Please note: This transcript has been automatically generated.

Susie Banikarim (00:01):

There’s a scene at the end of The Devil Wears Prada, where the character, Miranda Priestly, a famed and famously demanding fashion editor, gives her young assistant, Andy, a rare compliment.

Clips (00:12):

I see a great deal of myself in you.

Susie Banikarim (00:14):

This comment comes after a turning point in the movie, where Miranda has just saved her own career by brutally betraying someone who has been enormously loyal to her. So Andy is horrified by this comparison, and she rejects it. She says she’s not sure that she wants to be like Miranda.

Clips (00:33):

I mean, what if I don’t want to live the way you live?


Oh, don’t be ridiculous, Andrea. Everybody wants this. Everybody wants to be us.

Susie Banikarim (00:45):

But does everybody want the glamorous, punishing life at the center of this story? That’s the central question of the movie and this episode. I’m Susie Banikarim.

Jessica Bennett (00:58):

And I’m Jessica Bennett.

Susie Banikarim (00:59):

And this is In Retrospect where each week, we revisit a cultural moment from the past that shaped us.

Jessica Bennett (01:05):

And that we just can’t stop thinking about.

Susie Banikarim (01:07):

Today, we’re talking about The Devil Wears Prada and the way it depicts women’s ambition. But we’re also talking about how a cautionary tale about sacrificing everything for your job ended up glamorizing exactly that. Jess, as we’ve said, we’re talking about the Devil Wears Prada today, a movie starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway and this fraught relationship they have. Anne Hathaway is a recent college grad. It’s her first job, and Meryl Streep plays her famous and powerful boss. And this is a circumstance you and I are somewhat familiar with in lots of different variations.

Jessica Bennett (01:47):

No, no comment. No comment. Not at all.

Susie Banikarim (01:49):

Exactly. Yeah. We’ve both worked for some famous and powerful women, some not so famous, but certainly complicated women, is how I would describe a lot of them. I think that’s partially why I feel so connected to the movie, and it is a movie I have seen countless times. It came out in 2006, and I honestly can’t tell you when I first saw it. I don’t remember if I saw it in the theater, but have you seen the movie? Do you remember what you thought about it or what you’ve thought about it over the years?

Jessica Bennett (02:19):

I mean, I of course saw it, and I think it came out at a time when I had just moved to New York and had dreams of becoming a journalist. So I was very interested from that perspective. Obviously, it’s not that true to life, but it’s really fun. Though, I forgot a lot of the details, so can you give me the Cliff Notes version?

Susie Banikarim (02:39):

Yeah, I think the more recent version is Spark Notes, but same thing, I will give you a little summary of the movie. So Andy, who I said is played by Anne Hathaway, has moved to New York right after college to pursue a career in journalism. She was the editor-in-chief of her college paper. She has this dream of working at The New Yorker or someplace serious like that.

Jessica Bennett (03:02):

Of course, this is what all my students want to do also.

Susie Banikarim (03:04):

So Andy goes to interview at a big publishing company thinking she’s going to get a job at some serious place, but randomly, the HR person tells her there’s availability to be the second assistant to Miranda Priestly, who is the editor-in-chief of Runway magazine, which is a fashion magazine. That character is played by Meryl Streep and is widely understood to be a very thinly veiled depiction of Anna Wintour, who is the famed longtime editor of Vogue magazine. So despite this amazing opportunity, Andy knows nothing about fashion or fashion magazines. She gets the job because she has this moment while she’s standing in Miranda Priestly’s office where she pitches herself as hardworking and smart, and Miranda decides to give her the job.

Jessica Bennett (03:56):

So we all know Miranda is just brutal as a boss, but paint us a little bit of a picture.

Susie Banikarim (04:00):

She’s pretty terrible. She’s cold and demanding, and she makes really unreasonable requests that are essentially impossible. At one point, she demands that Andy find a flight for her during a literal hurricane, and it’s like, why can’t you get me out of here? And then there’s another example where she demands that Andy get her the unpublished manuscript of the next Harry Potter book for her daughters, and Andy actually achieves that one. But Andy is determined to survive this job for at least a year because everyone keeps telling her that a million girls would kill for this job and that if she can just stick it out and succeed, that Miranda will be able to help her get those serious jobs she really wants.

