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Six Lessons Learned about Owning Your Life from the Bad Girls of Fashion

Love them or hate them, Fashion and Women’s Magazine Editors, even the fictional ones are often the bad girls of the business world. Miranda Priestly, Anna Winter, Kate White. What can we, mere ordinary mortals learn from them? As a former people pleaser, let me tell you, plenty. And you don’t have to turn into a b… well, unpopular female, to do it.

beautiful bad girl smoking as she puts o her mascara with the words "What the Bad Girls of Fashion Can Teach us."

1. Take yourself seriously.

Too often as women, we expect to be met with criticism, and ridicule for our ideas and dreams, let alone our work. Seems these days anything associated with the feminine or with “female” or “woman’s” work is seen as the work of simpletons.

But boss ladies never let anyone tell them their work is silly or stupid. Or be dismissive, even when it’s directly in the field of something feminine that the world has deemed “frivolous.”

Take that scene from “the Devil wears Prada,” where Andy snickers over just how serious everyone is taking a fashion photo shoot and accessorizing the model. and Miranda Priestly calls her out for it:.

The point? Whatever your work is, whether it’s a stay at home parent, an executive assistant, a fashion blogger or janitor, own it. People often want to crap all over women and women’s interests. Don’t let them.

You decide your worth, not other people.

2. Know what you want.

Must women understand perfectly what other people expect and want from them. What they are woefully unclear on is what they want. Ask a woman what she desires, and watch the confusion in her eyes. It’s clear that not a lot of people have ever asked her that.

But you’ll never get what you want, if you don’t even know what that would be. Some of the Queen Bees in business and life often seem to get the coveted jobs, clothes, vacations and men for the simple fact that they know, unequivocally, that they want it.

So take some time to ask yourself what you want for yourself, and what do you want from the people around you?

As Anna Wintour herself says:

“People respond well to people who are sure of what they want.”

3. Be Decisive.

Anna Wintour is known for making excellent decisions at breakneck speed, and people respect her for it. How does she do it?

Good decision-makers trust their gut and their initial feeling.

They don’t spend a lot of time analyzing it. So often as women, however, we get taught to talk ourselves out of our feelings. We’re told we’re too emotional as women, and can’t make good objective decisions.

I’ve got good news for you, science continues to show that our gut and emotions are the key to making good decisions.

If you get a weird feeling about something being “wrong,” or “off” you’re better off listening to your hunch, not over-analyzing it and attempting to talk yourself out of it, or make sure it’s real. I mean let’s be honest, how many times have you had that feeling about a partner or a friend, and wish you had ultimately listened to it?

And the same goes with getting a hit that something feels “right,” or like the perfect opportunity for us. Be willing to act on getting the “all clear — go ahead” vibe from your gut.

So be willing to trust your gut and make quick decisions. Your life will move forward at a faster pace. And other people will respect you more.

Why? Because a lot of times people try to talk us out of our initial feelings is so that we don’t rely on our own power and decision-making, but acquiesce to their opinions and desires instead.

4. “No,” is your best friend.

As women we often think our ability to get people to like us is where our power resides. But it’s not.

Don’t get me wrong, being liked is lovely, but not when it comes at the expense of your life, your integrity and your self-respect. People should like you, based on who you are, not the derriere-kissing and dirty work you’re willing to do for them, which let’s be clear, is often what women are doing to get people to like them.

Flattery, ingratiating yourself to others, and doing other people’s grunt work will never win you respect (whether they like you or not).

Being comfortable saying “no,” will.

Editors of magazines get this. Imagine never saying “no” to anything someone wants to put in a magazine that has your name on it? That you are responsible for?

Suddenly someone wants to put a political piece into a fashion magazine. But someone else is fascinated by fishing garments from India in the lates 1700s. And yet another person would get a hefty bonus check from a company making Tupperware if they do a piece on that for the magazine…

It would be a hot mess. And so will your life if you don’t learn to say “no,” to other people and their requests.

5. Expect the best from the people around you.

Now there’s a great example of the dark way of doing this in “the Devil Wears Prada.” Remember the scene where Miranda expects Andy to get her the unpublished newest Harry Potter book in the series, saying to her:

“It shouldn’t be that hard. And you can do anything, right?”

If you don’t ask for and expect the best? You’ll never get it. Now, you don’t have to torment others to get it, or play games like Miranda. You can be compassionate when people fail (including to yourself) to meet your expectations. But it doesn’t hurt to expect it.

As people-pleasers and good girls we often do the opposite. We learn to keep low standards for others and expect little so we’re never disappointed. Worse we learn to go ahead and just do it all ourselves. Which just encourages others to go ahead and let us do it all.

Change the game. Be compassionate, but also learn to expect people to rise to your level, and your standards.

6. Don't just break the rules, be the woman who makes them.

Kate White, the editor-in-chief of Cosmo magazine, talks about the moment a colleague brought her a trade magazine with an article written by a former employee about her.

In the article, this former employee complained that good girls like her, who followed the rules, never got ahead, and never got rewarded. But bad girls like her boss, Kate White, who not only broke the rules but seem to remake them anyway they liked, always did.

But how many rules do we have, as women, that are actual written in stone? And how many of the rules are simply all the endless ones put onto to ourselves trying to be perfect?

And who decided that as women we have to look and do it perfectly anyway?

Leaders, like editors-in-chief, don’t get ahead by being perfect, and they know that. They get ahead by being effective. Kate fully admits this in her rebuttal. As she puts is, what choice did she have in trying to run a huge magazine and rebuild the brand while being a mother?

She had to think not in terms of workload, but in terms of what is most important and will have the biggest effect on the bottom line.

Why not rethink your personal rules in the same way. Is this about me being perfect and a good girl that no one can get mad at and criticize? And if so, how can I remake the rule to get more of what I want. What would be not perfect, but really, really effective?

Again, we don't have to become "witches" to stand up for our lives and create success and what we desire, but we do have to become the leaders or our lives, or it will never work. And that is what the "bad girls" in business often show us. So, go out there, get bold, get gutsy and stay true to your heart.


I hope that helped you to figure out how to stop the insanity of the people-pleasing and create a freer, more expansive life, where you get to love yourself, no matter what anyone else in your life thinks.

If you’d like more help dissolving old people pleasing habits and finding the power in your “no,” I’m here for it!

I am a life coach for women ready to style, beautify and make their lives fun again! And having great boundaries is a big part of that. You can’t have a life of your own, until you learn how to make peace with telling others “no.”

So if you’re ready that, book here for you FREE consult! It’s a fun way to get clarity, chat about what’s going on, and see what life coaching is all about!

With that, I’m off! I will see you all next week!

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