Danielle in the Andros Top and Pleated Short
Introducing “Inspire”, a brand new series from Caroline Constas focusing on female entrepreneurs and leaders, sharing their stories of struggle, success, and the long path to make a difference in their business and in the world. Each has moments filled with failure and self-doubt, and yet each ultimately triumphed and was willing to share her story and let others learn from her mistakes. Meet an inspiring woman each month right here at carolineconstas.com.
“I try to remind myself work is not everything. It’s what I do, not who I am,” says fashion editor Danielle Prescod on a phone interview from New York.
Prescod is candid about all the experiences—good and bad—that have brought her to where she is today. She’s currently the Style Director at bet.com, a role which came after editorships at glossies like ELLE, Teen Vogue and InStyle, as well luxury e-commerce site Moda Operandi. While her resume hits all the notes of a successful career in fashion, where she is today is hardly the sum of her professional parts.
Prescod’s journey through fashion, and now entertainment, is one that’s filled with self-exploration, along with conscious consideration of the industry and how to push it forward as a leader.
“My biggest personal challenge in this industry was my body image. I had an eating disorder my whole life, and it was exacerbated by this business where being thin is celebrated. It is rewarded. It is encouraged, and it is incessantly talked about,” she admits.
The first half of Prescod’s life saw her battling anorexia, because she equated starvation with the most effective way to stay thin. When she entered college at New York University’s Gallatin School for Individualized Study, she began suffering from bulimia as well, and for the next decade, she ping-ponged dangerously between both disorders as means to stay thin.
It wasn’t until she began her journey towards future motherhood last year by freezing her eggs that things fundamentally shifted. While freezing her eggs and undergoing In-Vitro Fertilization, exercise was strictly prohibited before and after the various processes of hormone treatments and surgeries, and she was so hungry from it all that she was eating all the time. “Afterwards, I went to a nutritionist to help me lose the weight and he was going to put me on a really miserable meal plan,” she recalls. “That’s when I said, I’m done with this.” Since then she’s gained 30 pounds. It’s been difficult, but also incredibly liberating, because it’s a huge accomplishment towards a healthy body and healthy body image. More importantly, it means she’s overcoming the disorders.
Danielle in the Tilos Top
These body issues were partly fueled by what she considers as the most problematic issue in the industry, which is ascribing value to people based on how they look and what they’ve done, ignoring the human aspects of a person altogether. “Working in entertainment, we are at the mercy of the celebrities we work with, they can act and treat us however they want. That also happened in fashion. If you were an EIC or a top editor, they could be an absolute terror. Why? Because they are allowed to do that,” she says. “For this to change, it’s gonna take so much.”
Coupled with this troublesome concept of ascribing value to people based on their physical image is the concept of race—what is the consideration of race other than judgment based on the color of a person’s skin? In fashion and entertainment, this consideration (or lack thereof) has meant these industries have continued to exist with extremely limited diversity and under-representation. Even still, Prescod remains cautiously optimistic about the future. “It will take a concentrated effort of people to really dismantle racist attitudes and to almost relearn history in a way,” she says. “There’s no way this will be done in my lifetime, but I have the hope that in the same way that my grandparents are pleased that I have had an easier time than them, my kids will be better off than me.”
Danielle in the Wren
She finds personal inspiration far from the material worlds in which she works—in nature. Prescod is always on the search for greater opportunities to interact with the natural world, from being a budding—yet avid—equestrian to taking time away outside of New York City. She’s even considering moving to Los Angeles in pursuit of a life more balanced with nature, and between COVID and Black Lives Matter, she feels that now, more than ever, is the time to divorce herself from excess.
In the meantime, she serves as the sort of leader she wants to see in the industry. She doesn’t expect her team, or herself, to work the hours that fashion has historically demanded. She doesn’t ascribe her self-worth and value to what she is doing professionally and encourages her team to do the same. As a boss, she doesn’t push people, she doesn’t abuse people, and she’s long since stopped accepting the industry mantra that one is lucky to have a job.
Danielle in the Bardot Maxi Dress
“I earned my spot. I deserve to be here, just as much as everyone else,” she says.
As for real change, she puts the onus individuals to make change by starting with themselves. “It’s gonna take a massive societal shift, but people need to start with a lot of personal work,” says Prescod. “And it’s hard to take a look at yourself. It takes a lot to want to access that part of yourself.”
Interview by Rebecca Suhrawardi