Girl Power

Episode Overview

On this episode, Amber sits down with Jess Weiss, Strategy Manager at Google and Co-founder of Trix Magazine, to explore the psychology behind popular terms like #girlboss, and the layers of culture and identity that characterize the next generation of female leaders.
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Topics Covered

Women and beauty: Trained in leadership development and unconscious biases, Jess Weiss was surprised to find that 95% percent of women’s magazines printed in English primarily focus on fashion and beauty. Assuming that women are consumed by makeup and clothing, companies are missing an opportunity to reach women in more substantive ways. And that’s where Trix comes in: a new kind of women’s magazine that focuses on the quality, not appearance, of women’s lives. The magazine aims to deliver content that speaks to the curiosity, agency and grit of women all over the world today.

Advertising and its impacts: Jess talks about the detrimental effects typical beauty magazines have on girls and women’s psyche, leaving behind heavy issues with self worth and self-esteem. Jess shares that she developed an eating disorder in high school and discusses how brands that perpetuate stereotypes - skinny models, photoshopped images, etc. tend to isolate their market instead of inspire them. Incorporating more relatable role models actually generates more returns in every aspect of a woman’s life. Showcasing strong role models, sharing their stories, emotional process and success is the angle that Trix takes — highlighting women in action instead of the bystanders that traditional media portrays.  

Women’s Empowerment: When designing the Trix brand, Jess and her co-founders were intentional about how they would position the magazine — steering away from the more popular “girlboss” trends that have dominated the female market. Throughout her research, Jess came across studies that showed how tying together these “inspirational” messages were actually counterintuitive. For example, associating “girl” with the word “boss” or designing a message around elements tied to empowerment actually reinforce the notion that women are missing something. The word “empower,” actually means “authority or power given to someone to do something.” Jess points out that there is plenty of evidence of women who have power.

The term “girlboss” also links women’s identities to capitalism. Jess points out that linking women’s success to one aspect of our identity is problematic — limiting the dialogue about what success means for women from different cultures, economic status, etc.

Statements such as “women empowerment,” “pink power,” and “girlboss” reinforce the fallacy that women are not there yet in a society that already places these limitations on women every day.  

Amber notes that when companies engage in a branding exercise, they need to keep in mind the impacts their direction may have on the community and ensure they take a holistic approach.

Intersectional perspectives: Recognizing that women are multidimensional, Jess discusses how important it was for her and the other founders to acknowledge the role their perspectives play. As three white women from educated, middle class American backgrounds, they acknowledge how their privileges influence their experiences. To ensure inclusivity, they made the decision to focus on a global perspective. At Trix, they committed to:

  1. Be intentional - Trix includes contributors from all over the world to pitch and share stories through their eyes.  The founders are  intentional about not just including people from their network but spending ample time conducting focus groups, getting to know and seeking those from different backgrounds.
  2. Select unique voices - They hand select contributors who are able to bring different forms of talent and aspirations to the table.

An inclusive space: Men & Non-binary: Women do not operate in isolation. Jess and Amber talk about the importance of recognizing the space men occupy in women’s lives whether that be as a partner, father, brother or son, and how the inclusion of women doesn’t always mean the exclusion of men. 33% of Trix’s readers self-identify as men and the team noticed that recognizing men’s vulnerabilities and challenges allowed them to shift the conversation of women’s rights to equal rights.

Recognizing that the binary is a social construct, Jess speaks about how the magazine pushes for inclusion by incorporating conversations, stories and content that lives outside of the binary.

Jess Weiss

Jess Weiss is the Publisher and Co-founder of Trix, where she looks after the magazine’s commercial, editorial and brand viability, strategic partnerships, and overall business strategy.

A full-time strategist for Google’s Executive Leadership Development team, she leverages her organizational psychology background to steep Trix’s editorial angle in research about media gender bias, stereotype threat, and the positive impact of visible role models on young girls and women.

In her free time, she’ll take any opportunity to jump on an airplane, most recently to Uganda, where she volunteered as a leadership development consultant to local nonprofits and hiked alongside wild mountain gorillas.

Connect with Jess on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.



Produced by: Kai-Saun Anderson

Music by: Podington Bear - Soft Driver and Rope Swing

Jessica Weiss's Photo by: Lurm

About the host

Amber Anderson

Co-Founder + Head of Strategy
Amber Anderson is the co-founder of T+P where she specializes in strategy, marketing and product management.

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