Jessica Bennett (04:43):

Which is not dissimilar from what these types of bosses actually do promise in real life.

Susie Banikarim (04:48):

No, I mean it’s exactly what these bosses do promise. So initially she fumbles and she doesn’t really hide her disdain for fashion. There’s all these moments where they’re doing fittings and she’s kind of making a face or snickering, and that is very much noted by Miranda who finds it super annoying. And then there’s this first assistant played by Emily Blunt. So Andy is the second assistant. Miranda has two assistants, and that’s a seniority thing. The first assistant is more senior than the second assistant, and Emily Blunt is just hilarious in this. She steals a lot of the scenes and she just cannot understand Andy. She doesn’t think she’s deserving of the job, she doesn’t understand her fashion. She’s just kind of like, Miranda’s decided to hire you, but I’m just putting up with you essentially.

Clips (05:35):

Oh, I’m sorry. Do you have some prior commitment, some hideous skirt convention you have to go to?

Susie Banikarim (05:40):

But one of the other fashion editors played by Stanley Tucci takes Andy under his wing and she goes from being this unfashionable rube to hot and stylish.

Jessica Bennett (05:49):

Of course. Could have predicted that.

Susie Banikarim (05:51):

And in the process, she becomes seduced by the environment and this desire to please Miranda. So that is the context of the movie, and that is where we are when we get to this scene that we played at the top of the episode.

Jessica Bennett (06:04):

Yeah. Okay. So the scene. What drew you to this scene in particular?

Susie Banikarim (06:07):

Well, I love the scene. I think I always have, but over time I’ve become kind of more drawn to it because it really encapsulates for me the central tension in many women’s careers, in my career, in the careers I see of my friends. I think when you’re young, you do want this life. You want to be hugely successful, you want these big jobs, but you don’t really fully understand the sacrifices you’re going to make. You’re told that there will be sacrifices, but as you go through, you see what that really means for your life, and that is really complicated. So this dynamic, this tension between them is a reflection of, I think, something that we all struggle with internally, really.

Jessica Bennett (06:48):

And the scene begins where this tension is playing out.

Susie Banikarim (06:51):

So the scene comes at the end of the movie after Andy has gone through her transformation.

Jessica Bennett (06:56):

Her fashion transformation?

Susie Banikarim (06:58):

Yeah, her fashion transformation. Now she’s wearing amazing clothes and has a great haircut, and she does look, I will say, impeccable. And she has seemingly bought into this world and kind of in a Stockholm syndrome kind of way. You see that all of her relationships are in tatters. She keeps ditching her friends and family, and she and her boyfriend have just broken up because she’s so obsessed with her work.

Jessica Bennett (07:23):

Oh, that’s right. Because she’s obsessed with her work. I feel like that’s also another frequent plot line in these types of things. It’s like the boyfriend can’t handle how devoted to your career you are.

Susie Banikarim (07:30):

Yeah. Can’t handle it. And they’re in Paris for Fashion Week. And even coming on this trip to Paris is supposed to be an indication that Andy has lost her way because it is Emily the first assistant who is supposed to go on this trip. It is a huge deal to go to Paris Fashion Week. And Emily has been talking about it for months, and now Andy has gone instead because Miranda has taken a liking to her and has said to Andy, you can come to Paris instead, but you have to tell Emily.

Jessica Bennett (08:02):

Oh, right. She’s pitting them against each other.

Susie Banikarim (08:04):

And now in Paris, Andy has discovered that Miranda is about to be fired and replaced by a much younger European editor, and she’s desperately trying to get to Miranda to warn her. And then unbeknownst to Andy, Miranda has already been aware of the plan and has outmaneuvered the publisher by getting the younger editor another job. And it’s a particularly brutal move and moment in the movie because Miranda has saved herself by giving the job that had been promised to the character played by Stanley Tucci to this other editor to get her out of the way. And so Stanley Tucci, who is this really loyal deputy who’s worked for her for years, who, you see in an earlier scene, is so excited about this new role now is stuck still at Runway magazine with her. And now Andy and Miranda are in a car together. And Andy is reeling from this because she has seen all of this go down and Miranda acknowledges that she saw how hard Andy tried to warn her and was impressed by that. And then she says to her…

Clips (09:15):

I see a great deal of myself in you.

