A few years ago, one of my exes, who worked as an engineer told me a girl was going on a work camping trip with them. After my sufficient (and quite unnecessary freak out, even I didn’t want to sleep with my boyfriend at the time, let alone others) moaning about the fact I wasn’t allowed to go and she was, he explained that she worked there.
This, I am ashamed to say, struck me as weird. Why would a GIRL want to work at Dagenham Ford? Come in every day in overalls? Get wound up something chronic daily by all the male staff? Get greasy and dirty?
Then it hit me. I was being so sexist, I might as well be wearing a loin cloth and beating someone over the head with a club for their hunk of raw meat. The reason she does all those things, is because she wants to be a bloody engineer. The same as I want to be a social media mogul and magazine editor. That’s what she wants to do, and she needs to do these things that may be unpleasant to do them.
Now, fortunately, after ridding myself of a few people who were not in any way good for my personality, I am not only a very fair minded person who is a staunch feminist, but I am also in the position where I know how sometimes you need to do horrible things to look out for your career options.
One thing that strikes me though, is the double standards people practise when it comes to feminism. The same people who watch ‘Made In Dagenham’ and jump for joy when the ladies finally get equal pay will watch the September Issue or Devil Wears Prada and happily call Ann Wintour a ‘cold hearted bitch’. Opinion is opinion, but you have to ask yourself, would a man get called this for aiming to be successful?
Anna Wintour had a great head start into the publishing world. She is the Daughter of Charles Wintour, who was an editor for the Evening Standard. Does this mean her success was handed to her on a plate? Certainly not. It was evident when Teen Vogue hired Lauren Conrad, and made a huge point of saying they would of hired her had it or had it not been for ‘The Hills’ that no one tells Vogue what to do. So did Daddies connections give Anna a head start in print? Certainly not.
Anna always had an interest in fashion, and states in the September issue that her Grandmother sent her copies of ‘Seventeen’ from America quite frequently. Although she claims her Father probably decided for her she should work in fashion, arranging her first job at ‘Biba boutique’ when she was 15, her passion for the subject drove her to succeed far beyond his expectations.
It was the UK version of Harpers Bazaar that gave Anna her first break as a fashion editor. She had various jobs and dalliances with Conde Nast after this tenure at Harpers Bazaar, and had earned her nickname ‘Nuclear Wintour’ before finally taking over the helm of US Vogue in 1988.
1988 is the year I was born, and I’m 27. That means this woman has been running the magazine since I was born. It can be easy to watch or read ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and take it as absolute fact with not a touch of fiction, but is Anna’s personality really that bad? If it is, does she really need to apologize for it?
It was Anna Wintours decision to put celebrities on the cover. This forward thinking approach, ending the era of a the supermodel was one of her best moves, and she coupled this with the practise of mixing low end clothes with high fashion pieces on covers and shoots. In one hit, Wintour became the soul reason this high end glossy magazine became accessible to a whole new market. Wintour made the magazine that was only accessible for around 20% of the population accessible to everyone. These changes resulted in a lot better circulation for the magazine, and Anna became the fashion powerhouse she remains today.
With all this success under her belt, it’s not surprising the Editor does not mince her words. She once told Oprah she would need to lose twenty pounds for her cover shoot, and when Hilary Clinton said she thought being on the cover would make her appear too feminine, Anna hit back that “The notion that a contemporary woman must look mannish in order to be taken seriously as a seeker of power is frankly dismaying”.
So is Anna too blunt? Flagrantly rude? Or maybe, just maybe, Lauren Weisberger was a little bit of a drama queen and couldn’t handle working for a woman that knew what she want, and wanted it done yesterday.
I read Vogue every month, and trying to run a company and keep up a blog is incredibly stressful and busy. So sometimes, just for a laugh, I put myself in Anna Wintours shoes. Dealing every minute of every day with other Editors, photographers, models, advertisers, any Tom, Dick and Harry who wants your time not only warrants you to be a bit blunt, but I would be being down right short with people if this was my life.
Yes, politeness is free, my Nan always taught me that. But I have to admit there are some days when I am just so busy I forget to text back. That could easily transcend to real life if I had my own office. If I were running a magazine, no, I wouldn’t have time to make small talk about X Factor with all of my staff, because I would be rushing into my office to make sure that magazine I was editing would be the absolute best on the stand.
And the part of the tale that really gets my goat? Is Anna Wintour was a male, she would surely be congratulated on being such a ‘ball buster’. Lets face it Steve Jobs wasn’t exactly known for being friendly to his staff, but did any of them write a ‘tell all’ book and film about him? No. Because he is male, and that is perfectly acceptable.
So next time you flick over and watch ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and think about how rude Anna Wintour is, or how horrible she is to her staff, do yourself a favour. Go and pick up a copy of Vogue and see how much you enjoy it.