Role Call | Editor’s Letter
I have never posted an Editor’s Letter before but Harper’s Bazaar UK December topic is close to my heart.
Some of the people who have defined me, made me, believed in me are incredibly brilliant women. If I was the edition was mine, these would be my names: Sónia, Vânia, Odete, Ana Rita, Elda, Clara, Carmo, Federica, Ani, Mirela, Silvia, Serena. Catarina. Matilde.
Women who inspire me, who reminded me that whatever I go and whatever I do, if I dream it, if I believe it, I can make it and if we believe together, we will reach the stars.
It is time to read the letter of a real editor.
It is a criticism often leveled at the media and fashion industries that we champion inappropriate role models, celebrating youth and beauty over talent intelligence or achievement. I will not be disingenuous and claim that Bazaar does not ever photograph young models whose slender body shapes are difficult to attain for the majority of us. We do – although we never take this to extremes. But I hope you will agree that within this magazine’s pages each month you discover a diverse representation of inspiring women.
The stories that have stayed with me most this past year are varied: Sonya Rykiel’s strength in facing her life with Parkinson’s disease (August); Diana Vreeland’s dedication to living a life less ordinary (September); 26-year-old Lena Dunham’s impact as a writer and star of the generation-influencing Girls (October); and Sky news reporter Alex Crawford’s emotional account of balancing her role as a wife and a mother with her life-threatening (and life-changing) career as a war correspondent (January).
All of this means that, when we plan Bazaar’s Women of the Year Awards – supported by the third year running by Estée Lauder Re-Nutriv, as well as first-time sponsors Tiffany & Co and Harrods – we chose our models carefully. We look at theater as well as the big and small screens to find the most impressive performances. We debate the artists whose work has had a strong impact on us, whether through words or images, and the musicians who have moved us. We think about the women who have made a difference, whether to their industry or to all of us.
I am hopeful that the Olympics – which, I will admit, I credited with little influence over my life until I found myself uplifted by the unique emotion of it – is the start of, or perhaps the necessary swell of momentum towards, a change in popular thinking about who should be celebrated as a role model. It should have been impossible for us to look back on this special year without celebrating the talent and achievements of some of the female athletes whose performances so thrilled and inspired us this summer. But there is a greater reason for including Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton and Ellie Simmonds, who were photographed for Bazaar by David Bailey in our Women of the Year accolades. These women and their teammates helped millions of us understand the beauty of achievement of working hard at something you love, overcoming obstacles both mental and physical in the pursuit of success; of knowing what you want and doing everything within your power to make it happen.
When Bazaar’s Kay Barron interviewed Stella McCartney for this issue, the designer spoke of realizing the importance of the message that these games and our own actions pass on to the next generation, after she was prompted to explain the suffragettes and the women’s rights movements to her five-year-old daughter Bailey as they watched the Olympic Opening Ceremony. As a mother to a teenage daughter, I was struck by McCartney’s words and by the idea of a lasting legacy of London 2012 that centres on more than sport. What do I want my daughter to understand now? I want her to know that she has the power to make dreams come true and that these dreams should be as big as her imagination will allow. I believe that Bazaar’s Women of the Year represent that spirit, and that makes them very appropriate role models indeed.
Jennifer Dickinson, Acting Editor of Harper’s Bazaar UK