Susie Banikarim (09:18):

And obviously Miranda means this as a compliment, but you can see just by the reaction on Andy’s face that she does not hear it as a compliment. And she objects. She says, “but I would never do what you did, Miranda.” And Miranda reminds her that she already did…

Jessica Bennett (09:35):

She already has.

Susie Banikarim (09:35):

… to the other assistant she replaced to go on this trip.

Clips (09:38):

No, no. That was different. I didn’t have a choice.


Oh no, you chose. You chose to get ahead. You want this life, those choices are necessary.


But what if this isn’t what I want? I mean, what if I don’t want to live the way you live?


Don’t be ridiculous, Andrea. Everybody wants this. Everybody wants to be us.

Jessica Bennett (10:06):

It’s so funny because she truly can’t conceive a world in which people don’t want what she has and what she has to do to hold onto it.

Susie Banikarim (10:16):


Jessica Bennett (10:16):

So yeah, it is a very poignant moment in that way, because Andy has realized that she’s doing the same thing.

Susie Banikarim (10:25):

Right. And just to finish this moment, when they arrive at the event they’re going to, Andy turns and leaves Miranda alone. And while she’s walking away, Miranda calls her and you see Andy look at her phone and it shows Miranda’s name, and Andy throws her phone into a nearby fountain.

Jessica Bennett (10:42):

That’s right.

Susie Banikarim (10:43):

So she’s like relinquished this life, and we don’t know how she gets back to New York. We don’t know anything else, but she has walked away in the middle of the most important week of Miranda Priestly’s year. And back in New York, we see Andy go to a job interview at a newspaper, the kind of serious publication she has said all along she wants to work at.

Jessica Bennett (11:01):

Right, she’s back in her dowdy clothes.

Susie Banikarim (11:05):

Although still with a much more fashionable touch, I will say. She still has a fabulous haircut. And so this editor who is interviewing tells her that he’s reached out to Miranda for a reference, and you see the look across Andy’s face. And he says he received a note back saying that Andy was the biggest disappointment, but he’d be an idiot not to hire her. And ultimately, that’s how we know this is a cautionary tale. Andy has made a deal with the devil, the devil in Prada. She’s lost her way. She’s disappointed her friends and family, but by the end, she’s seen the error of her ways she’s saved herself. And luckily for her, because it’s a fantasy, she’s reaped the benefits anyway. She’s now gotten this other job because Miranda has still given her her seal of approval, which it is a fantasy. So it is the fantasy we all have that boss who was terrible to us secretly thought we were amazing. That is the redemption we all want.


So obviously this movie is not high art. I don’t want to make it seem like we’re going into the ins and outs of this movie because I think it’s the best movie ever made, but it is the rare chick flick that isn’t centered on a man. It’s about a girl and her ambitions and figure out what she wants. The boyfriend storyline is a secondary plot point, and they don’t end up together. And the role of Miranda Priestly is not something we saw a lot in this way. A woman who is highly successful, unapologetic, fully in charge, and is really seen as a leader in this industry.

Jessica Bennett (12:44):

I mean, it reminds me of, like, there’s those movies about female ambition, in a way, from the eighties, I am thinking about Baby Boom and wasn’t there Working Girl?

Susie Banikarim (12:53):

Yes. Those are both movies I love, and they are both about women trying to make their way in their working lives. But in both those movies, the romance is still very central, and they do end up with a hot guy at the end, and that is seen as part of the happy ending. And here the happy ending is that she gets the job she wants, right? That’s a really big difference.

Jessica Bennett (13:16):

Did you relate to Andy in watching it at the time? I remember, yes, I too wanted to be a serious journalist, but I don’t know that I ever thought I would be capable of walking away in the same way she did.

