Which industry do you work in and what do you love and/or loathe about it?
I’m a journalist working mainly for youth culture and luxury fashion magazines. I love learning about people and culture, especially radical artists and activists, and the freedom to form my own opinions and communicate them. I loathe the sore lack of diversity in the industry and the small-c conservatism this engenders.
How did you get into your job/industry?
I started off writing a blog and volunteering for the diversity in fashion initiative All Walks, eventually managing the campaign blog and social media accounts. Then I started writing freelance for Dazed and i-D while I worked full time at London College of Fashion, before getting a full-time job at i-D.
Have you always wanted to work in your industry?
No, I don’t think so. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was lucky to start out with All Walks because the women who launched it – Debra Bourne, Caryn Franklin and Erin O’Connor – already knew everything about how the industry works and had a vision for how it ought to change for the better. It was a practical and radical education, delivered with kindness and care. Some people have a terrible time in intern roles in the fashion industry and if I’d had to go through that I’m sure I would have quit.
Does it feel like a good 'fit' for you as a neurodivergent woman?
Yes and no! Working for youth culture publications there is a greater acceptance of radical and divergent opinions. It’s good that I don’t think like other people because that’s novel and therefore valuable. But on the other hand, while workplaces are often billed as relaxed and non-hierarchical, if you take this as fact you will soon bump up against the hidden hierarchies that are always there. For an autistic person, it would be easier if these social rules were made plain. For example, managers sometimes ask for honest feedback when they absolutely do not want to hear it. That can be a killer!
Any anecdotes that you feel might be insightful?
Not really an anecdote, but thought about ‘influence’. If I am influential as a neurodivergent woman (/non-binary person) then I take it to be a duty. A duty to use it to make life better for other neurodivergent people who have been pathologised and often stripped of influence over their own lives. The brutal treatment of many autistic children and adults weighs heavily on me. If I have influence, I hope I work to use it well.
Words of wisdom
I would also say: try not to fall into binary thinking about neurodiversity – it comes with both positive and negative elements. Find/fight for the support you deserve to enable you to thrive in this neurotypical world and bask in your exquisite luck at all the good parts!
Use your diagnosis as a way to understand yourself better, to advocate for yourself and to find community, but remember that you are much more than a set of diagnostic criteria. It's a cliche to say, but you are uniquely you. And join a trade union!