Image source: Getty / Dimitrios Kambouris
My earliest memories of fashion magazines started when I was a little child when my mother and I visited the library weekly. I was not interested in picking up the illustrated children's books. I was attracted to the glamorous and beautiful women who adorned the shiny covers of fashion magazines. I flipped through the pages without understanding a word.
My obsession followed me through high school as I used my lunch breaks to read every magazine I could get my hands on, including Marie Claire, Fashion, and Elle. I was the nerdy but creative girl who was constantly trying to escape everyday school life and every page inspired me to imagine the good life in front of me.
One day in my late teens I had a conversation with my mother showing my interest in the fashion industry. She expressed her disbelief because the fashion industry wasn't suitable for girls who looked like me. I'm a 4'9 "Arab-American, and I believed it too – why shouldn't I? None of the women in the magazines were like me. My mother suggested that it was better to approach mine Focus on studying and looking for something else that I can be passionate about instead of wasting my time working towards a career that I would never achieve Media remained active.
"If I weren't pretty enough to be featured in a magazine, how about if I found out what was going on behind the scenes instead?" My heart told me. I wanted to know everything about fashion journalism. I researched who is behind the beautiful photos, which stylists make the perfect fashion choice, how the photographer's eye captures the photos and which authors are behind the thoughtful features. I researched women leading publications such as Anna Wintour, Grace Coddington, Emmanuelle Alt, Diana Vreeland, Franca Sozzani and many more. I admired and regarded these women as my role models because of my strength, intelligence and style.
I longed for a woman of color, like an Oprah Winfrey out of fashion, to awaken people's senses. Colored women also have a voice to share.
Nevertheless, my mother's words annoyed me about the lack of diversity at the highest management level in fashion journalism. The few colored women who made it to the top were models, film stars, business women and designers. I longed for a woman of color, like an Oprah Winfrey out of fashion, to awaken people's senses. Colored women also have a voice to share. If we only see colored men who made it, we must acknowledge that stories are still not being told, which further reduces a woman's intelligence, skills, accomplishments, and genius. Their value is further diminished by the wage gap, in which, according to Lean In, black women with advanced degrees earn 35 percent less than men.
When the news came that Samira Nasr had been appointed editor-in-chief of Harper & # 39; s BazaarMy heart was overjoyed. It was one of the few times that I read about a mixed-heritage woman (Lebanese-Trinidadian) who holds a strong position on a major publication. Nasr is more than qualified due to her experience; She holds a Masters in Journalism from New York University, worked as an assistant for Coddington and was a director at Elle and InStyleand served as managing director Vanity Fair.
Still, if you consider the 153-year history Harper & # 39; s Bazaarthis date is long overdue. There are a large number of women of all shapes, identities, forms, experiences and backgrounds that must be represented in the online and print editions of fashion publications. The fashion industry cannot continue to excel and innovate without recognizing the diversity of its readership, innovators, fans and fashion professionals worldwide. Nasr promised to put these voices in the spotlight when she said in an Instagram video message (above): "I will work to give all voices a platform where they can tell stories that would never have been told."
For young girls in color, it is so important to see women who look like you in leadership positions in the fashion industry. These aspiring women need to see opportunities in their future. They need their families to encourage them to enter any field that interests them. They do not have to be judged on their socio-economic background or skin color. Girls deserve to be strengthened by their uniqueness without being held back by them.
The fashion industry cannot continue to excel and innovate without recognizing the diversity of its readership, innovators, fans and fashion professionals worldwide.
Nasr added, "Great style is about more than the way we wear our clothes. It's also about how we see and occupy the space around us."
In our chaotic times, I was inspired by how quickly something changed during the Black Lives Matter movement. Discussions are taking place in every industry and many companies have presented action plans for inclusion and diversity. Nasr's new role gives me hope that this fashion change could have a knock-on effect on other fashion publications.
Thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement for change. Thank you for your persistence, Samira Nasr – I can't wait to see your vision Harper & # 39; s Bazaar.