Why Meghan Markle’s Guest Edit Issue of Vogue is so Important

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“Forces for Change”. I haven’t purchased printed media for decades, but this issue I desperately wanted to get in print — even decided to get up at 7AM to be the first one by the newsstand on Friday morning. Although I messed up the days of the week and until lunch I had been genuinely sure that it was Thursday, now I’m holding this mind-shifting issue in my hands. As a guest editor of @BritishVogue, The Dutchess of Sussex @sussexroyal took an iconic fashion issue and shifted its focus to human values and people who fearlessly break barriers to re-shape society in radical and positive ways. September Issue highlights a trailblazing group of 15 fierce female changemakers, each driving impact and raising the bar for equality, kindness, justice and open mindedness. The 16’s box on the cover appears as a mirror to show each one of us that we can be a force for change too: ⠀ – Raise mental health awareness through @AdwoaAboah and @JameelaJamilOfficial; – Speak to world leaders about the climate crisis with @GretaThunberg; – Address concerns about (trans)gender and race equality with @SalmaHayek and @LaverneCox; – Shine a light on the problems of refugees via @AdutAkech and @SomaliBoxer; – Advocate for women’s safety with @CTurlington and @JaneFonda. This is a defining moment in our history. We have to decide how we’re gonna treat women and children, transgender people, immigrants and people of color. How we’re gonna treat our planet. We have to make a change now. And if you have a look inside yourself, you’ll see that your strongest force for change is YOU. ⠀ #ForcesForChange #BritishVogue #SeptemberIssue

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Everyone can relate to sending a risky text. The drama of it all—the quickening heartbeat, and tapping of fingers, all to reveal a daring thought or secret emotion… Something like, “hey, I like you,” or a ‘no thank you, it’s best we don’t see each other again…”

I imagine that shaky, nervous energy as her royal highness Meghan Markle, who, 9 months ago, pitched herself as guest editor of the September issue to Edward Enninful of British Vogue. Over text.

This was risky for a number of reasons. One, the September issue is by far the most important of the year (perhaps you recall the drama-filled 2009 documentary, The September Issue?), making it a hot commodity among readers and industry professionals alike. Two, Markle is often torn apart in the press for her daring decisions as Duchess of Sussex—imagine what the royals, press, and public would think? Third, at the time she was pregnant and on maternity leave. All of these factors making backlash from press inevitable.

Knowing very well that her progressive vision would make many declare her, yet again, “out-of-line,” she sent that text. And less than a minute later, Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful confirmed with an abounding “yes!” and thus, the British September issue was born. After many lengthy discussions with Enninful, Markle established her presence within the issue as far beyond a glamorous headshot and breezy interview. Her vision: to showcase the most inspiring women in her life. 

Months of decisions would eventually push forward an authentic, inspiring issue of Vogue—two adjectives not often used to describe pages in a glossy magazine. This has been one of Enninful’s objectives since taking the helm of the publication about a year ago. Pulling aboard Markle was a wise decision, as she has routinely used her platform of power for good. 

The issue was full of powerful women, including 15 different faces on the cover, plus a reflective window in the middle for the reader. Inside, Markle profiled none other than Michelle Obama, while her husband, Prince Harry, interviewed none other than wildlife advocate and anthropologist, Jane Goodall. 

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Earlier this summer HRH The Duke of Sussex met with world renowned ethologist Dr. Jane Goodall for an intimate conversation on environment, activism, and the world as they see it. This special sit-down was requested by The Duchess of Sussex, who has long admired Dr. Goodall and wanted to feature her in the September issue of @BritishVogue, which HRH has guest edited. HRH and Dr. Goodall spoke candidly about many topics including the effects of unconscious bias, and the need for people to acknowledge that your upbringing and environment can cause you to be prejudiced without realising it. The Duke described that “[when] you start to peel away all the layers, all the taught behaviour, the learned behaviour, the experienced behaviour, you start to peel all that away – and at the end of the day, we’re all humans.” • Through @RootsandShoots the global youth service program @JaneGoodallInst founded in 1991, she has created and encouraged a global youth community to recognise the power of their individual strength – that each day you live, you can make a difference. Photos: ©️SussexRoyal / Chris Allerton #ForcesForChange

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Sustainability and climate change was another main focus for the issue, topics still somehow taboo in the fashion landscape. Only recently did American Vogue admit to slipping on the topic of sustainability this past decade. 

It’s rare in fashion to see a brand or publication so proudly taking a stand, even when it’s one as safe as saying, your face could be on the cover of this magazine, too. Some labels are afraid to make polarizing decisions, while others find cash cows in inclusive marketing strategies. 

Meanwhile, Markle’s involvement in positive publication practices are a swift kick to the gossip columns and blogs that lean towards sexist coverage of the duchess. Instead, she turned her attention to “the power of the collective,” proving how strong women work better together.

In trying times, through fashion, writing or otherwise, making sense of this mess we call a planet has time and time again proved to be a challenge that feels too big to overcome. It’s refreshing to see a leader put more than a publicity smile onto a project, and even further, dedicate months into a project of good. 

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Introducing the September 2019 issue of #BritishVogue, guest-edited by HRH The Duchess of Sussex @SussexRoyal. Entitled #ForcesForChange, the cover features 15 world-leading women who are reshaping public life for global good, and were personally chosen by The Duchess of Sussex, and British Vogue’s editor-in-chief @Edward_Enninful. The 16th slot – which, in print, appears as a mirror – is intended by The Duchess to show how you are part of this collective moment of change too. Click the link in bio to read about how The #DuchessOfSussex became the first guest editor of the September issue in the magazine’s 103-year history. Photographed in New York, Stockholm, London and Auckland by @TheRealPeterLindbergh, with fashion editors @Edward_Enninful and @TheRealGraceCoddington, hair by @BartPumpkin and @SergeNormant, make-up by @TheValGarland and @Diane.Kendal, nails by @LorraineVGriffin and @YukoTsuchihashi. On newsstands Friday 2 August. Starring: @AdwoaAboah @AdutAkech @SomaliBoxer @JacindaArdern @TheSineadBurke @Gemma_Chan @LaverneCox @JaneFonda @SalmaHayek @FrankieGoesToHayward @JameelaJamilOfficial @Chimamanda_Adichie @YaraShahidi @GretaThunberg @CTurlington

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Even as a fashion student and writer, it’s been months since I’ve pulled an issue off the stands for more than 30 seconds. Nowadays, it’s hard to find fashion publications that don’t make me feel like I’m not pretty enough, fashionable enough— or en vogue enough. It’s difficult to justify a purchase that doesn’t make sense ethically or sustainably. 

It takes more than a good cover shot to inspire a buy. Meghan Markle proved this September that what’s on the inside is what counts the most.

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