Teen Vogue’s Elaine Welteroth on Diversity in Beauty Media: ‘It’s a Step in the Right Direction’

Publication's first black beauty editor talks hiring and career plan

Elaine Welteroth, beauty editor, Teen Vogue (Image: File)

When Teen Vogue hired Elaine Welteroth as their beauty editor, the magazine created a major buzz in the beauty and publishing industries, as she became the first woman of color to hold such a position. The hiring was landmark in providing an indication that women of color would be represented more in an industry that has come under scrutiny in the past decade for its lack of black representation, both in print and on the runways.

Diversity has been a dominating issue in publishing, especially for women of color, in terms of concepts of beauty and how it relates to advertising and the business of media. With her hiring, as well as that of Condé Nast’s first-ever African American editor-in-chief, Keija Minor (of Brides), the challenges still remain as many major pubs have yet to hire editors of color leading content strategy.

Racked recently caught up with Welteroth where she talked about diversity and how her post at Teen Vogue would affect the hiring and diversity of the industry. When asked whether she sees a trend toward more diversity in beauty content creation, she said, “In general, our world is getting more multicultural by the minute. It’s a step in the right direction when the workplace reflects that. I think that beauty is an important space to see a range of perspectives, because it’s a particularly personal topic.”

She also talked about the importance of readers knowing that someone who looks like them holds the reigns of reporting about products they use in their beauty and skincare regimens. “We write about products you wear on your skin and in your hair, which come in a wide range of shades and textures,” she says. “A sense of trust is established when your reader feels like there is someone on the masthead who understands them and can speak up for them on these topics.

During her time at Teen Vogue, she added that she’d like to “continue to inspire girls to have fun experimenting with their looks and to cultivate a personal style that reflects confidence in who they are. … At the end of the day, if I’ve helped even one girl feel better about herself or more beautiful in her own skin, then I’ve done my job.”

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