Paris Hilton Enters Her “Mom Era”
With new baby girl London rounding out her “cutesy crew,” the reality TV icon is learning how to be a homebody: “My life is finally complete.”
Paris Hilton really, really wanted a daughter. She wanted a daughter so badly that five weeks before her son, Phoenix, was born via surrogate this past January, Hilton and her husband, venture capitalist Carter Reum, were already trying for another surrogate pregnancy: undergoing a fresh round of in vitro fertilization, injecting Hilton’s belly with hormones and, through her whimpers of pain, pleading for a girl. On the morning of Hilton’s egg retrieval, she dressed to manifest the sex of her next baby: hot pink terry cloth tracksuit, blush pink bucket hat, and a Barbie-pink quilted Chanel purse.
About a year later, when I meet her at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York, in the middle of a 24-hour press blitz for the second season of her Peacock reality show, Paris in Love, Hilton is beaming. Days earlier, only 10 months after welcoming Phoenix, she finally got her girl, London Marilyn Hilton Reum. Like her mother, London is named for an iconic European metropolis; Marilyn is an homage to Hilton’s late paternal grandmother. Hilton’s house is already festooned with pink Christmas trees, and she is “over the moon.”
“I always imagined my mini-me, putting her in little dresses and all the mommy-and-me things we could do together,” says Hilton, drinking a venti chai with coconut milk through an on-brand pink straw. “Just having my little best friend.” She’s wearing a red Rebecca Vallance cocktail dress bedazzled with crystal bows, nude fishnets, and silver heels. Her face is still glazed with TV-ready bronzer, after a morning filming back-to-back segments with Hoda & Jenna, Kelly & Mark, and Kelly Clarkson. “I miss her so much,” she says of London, who is home in L.A. Along with Reum, Hilton’s entourage fills a conference room: publicists, photographers, videographers. Her whole life is content, as Hilton probably knows better than anyone. She speaks, at first, in her patented baby-soft voice, which in person is as soothing as ASMR. “I’m in my Mom Era,” Hilton says. “This is my best era yet.”
To go from zero to two babies in the same calendar year would boggle most parental minds, but Hilton projects total serenity. The former host of Ibiza’s Foam & Diamonds party has been blessed with quiet nights. “They are such good babies. They’re on an amazing sleep schedule, eating schedule, so they don’t cry. They’re so happy,” Hilton says. She is transparent about child care, featuring her hard-working “baby nanny” on the new season of Paris in Love (now streaming). “I feel so lucky because all my other friends who have kids are like, ‘I’m up all night. They’re crying all night.’ My babies, they’re just so calm, so chill.”
For all the versions of Paris that have played out in her two decades of fame — party girl, The Simple Life starlet, tabloid punching bag, and now entrepreneur and New York Times-bestselling author of Paris: The Memoir — Hilton, 42, has longed for motherhood for some time. She’s had baby clothes in storage for years. Before reconnecting with Reum (whom she’s known since her 20s) four Thanksgivings ago at his sister’s house, she froze her eggs and was considering single motherhood. Burned by past relationships and engagements, Hilton remembers thinking, “I’d rather just have my own children by myself.”
Before Reum, “I was always searching,” Hilton tells me. “Even if I was in a relationship, I was always looking for something else.” Now, with a loving and supportive partner, plus their two babies, Hilton says she has found a sense of peace — her own version of the simple life.
“I feel like my life is finally complete,” she says. “We’re the cutesy crew.” That alliterative catchphrase dates back to her 2021 wedding at the former Bel-Air estate of her grandfather, Conrad Hilton, where Reum vowed, “I can’t wait for forever with our cutesy crew.” Phoenix and London join the crew’s teacup canine members, including Ether, Crypto, Prince Tokyo Gizmo Hilton, and Slivington — a riff on “sliving,” Hilton’s go-to portmanteau of “slaying” and “living.”
“If I never had to go into another club again, I’d be happy.”
Hilton “is such a doting mother,” says her younger sister, Nicholai “Nicky” Rothschild, a mom of three herself. “I always joke: If her dogs are any indication about what kind of mother she’ll be, it’s going to be pretty fabulous.”