Susie Banikarim (13:27):

I definitely didn’t relate to that. I mean, I felt like I had to do whatever it took to succeed, and I was willing to do that. I was not the girl who was going to throw her phone in the fountain. I had bills to pay and student loans and did what I had to.

Jessica Bennett (13:43):

Immigrant mentality probably, too.

Susie Banikarim (13:45):

Yeah, definitely immigrant mentality. I did not feel like I was in a position where I had a safety net, so there was no place to go.

Jessica Bennett (13:52):

I mean, I guess that’s the fantasy aspect of this movie is that most people are not in the position to throw their work phone into the fountain and just hope that you’re going to get another job.

Susie Banikarim (14:03):

And I actually, I went back to my LinkedIn, because I couldn’t remember where I was in my own career when this happened.

Jessica Bennett (14:08):

In 2006? Yeah.

Susie Banikarim (14:08):

So in 2006, I was working at ABC News. At that time, George Stephanopoulos was the host of This Week, which I think he still hosts sometimes. And I did have a very intense female boss who definitely had some Miranda Priestly-like demands.

Jessica Bennett (14:26):

Okay, so now you have to tell us what kind of demands those were.

Susie Banikarim (14:29):

One thing that seems very Miranda-like is that she needed her daily papers to be unwrinkled. So before she came in, her assistant would put her papers on her desk and she had to make sure she got only unwrinkled copies, which I’m not even sure how you guarantee that. I know she wasn’t ironing them, so that’s a very funny thing. She must have gone to the newsstand and selected…

Jessica Bennett (14:52):

Oh, unwrinkled copies of the papers. I thought you just meant papers in general. Oh, the newspaper.

Susie Banikarim (14:58):

The papers. Like the newspaper.

Jessica Bennett (14:59):

The newspaper. So she had to make sure she wasn’t getting the top one at the bodega. She had to dig deeper.

Susie Banikarim (15:03):

Yeah, she just had to make sure that whatever New York Times or New York Post she was picking up, they were pristine.

Jessica Bennett (15:09):


Susie Banikarim (15:09):

And then we had a very intense rule that you would get in trouble for if you didn’t, when you sent an email, on the “to” line, the names had to be an order of seniority. If I sent an email to two people and one of them was junior, they had to be second on the chain, or…

Jessica Bennett (15:28):

I think that I do do that. I don’t demand other people do it…

Susie Banikarim (15:29):

I still do, too.

Jessica Bennett (15:33):

… but I think that I do do that because it just kind of makes logical sense. But I’m sure younger people where email was not their primary way of communicating or who came up on Slack, probably think that’s insane.

Susie Banikarim (15:44):

And I also do that still too, just because locked into my brain, I can’t get it out of my brain. But the other one that I think is particularly funny is if we had a cake in the office for someone’s birthday, the assistant had to make sure to hand out the pieces of cake in the order of seniority.

Jessica Bennett (16:01):

That’s so funny. So, true hierarchy to everything, very hierarchical.

Susie Banikarim (16:06):

It was this kind of obsession with order. Things had to be a very specific way, which just were not chill at all.

Jessica Bennett (16:14):

I will say though, that with so many of these stories, it’s like there are plenty of male bosses that do this kind of shit too. Maybe not with the cake. Maybe it’s like the menu just playing out in different ways, but we don’t necessarily call them demanding in the same way we just call them men.

Susie Banikarim (16:31):

Well, I will tell you a great story I know like this about a male boss at ABC is, I have a friend who was an assistant to an executive producer, and he used to make her follow him to the bathroom, and he would continue to shout notes at her through the door, and she’d have to take notes while he was peeing, which is disgusting. But yeah, I don’t remember anyone ever calling that guy a diva. And to be clear, this is a woman who I enjoyed working for enough that I went to work for her again. She was demanding and difficult, but I saw that as just the way you had to be, to be in these jobs. I didn’t have a lot of examples of people in these jobs who were kind and compassionate and wanted to coddle me. This was the deal.

