Elaine Welteroth has always been a mover; at least that is what her mother would tell you.
From a very young age, whether it was when she was mad from the times her plastic walker would get stuck in a corner, or from the very first time she started walking when she got her first pair of sparkling pink Reeboks, it was evident that she was born to move.
From these early childhood moments until now, Welteroth knows how to keep moving, and how to help others keep moving, even when they get stuck in a corner.
There are three main lessons from her book, “More than Enough,” which include:
- Embracing her Racial Identity at an early age
- How breaking up with her first love led to her mainstream questioning messages about race
- Elaine’s experiences in life helped her become Editor-in-Chief at Teen Vogue
Lesson 1: Embracing her Racial Identity at an early age
One day, while at preschool, the kids were asked to make a collage of their families using images from a magazine. This project seemed easy enough, except Elaine did not look like everyone else within the school.
The town she was raised in was predominantly white, and while her dad was also white, her mom was black. The magazines she had to choose from were of all white people, so instead of truly showing her family, she portrayed everyone in her family as white.
When Elaine’s mother saw this, she helped Elaine redo her project by picking out pictures out of magazines that were not provided at the school, which more accurately portrayed her mother and brother.
Her mother then pinned the collage above her bed as a reminder that she was perfect the way she is, and she as herself is more than enough.
Lesson 2: Breaking up with her first love led to her questioning mainstream messages about race
Elaine had just received a call from her first love during the Christmas Break of her freshman year at college. He was in jail and would be for the next few months. She went to visit him often, but knew life had to be better than this, and broke up with him.
Shortly after the breakup, she had a professor who helped restore her internal compass, as well as assisting elaine to unpack a whole life of self-hate. Elaine started to notice more and more that mainstream America would only portray African-American’s who looked like white people watch, which meant lighter skin and straight hair.
Elaine knew that her career path would lead her down a road that would help legitimize women of color through images found in both magazines and television.
She also spent more time developing her friendships with African-Americans, while even letting her hair grown out naturally and not being as concerned with how straight it was.
Lesson 3: Elaine’s experiences in life helped her become Editor-in-Chief at Teen Vogue
Soon, Elaine was experiencing a lot of success in a short amount of time. With a quick timeframe, Elaine became Editor of Teen Vogue, and shortly after that, was named Editor-in-Chief.
Shonda Rhimes helped coin a phrase that epitomized Elaine, which is FOD – First, Only and Different.
While attempting to balance the idea of championing all African-Americans, she knew she had to pick and choose the best ways to do this. She did some feature stories on prominent models and actresses and covered some salient issues like Black Price and Cultural Appropriation.
She also made sure African-Americans were also represented behind the scenes as well, being brought in to Photograph specific stories, as well as within the hair and makeup realm.
Her reach within Teen Vogue came to a halt in 2017 when the company decided to stop publication. Although she could’ve stayed with this company, Elaine has never been one to stop moving, so she continues to forge her own path, knowing that who she is and what she has done is more than enough.
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