Although the timing of Hilton’s growing family may seem like a chaotic coincidence, she is grateful it happened as it did. “We wanted them to be close in age so they could grow up together,” she says. And she’s glad Phoenix arrived first. (Hilton has no particular emotional attachment to the city of Phoenix, Arizona, but she liked the idea of referencing River Phoenix and the symbolism of a “magical, rising phoenix.”)
“He’s going to be the protective big brother,” she predicts, sharing that Phoenix is already gently petting London’s head. The high chirp of Hilton’s voice falls ever so slightly as she shifts the conversation from bubbly “It’s a girl!” chat to the difficult and traumatic past she has begun to share with the world. “I wish I had a big brother growing up,” Hilton says. “So many bad things that happened wouldn’t have happened if I had a big brother at school to watch and protect me.”
Before her kids were even born, Paris Hilton was already deciding what kind of mom she wanted to be.
Only Hilton and Reum knew their surrogate was pregnant with Phoenix. In a stirring scene from Season 2 of Paris in Love, Hilton tells her mother, socialite and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills adjacent Kathy Hilton, that she has a surprise for her, leaves the room to fetch “it,” then returns with her bundled newborn son.
Why did she keep her babies a secret until they were born? “My life has been so public, so out there. I didn’t want my son coming into this world with any negative energy,” Hilton explains to me. “I’m really happy I did it that way, just for Carter and I to have that journey together without the outside world chirping in.” With London, Kathy and Nicky knew she was expecting a daughter, but on an unspecified date; Hilton and Reum surprised the family by unveiling London just before they all sat down for Thanksgiving dinner.
For someone who has no qualms about sharing intimate family time — Paris in Love movingly captures the moment she and Reum meet Phoenix at the hospital — why was she so phobic about anyone, even close family members, posting pictures of Phoenix online?
“My narrative and my story has been told by the media for half my life, and I just didn’t want my child being put out into the world without me being in control,” she said. “You become a mama bear.”
Hilton’s anxieties were validated this fall after she started sharing more photos of Phoenix, only for trolls to speculate cruelly about the size of his head. (“My angel is perfectly healthy,” she fired back on social media. “He has been to a doctor, he just has a large brain.”) “Say what you want about me, but this is a little, innocent baby,” Hilton laments to me, her eyes narrowing with anger. “The fact that there’s people that are sick in the head that they would go and talk about a child like that made me so angry. It just made me think: These people are the exact reason why I kept him a secret.”
Most delicate of all: Why did she decide to use a surrogate? It’s a personal question to which Hilton doesn’t owe anyone an explanation, but she gets right into it. “I just have so much PTSD from what I went through as a teenager,” she says.
In her 2020 YouTube documentary, This Is Paris, and in her memoir released in March, Hilton alleged that as a teen she’d been physically, sexually, and emotionally abused during an 11-month stint at Utah’s Provo Canyon School for troubled youth, including being woken in the middle of the night and subjected to nonconsensual gynecological examinations. “I cried while they held me down & said, ‘No!’ They just said, ‘Shut up. Be quiet. Stop struggling,’” she recalled on Twitter last year. (Provo Canyon School has since been acquired by a different company, Universal Health Services, which said in a statement to Romper that it cannot comment on prior “operations of student experience.”)
“Being a mom now, I can totally understand just how scared she was, even though I wasn't a bad kid. All I did was sneak out, go to clubs, and get bad grades.”
Lingering trauma made it feel untenable for Hilton to carry her and Reum’s children; she has said she fears childbirth almost as much as death. “If I’m in a doctor’s office, I get a shot, anything, I will literally have a panic attack and I can’t breathe,” she tells me. “I just knew that would not be healthy for me or the baby, growing inside of someone who has such high anxiety.” On Paris in Love, Hilton describes holding Phoenix and flashing back to “horrible things” that happened to her in the past. “Stealing my happiness,” she nods before me.
After Provo, Hilton buried the alleged abuse. She didn’t trust therapists because of her experiences with the school, and she’s said officials there convinced her that friends and family wouldn’t believe her. So she partied the pain away. “Going out at night would drown out my nightmares,” she says. “I know it’s weird to say I felt safe in the nightlife, but I did.” As The Simple Life raised her profile, Hilton found relief in projecting “this perfect Barbie-doll life” and leaning into the dumb-blond act the world expected from her: “I was wearing this mask, like a survival technique.”
