Two weeks ago I received an e-mail from Fashionista.com updating me on the latest fashion news that included three topics. “How to Write the Best Resume For a Job in Fashion” and tips on “How to Make It as a Beauty Editor,” but it was “Amy Astley Leaving ‘Teen Vogue'” that caught my attention. After 13 years at the top of Teen Vogue’s masthead, I wondered who would replace Amy as the Editor-in-Chief. As I continued to scroll down, I saw the well-deserving woman was Elaine Welteroth.
At that moment, I gasped, my jaw dropped, and eyes widened right before filling with tears ready to stream down. Immediately, I refreshed my e-mail and reverted back to the same message. It did not appear to be a typo, and I could not believe it. This was and still is major fashion news that broke, as I stated, two weeks ago. However, I felt it was necessary to hold off on writing about it for two reasons: to get my emotions in tact, and to make sure it was true.
Don’t get me wrong, I was not feeling this way because I thought Elaine was incapable of handling the new job or that Fashionista (along with a press release from Anna Wintour herself) was not a credible source, but because in over 100 years, Elaine will now only be the second African-American woman holding the coveted title as Editor-in-Chief of a Conde Nast publication. The first is Keija Minor of Brides Magazine. After going to Elaine’s Twitter account and not seeing any updates from her, I panicked. Not for once did I think she could just be out celebrating the promotion with her closest friends and family instead of updating her 17,000 followers. I felt let down and defeated. I needed confirmation.
Searching her name on Twitter did not really help. I just saw other young, black hopefuls begging for the news to be true, but there was nothing legitimate. After releasing a dramatic sigh, my intuition told me to check Twitter’s Moments feature, and there it read, “Teen Vogue Names Youngest Editor-in-Chief to Date.” Elaine had an entire story dedicated to her promotion! As I swiped through the moments, I began to see more and more publications discussing the historic moment.
Elaine spent time at Glamour and Ebony as a Beauty & Style Editor prior to joining Teen Vogue as the Beauty and Health Director for three years. While under her tutelage, actress and social activist, Amandla Stenberg, became a cover star and was given more of a global platform to further convey her views on cultural appropriation and the importance of black women originally expressed in her discourse, Don’t Cash Crop on My Cornrows. In addition to the cover story, Amandla had the opportunity to co-direct a three-part #BlackGirlMagic video series (Hair Stories, Things Black Girls Are Tired of Hearing, and My Black Is…) that included other notable black women in fashion, media and activism such as Julia Sarr-Jamois, Johnetta Elzie, Franchesca Ramsey, TK Wonder, Cipriana Quann, and Camonghne Felix.
The black girl reign did not let up. Months after this, Elaine wrote a cover story that gave readers an in-depth look into the eclectic, stylish, and fascinating world of Willow Smith.
For those who did not know, “one of Willow’s favorite topics is changing perceptions about women and girls of color in spaces where they are underrepresented.” Willow was also gushing and adorably still in awe about her new role as a Chanel ambassador, “Being a young, African-American woman with dreads, it blows my mind that I’m a Chanel ambassador. Like, how am I a Chanel ambassador?”
It was easy to notice a sense of comfort and relief from both Amandla and Willow when talking to Elaine for their cover stories. Instead of feeling like a forced, stiff interview, it seemed as if they were just kickin’ it with their homegirl. Elaine is necessary to say the least. Her representation, not only at Teen Vogue with her new title, but within the entire fashion industry gives young, black women hope of breaking into the competitive industry that often depicts Europeans as the only acceptable talent and standard of beauty.
Congratulations, Elaine. Thank you for all of your hard work and continuing to break down barriers for the talented, fashion-loving black girls. Your efforts will never go unnoticed and we are all excited to see you excel as the Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue.
Featured Image Credit: The Undefeated
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