Nylon’s lesbian editor-in-chief talks diversity, inclusion in her memoir

Terri Schlichenmeyer | Bookwormsez

Everybody Else is Perfect: How I Survived Hypocrisy, Beauty, Clicks, and Likes by Gabrielle Korn; c. 2021, Atria. $17; 272 pages.

What defines beauty?

Does “beauty” differ from “pretty,” or is it just another degree based on the look of one’s skin or depth of the eyes? An enigmatic smile or a joyful grin? Is beauty slim or curvy, curly or straight, aloof or engaging?

No matter how you define it, you know what it is, so read Everybody Else is Perfect by Gabrielle Korn and learn why you can see it more clearly today.

Flawless. Exquisite. Elegant. That’s what you normally see in fashion ads and layouts: Models who are impeccably gorgeous — and mostly white. Rarely, at least until recently, did any of them look much like Gabrielle Korn.

Growing up, Korn was fascinated by fashion, make-up and style — and women, which she thought was true with every girl. Once she understood that it wasn’t, she tried to like boys. But something was missing. She was in college before she could allow herself to utter a word that described her sexuality.

Out, family-supported and with degree in-hand, Korn began a career that first included jobs in public relations, archives and at a sex toy store. A “famous gay historian” had encouraged her to write, so she cut her teeth on non-paid magazine gigs and freelancing assignments at several different places, including Refinery29 and Nylon.

Back then, says Korn, thin, white, flawless cisgender women were overwhelmingly represented in beauty and fashion, to the detriment of women of color and LGBTQ models. So she pushed for more diversity. After becoming Nylon’s youngest editor-in-chief (a job she landed the day the print edition folded), she made sure that diversity and inclusion were a main ingredient in the online magazine.

And yet, for Korn, it’ll never be enough.

“The fact that we live in a world where I can scream from the rooftops about how gay I am doesn’t mean the work is over,”she says. “It means [the work] can finally begin in earnest.”

Everybody Else is Perfect is a little like a ping pong ball in a vacuum cleaner: Sometimes, it catches a rest and sometimes, it bounces frantically.

Author and Refinery29 beauty-and-fashion director Gabrielle Korn begins with a moment of deserved pride: becoming an editor-in-chief of a national e-zine at an astoundingly young age. But she switches subjects quickly then, writing about her childhood, young adulthood and her career, and that’s where she stays for about half the book, focusing on a carom of job-taking before sliding into TMI about salary and money.

About mid-story, Korn then turns to her personal life once again. It’s here where readers will be riveted by Korn’s battles with eating disorders, sexual harassment and relationship issues that weave together with her thoughts on the beauty industry as a whole and how it can do better for women of all races, appearances and sexualities.

Overall, that leaves a wonderful message and meaning inside Everybody Else is Perfect, but readers who demand linear tales may struggle with it since its bounce is pronounced. If you can overlook that, though, you’ll find this book to be pretty okay.