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"We have everything that we need to do what we are meant to do": Elaine Welteroth talks new book, career and relationships

Elaine Welteroth on being "more than enough"

Watch Vladimir Duthiers' full interview with Elaine Welteroth in the player above.


Elaine Welteroth has turned her experiences, including being named Conde Nast's youngest editor, into a new book she hopes will empower women and people of color. In an interview with CBSN's Vladimir Duthiers, Welteroth said she believes her new memoir, "More Than Enough," will help liberate people from labels.

"No matter what the world says, no matter what we are telling ourselves because of the way we internalize these messages over time, we are more than enough," Welteroth said.

"We have everything that we need to do what we are meant to do and we are more than enough — even if we are a work in progress. I think that caveat is important  — because it's not about perfectionism, it's not about reaching one singular destination that defines success. We get to define success, we get to redefine success, we get to dream and then we get to decide."

Welteroth was only 29 years old when she was named editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue. She received the coveted title as "magazines were folding left and right." But, she said, that meant that it was a time for fresh ideas and voices to come forward and truly reflect youth culture.

She was lauded for bringing smart writing and bolstered coverage of marginalized communities, but Welteroth told CBSN she was most proud of grateful for the opportunity to bring these conversations to teens.

Elaine Welteroth on new memoir, her career and relationships

"They were already having conversations on Tumblr and on social media around intersectional feminism and racism and reproductive rights and gender fluidity — all these conversations were happening in the margins, but there was no mainstream media platform that created an intersection [where] all of those aspects of their identities could be celebrated," Welteroth said. "And we wanted to create that at Teen Vogue and I think it speaks to the mission of this book as well — we are all raised and conditioned to believe there are all these false binaries that you must subscribe to."

The subject of false binaries is one that Welteroth has long explored. As the child of a white father and black mother, she struggled in her life to feel like she fit in and felt she had to be "fluent in two worlds." She grew up in a predominately white neighborhood. It wasn't until she was called a racial slur at a college party that she says she realized she never felt black enough. 

"I did have trouble at some points in my life connecting — but in that moment, I realized being black is not about the way you dress, it's not about the way you speak, the music you listen to or who you date," Welteroth said. "It is a universal, it is a lived experience of discrimination, unfortunately, in this country. We are connected by that, but we are also connected in the safe spaces we create for ourselves as a result of that." 

Welteroth said her book is written for anyone "who knows what it is to be the only one in the room — or one of few."

"It's written for anyone who is from a small town and has a big dream. It is for anyone who exists at the intersection of race, of politics, anyone who has ever felt confined by the way the world labels them. It is really so much bigger than my story — it is about our stories," Welteroth said. 

Catherine Casey contributed reporting.   

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