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Keeping things Broad - with Polly Vernon

If you know what the Chart of Lust is, Read on, Known for her wit and ability to never mince her words, Grazia Columnist, Features writer for the The Sunday Times, Interviewer & Author Polly Vernon talks to By Elleven about meeting Pop Stars, why Fast Fashion is so hideous and the Controversy surrounding her book "Hot Feminist"

When did you decide you wanted to be a journalist, and were you inspired by any female writers?

I wanted to meet pop stars and it seemed like the most direct route. This is quite true. But I had also written for myself, pre internet, for the whole of my young life, notebooks full of stories, poems, diaries, I knew I loved doing it. I didn’t realise til my early 20s that I was any good at it, but after one of my bosses (at Miss Selfridge press office) told me I wrote the best press release she’d ever read, I started trying. And it worked out! And I have met A LOT of pop stars. 

You wrote a book "Hot Feminist" and have written columns which have caused some controversy, how do you deal with that level of attention and scrutiny? And Is it something you are comfortable with, do you write to provoke opinion?

I don’t think there’s any point in sharing opinions everyone already agrees with. If you make people uncomfortable and angry, and what you are writing is heartfelt and has truth for you, then you’re doing something right. At the same time, it can be incredibly hard to deal with a pile on, or even a few people just being mean. I had a really hard time with it, after the book, which was so personal and heartfelt. But you do grow a tougher skin over time, your work kind of stands up and justifies itself over time (with any luck), and even though some people are literally responding furiously to my current Grazia column as I write: I’m very much in the I Must Be Doing Something Right mode 

Having worked at Grazia & Vogue you have described yourself as  "fashion adjacent", how do you find the balance between writing about fashion, which could be considered "fluffy" and more serious topics?

I just do it. I think it’s so patronising to assume you’re one or the other, so stay in your lane. I love clothes. I love makeup. I can defend abortion rights til the cows come home. Most of the people I know are the same. 

Where do you stand on fast fashion?

On an aesthetic level, it looks AWFUL. Why would you? On a moral level, it’s indefensible. I do however allow that it’s super hard to have no money, to be priced out of mid range fashion. Vintage is definitely AN answer, but we need major societal shifts in other directions too. 

How we consume our media has changed so much, do you still enjoy turning the pages on a good book or do you have a Kindle, likewise the Sunday Supplements, do you read them online or in paper form?

Hmmmm, all of the above. I do have a Kindle, which I really like, but books are beautiful and of course I like to pick up a supp, So I take my media all the ways. 

You have recently launched your own Substack, Broad. How would you describe the content you write on there? 

It’s that thing you asked me before about the balance between light and heavier stuff. And it means I can cover all the in-between layers too. Sometimes at the same time. One of my subscribers emailed me to ask if she could still wear a crop top at 45, my answer embraced fashion, ageism, the way women judge one another, the way society connives to control us with shame… it’s probably my favourite post so far because it is so very very Broad. 

Check out Polly's Substack here

Polly Vernon has been a features writer, interviewer and columnist for 18 years. She now writes primarily for The Times and Grazia. She started as a junior writer on Minx, a riotous young woman's magazine, which launched in the late 90s as a female response to Loaded.


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