OPEN THREAD: What Exactly Do You Do?

It's surprisingly difficult to explain to some people what a beauty editor does.
Publish date:
April 8, 2016
open thread, careers, beauty editors

Remember that "What People Think I Do/What I Really Do" meme that was going around a couple years ago? I think we all experience that disconnect when it comes to how people perceive our jobs, but I'm starting to think that this whole beauty-editor thing is especially confusing to people outside the industry.

I used to go to a bar in my old neighborhood, and the owner and I had become Facebook friends. Even though he has zero interest in what I write about here on xoVain, he would go out of his way to read the articles I'd share on Facebook because he liked my sense of humor. And every time I'd go to the bar, he'd say, without the slightest hint of irony, "How's fashion blogging going?"

While there is nothing wrong with being a fashion blogger, I am definitely not one. Although beauty and fashion hang out with each other on the reg, they are completely different topics — at least to those who are interested in one or both. Plus, I'm not even a blogger! That's an even more common misconception when it comes to producing content on the internet — that it's all "blogging." But since I'm employed as the editor of an online publication at a major publishing company — as opposed to running an independent blog — and not receiving buttloads of money from brands just to hold up a lipstick in an Instagram photo, I don't count as a blogger. Like, legally — I'm not a blogger by FCC standards. It's all very weird.

These topics — bloggers versus editors, beauty versus fashion, and more — actually came up earlier this week at FIT's Full Spectrum Beauty panel, where four other Time Inc. beauty editors and I answered cosmetic, fragrance and marketing undergrads' questions about the industry. (And you know I went to Drybar that morning so my hair would look cute for the youths.)

It became apparent to me very quickly as I listened to how differently we each answered the questions that not even beauty editors see what beauty editors do exactly the same way. For example, Angelique discussed how she can spend hours with a photographer and prop stylist getting the perfect shot of a product for the print edition of InStyle — a totally foreign concept to me since xoVain contributors (myself included) are responsible for shooting their own photos. And when we were asked who our favorite beauty influencers were, everyone named different bloggers, vloggers, and makeup artists, while my answer was basically just a list of xoVain contributors (and Tynan, of course).

We also came from totally different career backgrounds. While I was a creative writing major who came thisclose to pursuing a career in talent booking, Deanne had been pre-med in her undergrad years, and Pam had been both a teacher and a lobbyist.

Essence, StyleWatch, MIMI, InStyle and xoVain are vastly different publications, so our roles as beauty editors — while obviously anchored in the same topic — are just as varied. I don't know if I could deftly explain the nuances to someone looking in from the outside, especially since I still can't get over the "fashion blogger" hump with some folks. But that's OK. No matter what people imagine my job to be, all that matters is that I love it.

So, for today's Open Thread, I'm gonna throw these question at ya:

  • Is there a big difference between what you actually do at your job and what people think you do?
  • Is there anything about being a beauty editor you've always been curious about?
  • If you could start your career over again (assuming you've already started one) doing something totally different, what would it be?