Last month I happened to be scrolling down my Instagram feed when I saw one of my sheroes, Teen Vogue Editor-in-Chief Elaine Welteroth, post a video about the new Teen Vogue Summit in LA this December. After watching Elaine talk about how amazing the Summit is going to be, I immediately clicked the link in her bio to check out the cost of the tickets. Now, as a two-time Teen Vogue Fashion University alumna, I don't know why I was surprised to see that the Summit is pretty pricy, but I let out a little gasp anyway for dramatic effect.
I already knew that with the cost of the tickets, plus airfare and lodging, I wasn't going to be able to afford to go. But on the flip side, Elaine and her team were doing a series of meetups in five cities leading up to the big event that were WAY less expensive. One of the cities they were traveling to was Chicago, which was perfect seeing as how it's only about a five hour drive from Detroit.
I sent the link to the meetup to my friend/coworker Amber whom I usually attend fashion events with (we went to TVFU together in 2015), and we locked down our spots immediately. I was so excited because I was finally going to be able to meet Elaine and witness her glorious 'fro in person!
But what was I going to wear?
I looked through my closet first, but I really didn't have anything that I felt was cute enough to wear to meet one of my favorite editors of all time. I had to come with the heat! I had been saving a bunch of things on my ASOS wishlist during prior weeks, and came across this skirt that I really wanted, but I was going to wait until it got marked down. I decided to go ahead and treat myself because I felt like I deserved it, lol.
The skirt is made out of a jersey material and has hand-sewn tassels all over in pink, silver and blue. I ended up having to get it taken in because it was too big. It fit perfectly after the alterations! I paired it with a plain white short sleeved T-shirt, a faux leather jacket with a sherpa collar and black booties. I felt so city-girl chic!
The meetup was held at the TOMS store in Chicago located on N Damen Avenue. There were about 60 or so people in attendance; ages varied. Amber and I made sure to grab two seats in the front of the room so that we'd be able to really take everything in. And y'all...when I tell you this event was everything? Believe me. Elaine commentated the whole thing, which of course was fantastic, but the guest speakers were really touching on some things that seem to always be on my mind these days.
Writer Luvvie Ajayi was the first to speak. She talked about how she started live tweeting Scandal episodes which then led to her successful blogging career, which THEN led to her becoming a New York Times best-selling author with her 2016 book "I'm Judging You." Since Luvvie is a writer, a lot of what she was saying was hitting close to home. I remember her saying that it took her a long time to claim that she was a writer because self-doubt and the fear of commitment was holding her back. I. Have. Been. There. Once you claim something, you have to be about it. You can't half-ass; you have to put the work in. And honestly, that can be scary. Sometimes I'd get nervous to tell people that I write because I wasn't sure if what I was writing was "good" or interesting enough. After writing a blog post, I'd often wonder, "Is anybody even reading this?"
But near the end of her talk, Luvvie said something that I feel like was directed toward me: "Own the thing that scares you." I'm really working on realizing that sometimes it's okay to leap. I needed to hear those words.
And I won a copy of "I'm Judging You," which I'm eager to have as my next read!
Next up was a quick session led by Media Activist Palika Makam who spoke to us about how to properly and effectively document social injustices on our cell phones. She brought up a lot of points that I had never even thought about in regard to this type of documentation, like whether or not you should post the video immediately to social media or wait until news breaks about it, considering the victim in the video and if your posting could do more harm than good if they're undocumented immigrants, etc. Racism and police brutality are still very alive and well, so when it comes to sharing footage of something we've witnessed, we need to make sure we're thinking things through instead of being impulsive.
After the social injustice talk was a panel discussion with Emmy Award-winning TV Writer and Producer Lena Waithe and Creator and Activist Eva Lewis. Their segment had me feeling like I was in church. They talked about representation, the work that they do and how they got to where they are, microagressions (which is a topic that has been far too prevalent in my life as of late), and so much more. I resonated with everything they were saying. As Black people, and as Black women especially, we need to be able to express ourselves, let people know when they're making us uncomfortable and speak up for ourselves without being apologetic about it. We deserve respect just like everyone else.
I left that meetup feeling so full. I really appreciate times when women of color are able to come together and have honest, meaningful dialogue about our everyday trials and celebrate our triumphs. We need to keep having conversations like this so we can continue to lift one another up.
I'm so proud of Teen Vogue for shifting its focus from all things glamorous and pretty to incorporating current events into their print and online platforms. Yes, talking about fashion is fun, but educating ourselves on what's going on around us is extremely important. Teen Vogue will always have a special place in my heart.
And to make this experience even better, I was featured in a video about the event on their Instagram page! Ahh!