Alison Tay is the Editor-in-Chief of the first international fashion magazine to boycott discussions about weight loss and diets. This is why, and how, she did it.
What makes my journey as an Editor-in-Chief so exciting is the part I can play in transforming magazines from arbiters of taste into agenda-setting catalysts for positive change.
I started my career in London, and spent 15 years styling and interviewing the famous and fabulous in London, Paris, and LA. However, the day that showed me the true transformational power of fashion was a shoot with TV presenter, philanthropist, author and acid-attack survivor Katie Piper, and three burns and acid-attack sufferers who were rebuilding their lives, their relationships with themselves, and learning to love their scars, with Katie as their mentor. This was the day I learned that fashion could be so much more than making hot people look hotter. I became Katie’s stylist for her TV shows and events until I moved to Dubai to become Editor-in-Chief of Grazia.
The last five years in my dream job made me realise that it’s in my power to rewrite the narrative, and remove limiting beliefs from the conversation. So in summer 2019, I unequivocally banned coverage of diets and weight loss across all Grazia Middle East platforms. And as a reflection of the zeitgeist, I also ditched the edition traditionally devoted to Summer Bodies – and launched an altogether more empowering Body Positivity issue in celebration of the real-body revolution taking over the world.
It wasn’t a calculated publicity stunt. There was no marketing campaign behind it. It didn’t break the internet. In fact, apart from an Instagram shout-out from Jameela, American model Denise Bidot, and body-positivity advocates in the region, it passed largely unnoticed. However, this stance was not only an act of support and solidarity with the Grazia Middle East community, but also marked an important part of my personal evolution as an editor and as a human being.
In 2019, I celebrated 20 years in journalism, and what fuels my passion and purpose today – especially in economically and politically uncertain times globally – is knowing I’m part of the solution not part of the problem.
The most disruptive conversations happening right now in the fashion world are about social responsibility and sustainability. We’re more informed than ever about our purchasing decisions as consumers and quite rightly demand greater transparency from the retailers we choose to spend with about who made our clothes and in what conditions.