It was the shirt meme-d ‘round the world. For several years, a snap of famous 2000's socialite, Paris Hilton, appearing to sport a shirt emblazoned with “Stop Being Poor” across the chest was embraced as a widely beloved reaction meme. Used mostly by the American middle class to discuss the often aloof nature of the wealthy, the image, in all its Hilton-esque glory, quickly became a crucial element of the late 20-teens Twitter zeitgeist, offering means of commenting on several important political and financial matters with the support of the smiling aughts icon. 

Yet as we all know, not everything we see and love on the internet is true, a sentiment the Hotel heiress herself reiterated earlier this week in a TikTok breaking her silence on the controversial, albeit widely-embraced snap. “So there's this photo online of me, I'm sure you've seen it,” Hilton said, the picture superimposed behind her. “I never wore that shirt. This was completely photoshopped. Everyone thinks this is real, but that's not the truth."


With Hilton denying ever appearing in such a shirt – with the images to prove it -- how, exactly did that iconic photo find viral fame online? The answer, like that of many strange things over the past several years, comes down to Republican politics and good ‘ol Photoshop. The actual shirt Hilton wore in the infamous snap actually read “Stop Being Desperate,” an item from a 2005 fashion line designed by her younger sister Nicky Rothschild (neé Hilton) named Chick, Vogue noted. 

Several years later, the image was altered to read “Stop Being Poor," an edit likely inspired by some Statesian left-winger's opinions on the American Health Care Act of 2017, which partially repealed The Affordable Care Act – a.k.a ObamaCare. Although as Know Your Meme noted, a shirt featuring the phrase was available for sale on Amazon roughly two years earlier, providing some precedent for Hilton's fictitious fit. 

 Since then, the image went absolutely viral, finding itself a staple reaction meme to many discussing economic policy …

… ways to prevent Covid-19 … 

… the struggles of making bank off of cryptocurrency …

… and chit-chatting with the wealthy …

… all while inspiring a healthy handful of Halloween costumes. 

That's Hot …

… Spooky, but hot. 

Yet as Vogue noted, if you were convinced that Hilton actually would don such a brash shirt, you're not entirely off base. the socialite has worn her fair share of shocking graphic tees, including a shirt featuring her catchphrase, “That’s Hot” on the chest, with “Your Not” (sans the ”'re") appearing on the back. Ouch. 

So folks, take it from the Hilton heiress herself, stop being desperate – to believe everything you see online. Fact-checking – that's hot. 

For more internet nonsense, follow Carly on Instagram at @HuntressThompson_, on @HuntressThompson_ and on Twitter @TennesAnyone. 

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