Anna Holmes, the founder of Jezebel, did a great interview with the Huffington Post to promote the new book, The Book of Jezebel: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things.” It’s a really great interview where Anna Holmes discusses how a lack of dynamic women’s publications fueled her to start the site and how she felt as an aspiring lady writer in a field that tended to favor dudes and privilege. Her advice to her 25-year-old self is certainly something that resonated with my 24-year-old.
“When I was 25, I was working at Entertainment Weekly as an editorial assistant. It was a great magazine. Everyone was really excited to work there, and we were all obsessed with pop culture. It was very political, and that was not the healthiest thing for me. I didn’t know how to navigate that stuff. If I were to give advice to my 25-year-old self, I would say this is just one job and this is not the beginning of the rest of my life and the rest of my life won’t mirror what was going on here. At that job I felt like too much enthusiasm was looked down upon. I always had tons of ideas and brought them to my boss, but instead of encouraging that or seeing it as a positive attribute, she communicated to me subtly that it was annoying. I would tell my 25-year-old self to believe in myself more. I questioned myself a lot because of the response — or lack of response — I got from her. At the time I vowed that if I was ever a boss or manager, I would not blanch at an employee’s enthusiasm and willingness to work. I would not try to snuff that out.”
I read Jezebel every single day. No publication is flaw free but Jezebel, when I was first seeking out publications that resonated with my particular take on women’s issues (I wasn’t calling myself a feminist yet!), sharp writing, and popular culture Jezebel was the first to really resonate with me. It certainly has influenced the kind of information I seek, the way that I read and interpret news and how I position myself as a writer in the grand scheme of things.
Anna said of her need to have better conversations about women:
“At the time, I was 34. I might have felt immune to some of these messages, but I was well aware that there were 18- to 24-year-old women who had grown up in this environment, where all that was being fed to them was Cosmo and PerezHilton.com, where they were constantly being bombarded by messages like ‘you’re ugly’ or ‘she’s ugly.’ It’s just sort of a sexist way and a one-note way of portraying womanhood. Those young people were more susceptible to buying into this. Certainly, this stuff existed when I was a teenager, but definitely not to this degree.”
Jezebel helped me, as a young college sophomore, to realize that there was something inherently wrong with the fact that on my personal list of great writers there were no women and that I had been avoiding women’s publications because I thought they were dumbed down—I hadn’t yet realized that it was wholly problematic that I felt like I was being talked down to as a girl and that I preemptively assumed that because something was written by a woman it was for women and thus stupid. Glad, I got over that.
Check out the full interview here.