Elaine Welteroth, Teen Vogue’s Refashionista


Jazmine Hughes in The NYT Magazine:

Welteroth’s guiding instinct was that Teen Vogue needed to widen its scope beyond beauty and fashion. ‘‘I felt like there was an opportunity to go a little deeper and to feature a different type of girl: someone who actually used their platform to be a role model and to be a thought leader. There was something shifting in the zeitgeist.’’ If it was going to continue to exist as a teen magazine, it would have to acknowledge that its readers cared about politics and social activism and sexual identity, topics it had avoided in the past.

Five months later, after the presidential election, Teen Vogue published an online-only article by Lauren Duca titled, ‘‘Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America,’’ and suddenly, adults started paying attention. When Welteroth appeared on ‘‘The Daily Show’’ with Picardi, Trevor Noah asked them a question that, presumably, most of his audience was thinking: How had Teen Vogue established itself as a formidable source of politi­cal commentary? ‘‘If you guys have haters who say, ‘What do you guys know about journalism?’ how do you respond?’’ Noah asked. Picardi, who edited Duca’s article, snickered. But Welteroth grew serious. By that point, she had published four issues, including a ‘‘For Girls, by Girls’’ issue, which featured an essay by Hillary Clinton, along with interviews of Loretta Lynch, who was then the attorney general, carried out by the actress Yara Shahidi, and the activist Gloria Steinem, conducted by the actress Amandla Stenberg. Her ‘Smart Girls Speak Up!’’ issue, guest-edited by Shahidi and the actress Rowan Blanchard, suggested Ta-Nahisi Coates’s ‘‘Between the World and Me’’ and ‘‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’’ by Zora Neale Hurston as book-club picks.

More here.