Shyann Crush Wednesday (#SCW) is a weekly feature highlighting the creatives, entrepreneurs and important influencers that’s inspiring me these days. Let these articles inspire you as you embark on your journey.
When I moved to New York City at 21 as an editorial intern, my greatest dream was to become Editor-in-Chief. It was a goal too intimidating to even say aloud. I was convinced it was totally out of reach for someone with no connections, no trust fund, and no fancy clothes. I pursued the path anyway. Eventually, I started believing the vision placed inside of me. I learned to shrug off the fear of failure, and how to refuse the urge to shrink – even when I was asked to.
For this week’s women crush series, I’ve chosen a woman that has brought so much inspiration to me in these past years – Elaine Welteroth. This week she announced her departure from Teen Vogue, so it was only right to show my appreciation. If you are not familiar with her, last year she made history by becoming the youngest Editor-in-Chief at Teen Vogue and the second black person to ever hold the position in Conde Nast. To give you a little background of Elaine’s journey: she got her start at Ebony as an unpaid intern that led to a paid permanent position as the magazine’s Beauty & Style editor. From there, she joined Glamour as a beauty writer and editor and was promoted as their Beauty and Health director – making her the first black director at the age of 25. At 29 is when she became EIC at Teen Vogue – a journalist dream.
I had an early love for magazines, at a young age, I subscribed to the majority of the top beauty and fashion magazines. My love for these magazines brought on fantasies of one day becoming an editor-in-chief but was discouraged because of the lack of representation. Elaine quickly became my inspiration as she reinvented Teen Vogue, making sure to embrace and respect diversity.
In addition to the fashion stories, pop culture, and beauty, Elaine brought the topics of politics and feminism to the magazine. With articles titled “Cultural Appreciation: Real Girls, Real Beauty, Real Talk” featuring Willow Smith and “I’m Biracial, and People Tell Me I’m Not Black Enough” Teen Vogue now provides readers with representation. The publication still has the fashion tips, skincare, and workout routines, but it is now progressive and empowering. Elaine did that. In her NY Times interview, she stated: “that Teen Vogue has as much right to be at the table, talking about politics, as every woman does in America right now.”
Elaine accomplished a lot of “first” during her time at Teen Vogue. There was an increase on politics and social justice including critical coverage of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The first-ever ‘Teen Vogue Summit’ was launched in Los Angeles featuring keynote speakers, hands-on workshops and mentoring experiences. The keynote speakers included director Ava DuVernay, poet Cleo Wade and actress Amandla Stenberg to name a few. In December 2016, Elaine invited Yara Shahidi and Rowan Blanchard to serve as guest editors, the first-ever in the history of the publication.
In my 20s, I still check Teen Vogue daily. Reading “A LETTER TO MY TEENAGE SELF” by SOLANGE KNOWLES gives me relief that “It’s OK that you don’t know what the future holds.” Ebonee Davis provided real-life gems with her article “HOW TO LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE”, a piece I go back to read quite often whenever I need some encouraging words. My favorite has to be Zendaya Coleman interviewing Michelle Obama about global education for girls. I admire Elaine for not only sharing African American stories but making it a priority to share the stories of women around the world. Without Elaine, we may have never seen these types of stories, and I am so grateful.
Throughout these years, I have seen Elaine WORK. From transforming a magazine to have a profound purpose, elevating her brand to open doors to speaking engagements and most importantly inspiring black women with her success. It is an honor to have Elaine as one of the leaders in this industry; I am very excited to see Elaine’s next steps in her career because, without a doubt, they’ll be great.
Photos courtesy of Elaine’s Instagram and NY Times.