One of the hardest parts of getting older is watching reality begin to creep into your dreams, its cruel talons piercing the kaleidoscopic puffs of possibility. Even the most attractive jobs, after all, are still jobs. There’s pressure, deadlines, and the specter of faceless management, all of which have the power to swing the ax in your general direction.
In “The Persistent Fantasy Of The Fashion Magazine Job,” Alice Bolin’s striking new piece for Racked, the author examines both her childhood fascination with the figures behind popular women’s magazines, as well as Hollywood’s fetishization of them. Using movies like The Devil Wears Prada, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, and The September Issue and books like Joan Juliet Buck’s The Price Of Illusion and Cat Marnell’s How To Murder Your Life, Bolin explores the tropes of the budding writer and their “Cruella de Vil-esque editors” as they exist both in films and in the real world. In doing so, she pokes a hole in these depictions while also dissecting the tension between beauty and politics as they’ve unfolded over time in these magazines.
There’s also the issue of how sexism exists in industries that are seemingly controlled by women. Bolin writes:
So these magazine stories, in the end, are about the precariousness of women in power and the dilemmas of the creative life: do you make something small, for and by yourself, or make something grand, and have it constantly threatened by your collaborators and patrons? It is easy to forget that [Vogue editor] Diana Vreeland was eventually fired, too.
Dream jobs exist for all of us, but it’s healthy to acknowledge that dreams can easily turn into nightmares.