It’s been 15 years since The Simple Life first appeared on our screens, turning socialites Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie into household names.
But it was at the height of this fame that a sex tape between Hilton and her ex-boyfriend, Rick Salomon, was leaked in 2004.
In a new Netflix documentary by Bert Marcus called The American Meme, Hilton, 37, wiped back tears as she shared how the tape impacted her life.
“Literally overnight my entire life changed. It was all over every news station, every single talk show host, everyone was making fun of it,” she said. “It was insane.”
“I didn’t leave my house for, like months. I was so embarrassed. I felt like everyone on the street was laughing at me. I literally could not walk on the street because I felt like every single person had watched it, had seen me naked and was talking behind my back.”
She then added, “It was like being raped. It felt like I’ve lost part of my soul and been talked about in such cruel and mean ways”.
Clearly still affected today, Hilton admitted she “wanted to die” at some points after its release.
“I was like ‘I just don’t want to live’ because I thought everything was taken away from me. I didn’t want to be known as that. I would never be who I could’ve been.”
It’s a heartbreaking moment to watch – and it really makes you think about how differently we talk about women’s experiences now.
As Hilton said, jokes were made on every late night TV show including SNL and the Late Show with David Letterman.
While we still have some major issues in 2018, in 2004 making fun of a woman whose sex tape leaked – without her consent – was considered to be an acceptable joke. It is, of course, not at all.
Hilton ends her segment in the documentary reflecting on her life over the past two decades of fame and the pressure she’s under to “have a legacy”.
“The whole reality show world, or that whole industry, you don’t really grow up,” she said. “You’re almost like, stuck in this character. I’m a 21-year-old for the last two decades.
“It’s just all part of an image and a brand and being a product. It’s like groundhog day. Everything I do is just the same sh*t, different day.
“I already do have a legacy, but once you start that, you just can’t stop. A lot of people don’t understand that you need to be sustainable forever.”