Filming the new season of Paris in Love “kind of forced” Hilton to see a therapist, who, on-camera, recognizes her flashbacks as symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. “Ever since I opened up and let that out, it no longer happens,” Hilton now says. “It frees you.” Advocacy work has also helped. In Washington in April, she helped introduce a bipartisan bill to reform the “troubled teen industry” with notable sponsors including Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Ro Khanna. She lobbied the Utah state Senate, which passed a measure regulating treatment programs like Provo, in 2021.
“She got to the point,” Nicky says, “where she was like, ‘I don’t want to have these secrets. People have been writing things about me, lots of them untrue, for many, many years. I’m going to take my narrative into my own hands.’”
Making Paris in Love has been a “healing experience” for Hilton and her mother. She says she forgives Kathy and her dad, Rick Hilton, for sending her to Provo. Now as a mother herself, Hilton can empathize with her own. “I can’t imagine if I moved to New York City and all of a sudden London is sneaking out every night and I’m just going into her room and she’s gone. I would be terrified,” she says. “I can totally understand just how scared she was, even though I wasn’t a bad kid. All I did was sneak out, go to clubs, and get bad grades,” though Hilton notes that she faltered in school because of undiagnosed attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
She believes she was rebelling against her parents’ strictness. With her own children, she’s already aiming to be a more open mom. “It’s really important to have your kids feel comfortable to tell you anything and feel like they’re not going to get in trouble,” she says. Then again, “I’m probably going to be really strict, too, because it’s a scary world out there, especially today,” Hilton says. “I’m just terrified when they become teenagers.”
For a fleeting moment, Paris Hilton sounds just like any other middle-aged mom of two.
There’s another reason why Hilton decided to have her kids via surrogate: She couldn’t figure out how to make time for pregnancy her way. “My schedule is out of control,” she says with an earnest sigh. Her days are often planned a year in advance. “There never would’ve been the right time to do it because there’s literally no time to do anything in my life.”
A noncomprehensive list of her current jobs includes: reality star; face of Hilton Hotels; founder of her media company, 11:11, which produces her interview and advice podcast, I Am Paris; purveyor of 29 fragrances since 2004, with revenue estimated by Forbes to be $2.5 billion; pop star plotting a comeback — more on that shortly — and hatcher of lines of cookware, tracksuits, pet clothes, and cosmetics, to name a few.
Hilton hasn’t taken any kind of maternity leave with either of her babies. In the days after bringing Phoenix home, she ducked out for a Glamour UK shoot and flew to Orlando for a previously booked DJ gig. Her sister brought tough love. “You don’t need the money,” Nicky chastises her in one tense scene from Paris in Love, nuzzling Phoenix on her shoulder. “This should be the priority.” (“I know I do come off, sometimes, harsh with her,” Nicky tells me, “but someone’s got to do it.”)
Keeping Phoenix a secret until his birth, Hilton reasons, meant continuing to plan engagements like her book tour so no one would suspect anything. Having grown up in the Hilton dynasty, she says work has also been a much-needed source of independence and agency. “I always really equated success to freedom,” she says. Insecurity probably played a big part, too. Hilton, who had never even babysat, admits she suffered from a lack of confidence: “It was all so new to me, having this little delicate angel.” Her breakneck schedule made it hard to bond with her son at first, which likely only compounded things. On Paris in Love, during Nicky’s first visit, it’s revealed that Hilton had yet to change then-1-month-old Phoenix’s diaper.
“If I’m in a doctor's office, I get a shot, anything, I will literally have a panic attack. I just knew that would not be healthy for me or the baby.”
With London, she’s still a workaholic, as evidenced by her packed morning of TV appearances. But she is better at heeding Nicky’s advice and that of the rest of her core mom group: her sister-in-law Tessa Hilton (wife of her brother, Barron); cousin Brooke Brinson (daughter of Kathy’s sister, Kim Richards); and Reum’s sister, Halle Hammond. They’re all going to Cabo for Christmas together with their broods. Hilton works as much as possible from home, where she has podcast and photo studios and, naturally, a sliving spa. “I’ve lived this really full and exciting life, but nothing has made me so happy as seeing my baby boy laugh or smile for the first time,” Hilton says. Phoenix just started dancing — to a song he’s been hearing since he was in the womb: Hilton’s 2006 hit, “Stars Are Blind.”