Jessica Bennett (17:15):

And also, for what it’s worth, if you’re running a company or whatever the job may be, you probably don’t have time to coddle your assistant. On some level, maybe I’m sympathetic a little bit to some of this. Cancel me.


Am I remembering correctly that this movie was based on a book?

Susie Banikarim (17:43):

Yes, it was based on a best-selling book of the same name. It was written by Lauren Weisberger, and the book came out in 2003. And the book was itself a cultural phenomenon. It was really popular. It came out at the peak of the Chic-Lit era. And most relevant is that Weisberger had actually been Anna Wintour’s assistant at Vogue, which is why it was so widely understood that Wintour was the inspiration for Priestly.

Jessica Bennett (18:10):

It’s probably worth spending a little time, for those who might not know as much as we do, talking about who Anna Wintour is.

Susie Banikarim (18:17):

Yeah. She is not just the editor of a fashion magazine. She has literally been called the single most important figure in the $300 billion global fashion industry. As you might expect from a famous fashion editor, she has a very distinctive look, this classic bob that she’s had for years, with bangs. She’s often seen wearing sunglasses. She’s always flawless. And I was actually thinking, I wonder if I’ve ever seen her in casual clothes?

Jessica Bennett (18:47):

Yeah, I haven’t.

Susie Banikarim (18:49):

So I googled Anna Wintour and jeans, and apparently she does have jeans because I found some pictures of it and she looks great in them, but she is sort of, in your mind, if you’ve seen lots of images of her, which I have, and I’m sure you have too, this very polished person, and she became the Vogue editor in chief in 1988. Isn’t that crazy? Thirty-five years ago.

Jessica Bennett (19:11):

Is she the longest serving? That’s a huge amount of time for an editor in chief, to be clear.

Susie Banikarim (19:16):

I mean, most people last two years in a job in media. So the fact that she’s been atop the most famous fashion magazine in the world for 35 years is really an achievement. And just wild. I mean, she’s been in that job longer than a lot of people have been alive. And she was promoted in 2013 to Conde Nast’s artistic director. So she doesn’t just lead Vogue anymore. She is the editorial leader of all the titles of Conde Nast, which include The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair, and Wired and a bunch of other things.

Jessica Bennett (19:49):

Yeah, I remember watching that documentary about her, what was it, The September Issue?

Susie Banikarim (19:53):

Yes. There is a documentary about her called The September Issue. It was released in 2009. And the thing about Anna is, she’s very much seen as a visionary, as someone who can see things coming down the line and lead rather than follow. So she’s credited with seeing the power of celebrity culture really early in the cycle and realizing before other people did that it made sense to put celebrities on the cover. It used to be models on the cover of Fashion magazine. It’s Anna who’s really credited with changing that.

Jessica Bennett (20:24):

And she runs the Met Gala too, which is the biggest celebrity event of all.

Susie Banikarim (20:28):

Yes, she throws the Met Gala, which is a benefit for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.

Clips (20:33):

It’s the first Monday in May, which means fashion’s biggest night is finally here.

Susie Banikarim (20:39):

Just running that would make her a huge cultural figure. Celebrities are desperate for invites to that. So it’s really hard to overstate her power and influence. But also she is famously inaccessible. She is famously kind of known to be someone with very high standards.

Jessica Bennett (20:55):

Isn’t the rumor that if you are an assistant or a junior editorial person at Vogue, you are not allowed to make eye contact with her in the elevator? That’s what I’ve always heard.

Susie Banikarim (21:04):

Yes, I’ve heard that you’re not allowed to say hello to her or make eye contact. And frankly, that’s been true of other bosses I’ve had. So that does not surprise me as a rumor. I feel like that could very much be real.

Jessica Bennett (21:17):

Okay. So how close to reality do we think the book and the movie and actual Anna Wintour are?

Susie Banikarim (21:23):

That’s a great question. The Devil Wears Prada is technically fiction. So I reached out to Samhita Mukhopadhyay, who worked for Anna Wintour as the executive editor at Teen Vogue and happens to also be the author of an upcoming book on women and work and ambition. Of course, Samhita was an editor, so she obviously had a very different job than Andy did in the movie. But here’s how Samhita describes being interviewed by Anna Wintour.

