Know the Name: Elaine Welteroth

For years, Teen Vogue has been the bedrock resource for adolescent youth interested in fashion, beauty, and all things glamour.

Since the U.S. magazine launched in 2003 as an offshoot of Vogue, it has garnered much attention for the distinct mark it has left on the publication world. For one, the formatting size of the magazine is much smaller than average—at about 6¾" x 9"—making it similar to finding a 7", 45 rpm record among the shelves of regular-sized vinyls. The magazine also has cut back on its print production in years past, limiting such editions to quarterly distributions in favor of maximizing online content.  

Much of Teen Vogue’s most recent success, however, can be attributed to its most current editor-in-chief, Elaine Welteroth. Having worked in the magazine industry for years prior to her 2016 appointment at Teen Vogue, Welteroth has been breaking barriers and creating progress all along.

Welteroth grew up in Fremont, California, and went on to attend California State University—Sacramento, majoring in mass communications/media studies with a minor in journalism. Part of the Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP), she worked as a marketing and advertising intern with the firm, Oglivy & Mather, following graduation. Her first steps into the magazine industry were taken during an unpaid internship at Ebony magazine, which she eventually transformed into a paid position as an assistant and then Beauty and Style editor from 2008-2011.

In September 2011, Welteroth officially joined media powerhouse, Condé Nast, as the Beauty & Style editor for Glamour magazine, followed by Senior Beauty Editor. By October 2012, she joined Teen Vogue as Beauty & Health editor, and thus her influence on the magazine’s direction really took off.

As mentioned, Welteroth was named editor of the magazine in spring 2016, and officially took on the post by 2017. Since assuming the leadership position, online traffic for the magazine substantially increased by nearly five million views in one year. While partly due to an updated approach to social media interaction, much of Teen Vogue’s accomplishment is a result of Welteroth’s intentional inclusion of broader content. The publication began heavily focusing on politics and social issues, educating its readership on the latest trends in both fashion and news. Feminism, cultural appropriation, and LGBTQ+ stories were all championed as feature content. Most notably, the magazine was praised for its in-depth coverage of the 2016 election, asking difficult questions that many in the industry were surprised to see from a supposedly “teen” magazine.

Hired as a 29-year-old woman of color—Condé Naste’s youngest ever and second African American in the position—Welteroth continues to dramatically change the landscape of storytelling within the magazine sphere. As noted by fellow journalists, this evolution sparks from two main factors: the effort to hire women and minorities as writers, which “pushes the magazine in bold editorial directions,” and the treatment of teens “like rounded human beings with agency and intellects.”

Designating her readership as “genderless,” Welteroth says of Teen Vogue, “it’s more about a sensibility…We say ‘woke’ here. We’re a woke brand, and our readers are woke, too.”

When looking to read the latest on current events, social activism, and eyeliner (why not?), Teen Vogue is ready to be your go-to resource. Like a best friend who both welcomes you and pushes you to be your best, most well-informed self, this magazine’s intrepid journalism is exactly what we all need.