Elle Mentors

An open letter to unlikeable women

Aishwarya Subramanyam has had enough

It’s not easy to like Kangana Ranaut (our March cover girl). She’s prickly, opinionated and ambitious, she betrays unflinching honesty, and she really seems to not care very much whether or not you like her. Is there anything more unlikeable in a woman than her not caring whether or not you like her? In a man, however… okay we won’t get into that for reasons of preserving my sanity.

I’ve long stopped counting the number of times people (other women, mainly) have stressed upon me the importance of being likeable. (It’s why Hillary lost, after all.) I’ve had female bosses tell me that I need to be friendly, warm, nurturing; and I’ve nodded at them with a deep sense of disappointment and betrayal. We expect better from other women, don’t we? We hold them to a higher standard, ask more of them on every front. This may not be fair, but neither is life, and we wimmin gots to stick together.

This is my last issue of ELLE, and I’ve had just the most fun over the last four years with different bunches of women who have always stuck together. No matter how things fell, we always had each other’s back. I’ve made friends for life here, and have had the distinct privilege of being blissfully unlikeable around so many exceptional, talented people who didn’t care. I’d like to thank them all for being awesome.

I’m so glad, too, that my last issue has on its cover a strong, defiant woman who refuses to colour inside the lines. Watching Ranaut perform, speak and stand her ground is a pleasure and a joy, and her first ELLE cover could not have come at a better time. She makes me so hopeful.

That sums up how I feel right now, actually. I feel impossibly hopeful for the future of everything. For the future of magazines, journalism, fashion. For the immensely capable team I leave behind. I’m excited to see where ELLE will go next, how it will change and what it will become. I’m excited to see where I will go next, how I will change and who I will become.

More than anything, I am filled with hope for unlikeable women, so many of whom I see around me, kicking ass on a daily basis. I stand with you. May you never have to be friendly.

Thank you for reading. Goodbye.

This has been published as the 'Editor's Letter' in ELLE March 2017.