Samhita Mukhopadhyay (21:48):

I was very anxious to meet her. It just was never a position I’d ever thought I’d be in, which would be to interview with her. And when I had that opportunity, unlike Andy, I researched like crazy for how I would show up that day.

Susie Banikarim (22:01):

You prepared.

Samhita Mukhopadhyay (22:02):

Yeah, I prepared and there were multiple articles written about what to wear and what not to wear the first time you meet Anna.

Susie Banikarim (22:07):

So what are you supposed to wear and what are you not supposed to wear?

Samhita Mukhopadhyay (22:11):

Well, interestingly, a lot of the articles say not to wear black, that she doesn’t like black. And this has kind of been a long rumor for her that she just prefers color and brightness. Upon meeting her, I don’t think it would’ve mattered at all what I wore. And so it was deeply humbling to be like, oh, this is this big character that exists that’s a larger than life character, but you are actually just a person that’s trying to make the proper business and editorial decision for this brand that you oversee.


It was a big wake-up moment because I planned so much for what I was going to wear, and I bought myself a Gucci handbag and I practically wore it hanging around my neck. None of it was necessary. She really just wanted to talk about my editorial experience and my taste in culture. So it was definitely one of those myth-busting moments where I was… And she wasn’t wearing sunglasses either, by the way.

Jessica Bennett (23:06):

Okay, I love all the behind the scenes interview stuff, but I have to say the points Samhita made about Andy not preparing for her interview is the least relatable thing to us as journalists. Why would you not prepare for an interview where you’re trying to prove you want to be a serious journalist?

Susie Banikarim (23:21):

Yeah, it’s so weird to me. You would at least just do some research. And also, it’s hard to believe that any woman in America who wanted to work in media would just not know who the editor of the biggest fashion magazine in the world was. That is still a big job in media.

Jessica Bennett (23:35):

Any person in America.

Susie Banikarim (23:37):

Yeah, it feels true. But the idea that Anna is actually a much more complex character than the cultural characterization of her isn’t surprising, right?

Jessica Bennett (23:45):

Or the cultural caricature of her in a way.

Susie Banikarim (23:48):

And that’s something that I feel like you discuss a lot in your work.

Jessica Bennett (23:51):

Yeah, I mean, I feel like that’s something we keep coming up against in this podcast, which is there’s often more complexity to the characters we are looking at, and especially with women.

Susie Banikarim (24:00):

Yeah, and I think we’ve seen that a lot with people like Robin Givens whose identities are so flattened by these characterizations of them, or Britney Spears who had her complexity denied and was just dismissed as crazy. And in general, I think that’s what’s really smart about this movie, going back to Devil Wears Prada, which is that it takes something that is also dismissed as frivolous and for women fashion, fashion magazines, and it explores the ways in which they’re actually serious and worthy of examination.

Jessica Bennett (24:31):

Yeah. Isn’t there a famous scene where Miranda Priestly sort of schools Andy in how she got her sweater or something like that?

Susie Banikarim (24:37):

Yes. The speech you’re thinking of is the Cerulean Speech, which is a color blue. They’re in a meeting and someone has presented Miranda with two belts and Andy has snickered and said, “those two belts look exactly the same to me.” And she’s sort of expecting everyone to be like, ha ha, yes. But Miranda is really icy in her retort.

Clips (24:56):

You select, I don’t know, that lumpy blue sweater for instance, because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not lapis, it’s actually cerulean.

Susie Banikarim (25:13):

And it was introduced on this runway and that runway, until you fished it out of some bargain basement. It’s like a very funny moment. And that speech has become pretty famous because it does, in a really succinct way, explain why fashion does have meaning in people’s lives, why our lives are all impacted by the way fashion works.

Jessica Bennett (25:33):

Right, and so she’s basically saying, you think you chose that sweater, but actually let me tell you that sweater chose you.

Susie Banikarim (25:39):

Yeah, exactly.

