Taking a break from the rigours of standardized testing, I watched a documentary centred around Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue magazine. If you haven’t yet heard of Wintour aka “the single most important figure in the $300-billion fashion industry”, check out The September Issue trailer here, winner of a 2009 Sundance Film Festival Award. I’ll admittedly say that as a UBC student I don’t tend to run in the circles of high fashion, but was curious about Anna’s established success and reputation.
The scene that motivated this post was an interview where Director, R.J. Cutler asked Anna what her family thought of her success. Anna responded, “they find what I do very amusing.” Anna goes on to describe her siblings and their respected career paths- a brother who works to find housing for those who can’t afford it, a sister who defends the rights of farmers in Latin America, and her brother, the Political Editor of The Guardian. Anna calls her siblings ‘geniuses’ but, clearly hurt, she is explicit that they do not hold the same acknowledgment of her work. Why not?
Anna’s controversial career and noted recognition within the industry is renowned and can be reviewed here. Is fashion too extravagant and frivolous a trade to earn success? Do the Arts suffer from this principle? What are the other factors that contribute to the perception of success?
Would your family’s, friends’ or industry’s acknowledgement and approval matter in your evaluation of self-success? Despite believing that my field is important, if my dad found my work ‘amusing’ I’m pretty sure I would be switching career paths. (He doesn’t, he’s proud, thanks dad).
With this reflection came the (kind of scary) realization that success is not benchmarked or universally recognized. I could do everything possible to be successful for myself, yet be ignored by entire segments of the population. How much does recognition and respect matter? How much of success is relevant to values, beliefs, or interests? How much of success is just…success?