DAVIS: It’s rituals.
TAYLOR: It’s tradition.
DAVIS: Mikki, you were often the only [Black beauty editor]. What did you walk in there with? Who was with you?
TAYLOR: At the time, the 14.2 million Black women that Essence served. I knew that when I walked through those doors, that every one of those queens walked in with me. At the same time, I took it upon myself to educate the industry. It wasn’t my job, but it was my responsibility.
DAVIS: Mikki, when you said you know that wasn’t your job but you did it, you were in a space to make them better because they had more understanding. But that’s what Black girls do. We liberate ourselves, everybody gets free.
CRUEL: Michaela, I think that’s so true. Once I had an experience where I felt seen in the pages of Allure, I said, “Well, how can we open this up to other people? How can we make South Asian women feel seen? How can we make Latina women, LGBTQ, and Indigenous people feel seen?” because they also haven’t had this platform. So, how do you share the podium and share the mic?
TAYLOR: We actually had Caucasian readers, and I had an editor tell me once, “I read your magazine because it’s the only magazine that doesn’t make me feel like I need a makeover,
like I’m lacking something.” Magazines must be the place where we come to be affirmed, informed, inspired to have the conversation, to have our voices heard.
CRUEL: I love that word, “affirmed.” Because so many times people think magazines are aspirational, but at the end of the day…you should aspire to be yourself.
TAYLOR: The best version of you possible and to keep discovering what that is. Magazines have a
responsibility to help you navigate that journey, to discover.
DAVIS: Whenever I’m asked, “What makes you feel beautiful?” I feel most beautiful when I’m telling the truth. When you become a truth teller, then you get to really open up
this definition of beauty. It’s not just skin care and lipstick. It’s identity, it’s humanity.
TAYLOR: I think that women, in general, are looking now to be intentional, to clarify their why.