Jessica Bennett (25:47):

Susie, I want to go back for a moment to the Miranda character in the book because the book is actually pretty vitriolic.

Susie Banikarim (25:54):

I mean, I reread the book last night actually, and it is so vitriolic kind of in a shocking way to me now looking back. At points, book-Andy calls book-Miranda a bitch. She talks about how much she hates her. I mean, my takeaway from the book is that the author hated working for Anna Wintour.

Jessica Bennett (26:15):

Okay. Not a lot of complexity. It’s like that’s what it is.

Susie Banikarim (26:18):

Yeah, it’s a pretty one-dimensional character and she’s just awful. And interestingly, the limo scene is not in the book at all. The ending plays out completely differently. So in the book, the way their relationship ends is that Andy says to Miranda, fuck you, Miranda, fuck you.

Jessica Bennett (26:39):


Susie Banikarim (26:40):

She’s fired obviously for swearing at her boss, and the whole thing in the movie about how Miranda writes her a good reference and there’s kind of this redemption moment from Miranda, that doesn’t happen in the book at all.

Jessica Bennett (26:54):

So this is a revenge book.

Susie Banikarim (26:55):


Jessica Bennett (26:56):

Essentially, she’s trashed.

Susie Banikarim (26:58):

It’s like a revenge fantasy. I don’t think this happened in real life. I see. So I think this is the book she’s written about what she wishes she had done when she left Vogue. I mean, that’s what it feels like as a reader for sure.

Jessica Bennett (27:11):

So do people like this book? Is the book bad? What’s the response?

Susie Banikarim (27:15):

I mean, the book is controversial. Much more so than the film, because it is really a takedown, and I guess at this time it was seen as sort of bad manners to gossip about your former boss in this way, which feels kind of quaint now in the post-Gawker era.

Jessica Bennett (27:31):

That’s like what literally everyone does.

Susie Banikarim (27:33):

But the New York Times actually had two negative reviews of this book, and the first one was written by famed critic Janet Maslin, where she refers to it as a “mean-spirited gotcha of a book.” And the other one is called “Anna Dearest,” and it has this line that is so interesting because I think in a lot of ways it encapsulates kind of what we’re talking about in a larger sense here. “She had a ringside seat at one of the great editorial franchises, but she seems to have understood almost nothing about the isolation and pressure of the job her boss was doing, or what it might cost a person like Miranda Priestly to become a character like Miranda Priestly.”

Jessica Bennett (28:11):

I bet that was written by a woman.

Susie Banikarim (28:12):

Yes, it was written by a woman. And I think it is the truth that these jobs do come with isolation and pressure. It is a reality that it’s not quite so simple. And so the movie really makes an effort to humanize Miranda in a lot of ways.

Jessica Bennett (28:30):

Right. Movie-Miranda is more complicated.

Susie Banikarim (28:33):

The director has actually said that early versions of the script even felt too vengeful. And I suspect what he is leaving kind of unsaid in that is that’s because the book was vengeful. It was this really mean-spirited book. So when it comes time to make the movie, the movie is being made by people who probably have had these senior positions. There are two scenes that give you a real window into Miranda’s personal life and what her career has cost her on that front in the movie. At one point, Miranda is having an argument with her husband, and Andy walks in and the argument is about how she’s missed a lunch with him.


And he says, “I could tell everyone was looking at me and thinking, there he is waiting for her again.” Which feels like a thing a lot of women go through when they’re more successful than their partner. And then later in Paris, there’s this very vulnerable scene where she tells Andy she’s getting a divorce. Miranda’s without her usual armor. She has no makeup on, and she’s in a robe. And she talks about knowing what they will write about her, dragon lady, career obsessed, snow queen drives away another Mr. Priestly. And she tears up as she laments what it will do to her daughters.

Jessica Bennett (29:44):

Actually, I had forgotten until you were mentioning the Harry Potter part of the movie that she even had daughters. That too is an interesting thing because you expect a woman of the stature or a woman who behaves like this to be this cutthroat careerist who doesn’t have a family.

