believed.
Shortly after the false pregnancy rumour leaked, Hilton spoke to Variety about how the industry has changed over the past two decades since she became a tabloid magnet who was scrutinized for her every move. Sure, Hilton capitalised off of the heavy attention and paparazzi spotlight, creating an impressive and lucrative empire that she built herself. But now, at 40 years old, Hilton says that things need to change.
"When I started out in this industry, I had no control over anything," Hilton tells Variety. "Starting out in the early 2000s, I noticed that women were just vilified in ways that men would never be - maybe for dating someone, or for the way they lived their life. Women have always been talked down on, and if a man did the same exact thing, no one would say anything."
Hilton - who revealed that she was undergoing IVF treatment this past January and hopes to have children in 2022 after her wedding to her fiance, Cater Reum - says that even though she's used to reading rumours about herself, having a deeply personal story being falsely reported is tough, even for a famous figure like herself.
"Just waking up to that, well, it's not true," Hilton firmly says to Variety. "It's annoying that people can just make up something like that about someone. People should do their research before putting something out -- especially something so personal, especially when I never said that was the case."
Hilton says that when she was starting out in the limelight in her teens, her mother, Kathy, would tell her not to respond to false tabloid reports because she would draw unnecessary attention to nonsense. But now, Hilton feels it's important to speak up.
"I just feel like it's important to tell the truth. People shouldn't just get away with making up stories," Hilton tells Variety. "I was just wearing a pushup bra for my new lingerie line - I thought it was making me look sexy, but I guess they thought I was pregnant."
In a sombre tone, Hilton continues: "So, umm, yeah. There's just...I don't know. I'm used to it, but I don't think it should happen. I think people should be more responsible with what they put out into the world."
Hilton says that social media has changed the game for women in Hollywood, who can now call out false stories instantly on their own platform.
"I love having my podcast and this platform where I can actually come out and tell the truth," she says. "Now, there have been so many articles written about the mistreatment of women in the media, it's like a different world now, especially with people having social media and their own platforms to come out and say what their truth is. Technology and people being able to get their voice out there has made a huge difference."
Hilton says that there is "100%" a double standard in media, but she does believe the treatment of women is improving, although too slowly given the long-held systemic norms in Hollywood.
"Now that people are actually speaking up and holding people accountable, it's stopping," says Hilton. "But I still see it a lot. It's been like that for so long that it's been normalised. But I do see change happening and I see so many women standing up for themselves and saying what's right."
"This happens a lot," Hilton continues. "Not just only in the entertainment world and the business world, but in so many parts of life. I do see change happening, but not all the way. There is so much more work to be done." – Reuters