The Mean Girls of Journalism

Individuals that work in the fashion industry are well-accustomed to judgemental assumptions from others. Fashion journalism remains secluded primarily because of these judgements from the political writers of our century: we are the mean girls of journalism: the clique that knows nothing of political, social or real issues of the world. We are the women that have a strict diet of diet coke, and only diet coke. We are the people that are uptight, harsh and bitchy: never growing out of secondary-school.

Women are the bosses in fashion journalism: Anna Wintour is one of the most powerful women in journalism, part of a family of famous journalists (Her brother is the political editor of The Guardian and her father the previous editor-in-Chief of the Evening Standard). Her creative director, Grace Cunningham, is also her friend, but also importantly, her colleague. Vogue is notoriously a female-led industry and there is something very awe-inspiring about the editors in chief of these magazines and what differs them to the male-dominated political newspapers. What people do not realise is that this snobbery towards fashion journalism stems from a very old tradition of disregarding the history of female editors in journalism, it is not just about the ‘frivolousness’ of clothes, but also a socio-political history. This is not to say that there aren’t men within the fashion industry, as there are many Karl Lagerfeld, John Galliano, Alexander Wang etc. etc. Clothes, bags and shoes however are often associated with women, or the more patronising and suited term, ‘girls’.

It is not however just simply sexism that is a problem within fashion journalism, clothes are not isolated, in our modern, material world, we value these objects. There is an extraordinary amount of talent within the fashion industry and it is notoriously hard to break into, due to the overwhelming amount of people that aspire to be within the shimmering world of fashion. Image is powerful and this is what the fashion industry relies on: this postmodern predicament. It is an exploration of our postmodern world; the way we engage with image and the way we judge others.

There are also social and political consequences within the fashion industry, with such issues such as sweat shops and the recent rise in so-called ‘ethical fashion’. We are now starting to consider how the clothing industry is huge on such a monumental scale. Everybody I know in British society owns clothes. Every item of clothing you own has been made, designed by someone. Whether for a functional use or purely for your own enjoyment. Historically fashion has had huge impacts on social and political decisions, the most obvious being how women have gradually shortened their dress hemlines as a mark of social revolution against the sexualisations of their bodies. Wintour’s first cover of Vogue featured a slender model, with G-brand jeans, but she scandalously displayed an inch of skin above the waist. In this sense, fashion journalism has always been ‘forward thinking’, it has actively been involved in social revolutions, but we don’t associate these social markers with fashion: that frivolous form of journalism.

The most obvious aspect of fashion journalism is how it promotes young designers and creativity. The Vogue Fashion Fund set up in 2005 by Anna Wintour is a competition based program for young designers to showcase their work. If you become one of the finalists, you maintain a close connection with Wintour and can have your collection launched by a large-selling brand, launching you into a career. Most people wear clothes, therefore most people have social issues to do with their images.

And yes, there are issues, like there are with any publication. Fashion journalism however, does not deny these issues. In recent years, there have been more black, asian models and now our first transgender cover model. Fashion magazines run a ‘tight ship’ but we are far more politically liberal than you think. We are not the mean girls, we are the bosses.


I’m Eleanor, a UK Manchester based Lifestyle & Beauty Blogger. I write about beauty products, feminism, mental health and my adventures in the big city of MCR.