Hilton says she’s finally releasing a follow-up to her debut album, which, in the 17 years since, has earned cult-favorite status among pop-loving millennials. The new record, expected early next year, is executive produced by Sia, who offered Hilton a ride home on her plane after they performed on Miley’s New Year’s Eve Party special last year and, according to Hilton, told her: “You were born to be a pop star.” Hilton was in the studio a week later. She teases a ballad with Sia and says Meghan Trainor wrote on several songs and features on one, too. “I just feel like someone needed to save pop music,” she says with the slightest hint of bubbly sarcasm, “so I came to the rescue.”
Hilton occupies a ubiquitous, millennial Kevin Bacon-ish place in Hollywood: Pre-mogulhood, Kim Kardashian was her closet organizer. In Britney Spears’ new memoir, she thanks Hilton for her kindness when she needed it most. (Hilton claims to have invented the selfie, with Spears at her side, on a disposable camera, also 17 years ago, though this is disputed.) Today, amid waves of early-2000s nostalgia, the fairy godmother of influencers is happy to embrace her legacy. Her life story is getting the TV treatment, with Dakota and Elle Fanning and A24 — the buzzy studio behind Euphoria — adapting her memoir. Hilton is coy about who should play her, but allows that both Fannings are possibilities. The Fanning sisters charmed Hilton with stories about dressing up as Hilton and Nicole Richie on The Simple Life when they were younger. That show just celebrated its 20-year anniversary, and Hilton has been relishing its renaissance on TikTok without any cringe. “Nicole was just over last month and we were watching episodes together and just laughing,” she says.
“It’s really important to have your kids feel comfortable to tell you anything and feel like they’re not going to get in trouble.”
Though Hilton was mocked and maligned in her ascendancy, she can’t imagine that the same vitriolic press coverage directed at her and Richie, Spears, and Lindsay Lohan would fly with today’s it girls. “We walked so they could run,” Hilton muses.
As for her own partying, Hilton has retired. “I don’t go out for fun,” she says, sounding exhausted at the thought. “If I never had to go into another club again, I’d be happy.”
For her, there’s no hotter spot than the Tuscan-style “princess house” in L.A.’s Beverly Park community, where Hilton and Reum moved just before Phoenix was born. “We just stay in. I like to cook. I like to be at home with the babies, the puppies." She can’t wait to do holidays there with her family; to be Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. “I’m such a kid at heart,” Hilton says. (We bond over a shared love of Hello Kitty; she decorates the shelves of her New York apartment with My Little Ponies.) “I love that I’m able to relive my childhood, in a way.”
Hilton would already prefer that Phoenix and London don’t go into the industry, given the toxicity she knows too well. “I'm hoping that they want to be scientists,” she says. And while two children seems like the “perfect” number, she doesn’t rule out wanting a sister for London or a brother for Phoenix.
Talking about all of this, Hilton knows, is a paradigm shift. “I used to look at my friends who’d be like, ‘Oh, I have to go home to my kids and my husband,’ like, ‘You’re so lame. This is so fun. I can’t imagine being like that,’” she recalls. “Now I’m one of those boring people, and I couldn’t be happier. I couldn’t imagine it any other way.” For Hilton, being boring is kind of sliving.
Top image credits: Valentino dress and shoes, Poppy Lissiman sunglasses, Jennifer Behr earrings
Photographs by Danielle Levitt
Styling by Tiffany Reid
Set Design by Montana Pugh for MHS Artists
Hair: Eduardo Ponce
Makeup: Melissa Hurkman
Manicure: Mamie Onishi
Talent Bookings: Special Projects
Director of Photography: David Raboy
Associate Creative Director, Video: Samuel Schultz
Photo Director: Alex Pollack
Editor in Chief: Elizabeth Angell
SVP Fashion: Tiffany Reid
SVP Creative: Karen Hibbert