Paris loses shackles
To her critics, she is a symbol of shallow materialism, naked ambition and unbridled arrogance.
But Paris Hilton, pictured, has never felt the need to apologise for living a jet-setting lifestyle.
The 26-year-old heiress to the Hilton hotel empire, who was freed yesterday after 23 days in jail for driving-related offences, acquired a taste for luxury as a child, including a period when her family lived in a suite at New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
The eldest of four children, Hilton stands to inherit millions of dollars of her family's hotel fortune.
But she has become independently wealthy in the past decade thanks to her looks, her name, and her knack of making headlines at key moments in her life.
"A lot of my friends still don't have a job and they live at home and have to ask their parents for everything," she said in a recent interview.
"I haven't accepted money from my parents since I was 18. Since then, I've worked on my own."
A high-school drop-out, Hilton first began to be noticed while working as a model for property tycoon Donald Trump's agency. She rapidly acquired a reputation as a party girl along with her sister, Nicky Hilton.
But it was the release of an Internet home sex video featuring her and then boyfriend Rick Salomon that catapulted her into the public consciousness.
Hilton claimed to be mortified at the appearance of the sex tape, but sceptics have noted that it appeared just before the premiere of her reality television show The Simple Life, with friend Nicole Ritchie.