The dumb fashion girl fights back

I try not to ever write from a place of emotion. As a journalist I know that makes pieces biased. But I have gotten to the point where it’s a daily occurrence that I come home from school, curl up in my bed and cry. It’s hard to write unemotionally when you’re emotional all the time.

I am teary as I write this because I think I made a mistake coming to grad school. I don’t regret pursuing journalism as a career path, but I do regret choosing to get to that career through journalism school. I want to be a fashion journalist. But everyday I hear one of my professors act like fashion isn’t a real type of journalism.

Yesterday my prof said reading fashion magazines turns your brain to mush, it’s like eating candy. Last semester a prof told us she didn’t want to hear story pitches on fashion because those aren’t real stories.

I sit there in all my fashion loving glory and feel stupid. Then I get angry because following up these statements is praise for sports. Writing about sports is legitimate journalism it seems. The world respects athletes who punch each other on the ice, yet there is no respect for designers who send intricate designs down the runway.

This, to me, is incredibly sexist. We see sports as a legitimate passion because it is an area dominated by male athletes and a passion held predominantly by males. But fashion isn’t legitimate because it’s an area of interest for females, who clearly only care for frivolous matters like clothing and hair.

My professor didn’t say that the people in my class who watch TSN nightly or read the Sports section daily are turning their brains too mush. Just people like me who have subscriptions to Flare, InStyle and Fashion magazine.

I didn’t realize we still lived in the 18th century, but apparently we do, where women’s interests are meant for the private space of the home and men’s interests dominate the workplace and the public sphere.

To me sports and fashion are no different– they are both areas of special interest. But in my program internships at sports magazines or  sports shows are acceptable. Fashion internships are not.

Quite frankly the reason I cry everyday isn’t because I’m not getting to report on what I want in my program. I cry because I feel dumb. I feel dumb for enjoying discussing what celebrities are wearing, for indulging nightly in the latest shows from Fashion Week and from wanting to pursue fashion journalism as a career. I feel my program is deeming me the class idiot because I don’t want to report on politics or crime or even sports, which to them are legitimate areas of journalism.

I went into this program because I wanted to learn about writing a wide variety of stories. And I love getting to do that. I just didn’t expect that in the process I would learn my interests are an inferior type of journalism.

But I am not going to quit. I want to, but I won’t because I am going to show them I am not dumb. I am going to show them fashion isn’t a frivolous passion. And most importantly I am going to do what I can so that no other aspiring fashion journalist has to curl up in bed and cry because their program makes them feel inferior.

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6 thoughts on “The dumb fashion girl fights back

  1. If your prof is only familiar with fashion mags as far as journalism goes, then you need to open his mind to what fashion journalism encompasses. Cathy Horyn’s writing for the New York Times is the pinnacle of fashion journalism. Other examples you could use are Style.com’s show reviews or basically anything in WWD (Women’s Wear Daily). Fashion is a business, so in a way, it shouldn’t be treated any differently than your average business journalism, if that’s what you’re after. But since fashion is also a matter of taste, fashion journalism also shares an element of criticism like all aspects of art – the fine arts, the dramatic arts, or even dining. What does your prof think of art criticism as a form of journalism?

  2. 1) Making people feel badly about what they do or believe, just isn’t nice, and belittling others is not a good way to be.
    2) I would also hazard a guess that the professor is perhaps ignorant about fashion, and obviously doesn’t realize that fashion is an art form; fashion informs us, it speaks to who we are as a people, it allows people to express themselves and participate in “art” in a real way, every day through what they wear.
    3) If fashion isn’t worthy, perhaps he/she can visit the Metropolitan Museum and tell them they should get rid of their exhibit? (http://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-museum/museum-departments/curatorial-departments/the-costume-institute) or tell the Museum at FIT in New York? (http://fitnyc.edu/3452.asp) or any of the other museums and curators that exhibit “fashion in history” exhibits all year round.
    4) Please believe in yourself – “journalism” is what you make it (especially these days), and passion wins out over following what everyone else is doing every time. Stay true to what you want to do, and stand up for yourself. Consider yourself a pioneer in fashion journalism – you can do it!

  3. Alyssa! Don’t fret. I graduated from that exact program last year, and another grad and I are working in the magazine world (think fashion, food, decor) already! You’ll do it. And when you get to write about the “it” colour of the season, or go on location, you’ll be the one laughing.

  4. Hi Alyssa, I’m a graduate of last year’s program. I completely understand where you’re coming from. I was afraid to let anyone on to my love of fashion until the last semester for fear that I would be perceived as dumb or not taken seriously. News flash for everyone: The editors at big fashion magazines like Vogue, ELLE and Harper’s Bazaar are not dumb airheads sitting around primping all day. They’re smart, talented, business-savvy women. I had to fight to get an internship at a big fashion magazine – it can be done! – and now I’m working full-time for a magazine and I love it! The biggest lesson I learned from my experience: don’t listen to what anyone else tells you. You know what you love and what you want – so go do it! Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you want any more advice or info.

  5. Hey there

    Please don’t worry. Focus on making your writing amazing, show it to the right people and someone will take note (and hopefully hire you and send you straight to Paris!) Life is always better when you’re the one laughing.

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