By now, you know about Katie Leder’s book, The Beauty Myth: The Hidden Truth About How You Can Be Happy.
(That title was lifted from her book’s cover, of course.)
Leder, a former fashion editor at Vanity Fair and now a fashion consultant, writes about her experience in the industry, how it can be a “disorienting” experience, and how to “learn to love yourself” and “know your value.”
Her book, which she co-wrote with her friend, blogger Lauren Wainwright, is out now.
And in this exclusive interview, Leder talks about the book’s themes, why she decided to write it, and why she thought it was important to write about beauty in a book.
What inspired you to write the book?
When I was 18, I was in my late 20s and in a place where I was still learning.
I was a new college graduate with a very large student loan and a very limited social life.
I had been living with a single mom in New York City, and I felt isolated.
I felt like a weirdo.
I also felt like I was struggling with something in my life, like I needed to find my voice, and then I had a book about it.
Leder says she didn’t think her book would be published until 2018, because it was a difficult book to sell.
So, it’s been six years.
How did you decide to write a book?
I didn’t know that I was going to be writing it.
I’m a perfectionist.
I don’t have time for other people’s work.
It was like, I know I want to do this, I don, I really do want to.
I mean, I have this beautiful book that I’m just so happy with.
I’ve got it in my head.
It’s not just me, it was just this big, beautiful thing, and it was my life.
And then when I realized that I wanted to write, I thought, well, what if I write it now?
I thought, okay, I need to do it now.
I just need to write.
I started by thinking about how my life would be different if I didn [write] about it now, and about how I might be able to help people to figure it out, and maybe make it better, and give them the confidence to try it.
And so, when I got to the last chapter, I think I was just in awe of the words, because I thought that I would be writing about this for the next 18 years.
I think it was kind of like, what a fantastic idea, and what an amazing book.
I love that idea.
Is it a book of contradictions?
Well, it definitely is a book that has its own narrative.
But, in a way, I’ve been doing it for a while now, because, honestly, I’m like, it has been so long.
Can you talk about your decision to write The Beauty Mystery?
My husband, Brian, who is a writer, had been talking to me for years about writing.
I remember when we first started talking about it, he was like [in awe], “Oh my god, this is crazy!”
I was like I can’t believe it!
He was like it is going to blow your mind!
It’s so amazing!
And then after a while, I started thinking about my life and what I was doing, and he was so excited that I felt compelled to write something about my journey.
Why did you write a memoir about yourself?
I wrote a book in college, and my book went to number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and a bunch of people thought that it was some kind of a joke, and they were like, “That’s so fucking amazing!
That’s what you want to be known for, right?”
And then I thought about it and I realized, I never want to go back to the first thing that people think I should be known as.
I want it to be this thing that I’ve done and that I want people to be proud of me for.
So, it kind of felt like, wow, this book is such a gift to me.
I have been in the fashion industry for six years now, so it’s not that I feel bad about writing about myself.
I feel like I have to do my best, and that this is my story, and the book is about me.
Do you think your story is interesting enough to make a book, or are you a perfectionistic perfectionist? For sure.
Are you a good reader?
Yes, I read a lot.
If I could read all the things I’ve written,