Sharing my learnings from the book, More than Enough by Elaine Welteroth
More than Enough by Elaine Welteroth
Throughout her life, Elaine Welteroth has climbed the ranks of media and fashion, shattering ceilings along the way. In this riveting and timely memoir, the groundbreaking journalist unpacks lessons on race, identity, and success through her own journey, from navigating her way as the unstoppable child of an unlikely interracial marriage in small-town California to finding herself on the frontlines of a modern movement for the next generation of change makers.
Welteroth moves beyond the headlines and highlight reels to share the profound lessons and struggles of being a barrier-breaker across so many intersections. As a young boss and often the only Black woman in the room, she’s had enough of the world telling her—and all women—they’re not enough. As she learns to rely on herself by looking both inward and upward, we’re ultimately reminded that we’re more than enough.
- Elaine remembers the day she realized she was different. She was 3 years old and her preschool teacher had just given her and her classmates an assignment: using images from magazines, make a collage representing your family. Her father, Jack, was white. Her mother, Debra, was black. Her older brother, Eric Charles, was like herself – caramel-taffy brown. Finding a dad was easy enough but finding a black mom and a brown brother proved much harder. so she did what any little girl might do: copied her classmates & used images of white people.
- when her mother saw Elaine’s handiwork, she sat her down at the kitchen table. It was time to have the Race conversation. With the help of her mom, Elaine redid her collage. When they were done, they taped the collage up by Elaine’s bed as a reminder. Elaine wasn’t and never would be white and that was something to be proud of
- Elaine’s early interest in beauty and design lay the groundwork for her future career as a magazine editor.
- in elementary and junior high school, Elaine underwent some minor identity crises. Mostly donning different hairstyles to blend in with her classmates and hoping to get attention from male students. On one occasion, during the 8th grade winter ball, no one asked Elaine to dance. Back home, she ended the night weeping in her mother’s lap. It was a devastating moment
- when Elaine entered high school, heads started turning. Suddenly, she was surrounded by black boys her age and just as suddenly, she was getting checked out in a major way
- at 14, she was ready for romantic love and there she entered a relationship with a boy. At the time, Elaine believes in the Ride or Die syndrome (you should stick by your man, deal with the drama, ride the relationship till the wheels fall off). Despite major differences with the guy, Elaine couldn’t bring herself to leave him. She dropped her dreams of Stanford & went to Sacramento state to be with her man.
- during Christmas break & Elaine was just completing her freshman year at Sac state, her first love calling her from jail. He’d been arrested. She still stayed with him until she had enough by the summer of her sophomore year, they broke up
- the breakup was disorienting but Elaine soon met Dr. Michele Foss-Snowden who restored her sense of direction. She provided a new template for adulthood and success. A mentor-mentee relationship was developed
- mainstream imagery conveyed a clear message: whiteness was preferable to blackness. This made Elaine mad. The more she talked with Fr. M Foss and the more she studied, the more she realized how relentlessly American society primes black people for self-hate. She began to accept and own her blackness with more intention. However, it wasn’t until after a disastrous internship in New York City that Elaine identified her vocational calling – and began pursuing it with a vengeance.
- in her junior year at Sac state, Elaine began to feel pressure if her impending graduation. Elaine was offered an internship at Ogilvy & Nash but her experience was horrible. Her fellow interns barely looked at her. When she got back to California, she knew for sure that advertising was not the environment for her – an important discovery, since it helped guide her toward her true calling: editorial work
- With this goal in mind, Elaine applied for an internship at Essence magazine.
- Elaine was at her parents’ house and there was a stack of her mom’s magazines nearby and Elaine noticed a copy of Ebony with Alicia Keys on the cover. The feature article was by a woman named Harriette Cole, Elaine suddenly felt she’d been instructed to contact her.
- day after day, Elaine called Harriette Cole’s office. Eventually, Elaine’s persistence laid off. A call was scheduled and their conversation lasted 45 minutes. Meanwhile, Elaine had been accepted as an intern at Essence
- 30 days before Elaine’s internship was about to start, she got a call from Harriette to be her production assistant for the day. And it was a cover shoot featuring Serena Williams.
- Harriette offered Elaine an internship at Ebony. Even though it was regarded as less stylish as Essence. Elaine believed Harriette’s assurances that she’d have opportunities at Ebony that Essence simply wouldn’t offer
- While at Ebony, Elaine grew professionally and fell in love
- Though crucial to her development, Elaine’s time at Ebony wasn’t exactly glamorous. She’d known, since day one, that she had to climb higher.
- in the realm of journalism, atop a mountain called success, there sits a castle – Conde castle, as Elaine referred to Condé Nast, the prestigious publisher of magazines like Vogue and Glamour. On her quest for success, Elaine was determined to breach the castle walls. And Elaine successfully did! She had landed the position of beauty writer at Glamour and in less than a year, she’d be promoted to style and beauty editor.
- not long after her personal career triumph, she discovered that her boyfriend has been cheating on her. Thus, they broke up
- over the next six years, success followed success. Elaine was named Teen Vogue’s editor and less than a year after that, she became editor in chief. She also reconnected with a childhood friend named Jonathan and they got engaged when she turned 30.
- Elaine’s career was riding high and she felt like she was making a positive impact – but then, all of a sudden, Teen Vogue would fold in 2017. Elaine ended up choosing to leave Conde Castle.
- Elaine Welteroth is still writing her story. If there’s one moral lesson, it’s this: she’s done enough and she is enough. But that doesn’t mean she’s not ready for more.