Susie Banikarim (30:00):

Right, and what’s kind of interesting in this moment in the movie is that when Andy expresses sympathy for her and says, “is there anything else I can do?” Miranda kind of snaps back into being herself for lack of a better way of putting it. And she just says, “yes, your job.” And that is kind of the encapsulation, right? She’s had this moment of vulnerability, but then she has to keep going. What choice does she have? She is the editor of Runway at Paris Fashion Week. She can’t fall apart. And EW did an oral history of the film and the director said something that I thought was really interesting. He said that in his vision, Miranda is the heroine of the piece, not the villain, because it’s a coming of age story for Andy to learn about what it takes to be great at something. Isn’t that so interesting?

Jessica Bennett (30:49):

Oh, that’s interesting. Yes. So it’s really about how she, Miranda, was ultimately successful, not just a terrible bitch.

Susie Banikarim (30:58):

It’s really a movie about what it costs to be Miranda and teaching Andy that she may not think it’s okay, but eventually she’s going to have to make some of these hard choices too. And that is really why the limo moment is so critical to the film and why I chose it. It’s fundamentally a film about what it costs to have this kind of life, this kind of career, the isolation, the pressure. And that’s something I think Meryl Streep really conveys in this portrayal and why in a lot of ways, Andy feels hopelessly naive to me. Even when I saw this the first time, it seemed to me like Andy had a lot of growing up to do.

Jessica Bennett (31:51):

So Susie, we obviously both related to this movie, I think, when we first saw it in a different way than we might now. Back then we were aspiring journalists or young journalists, and now we are more the established journalists. So I was curious for you, I mean, you have run really big newsrooms. You’ve been a boss in a lot of these jobs. What do you think the costs of that success have been for you, if any?

Susie Banikarim (32:18):

I think for me, the costs are really personal in terms of just how I operate in the world. It takes a lot out of you just physically to do these jobs. You have to be willing to work just an enormous amount of hours and you have to be emotionally available to a very large group of people because you’re managing a big team and all of those things take a toll on you. I think there are people that can do these jobs that don’t have that experience, that learn to have a set of clear walls where they’re not taking in a lot of the energy around them. Or frankly, I think we know because there have been studies that a lot of leaders are actually sociopaths or psychopaths, I think, is what the studies say.

Jessica Bennett (33:10):

It says leaders are sociopaths?

Susie Banikarim (33:12):

Yeah. There’s one study I remember reading that claimed that as many as one in five business leaders have some psychopathic tendencies, so that’s 20%.

Jessica Bennett (33:20):

I don’t know why I’m so surprised by that.

Susie Banikarim (33:23):

So I think if you are able to have that kind of separation from you and the people whose lives you to some degree hold in your hands when you’re managing a large team, I think it can be a lot easier. But for me personally, that has been a real struggle and I think it kind of has reoriented me in terms of how I think about ambition and whether or not I want to have these big jobs, whether or not I think these big jobs make sense anymore.

Jessica Bennett (33:56):

Yeah, I mean I think that the headline here is that we hold women leaders to higher standards. I guess Miranda Priestly, I don’t know that she was in a position you were speaking of where she really cared about the emotional wellbeing of her entire staff. It was more like she was in charge and she had these assistants. But we expect women leaders to be nice, and we don’t expect male leaders to be nice. So was Miranda Priestly kind of a bitch sometimes? Yeah, but if she was a man, would we call her a bitch or would we just call her demanding.

Susie Banikarim (34:27):


Jessica Bennett (34:28):

And so she clearly put Andy or her assistants or whatever in precarious situations, but that’s happened a million times before. And so I think that what we know is that there’s this likeability trade-off for women. The more power they gain, the less we like them, statistically proven time and time again. And it applies to business or it applies to politics. And so women are always having to adjust their demeanor to try to make up for this. And I think what Miranda Priestly represents is someone who wasn’t willing to adjust her demeanor, and thus she was kind of like a frigid ice-cold ice queen bitch. But is that fair? It’s a little more complicated than that.

Susie Banikarim (35:11):

Yeah, and I do think this is something when you’re a woman in a leadership position, you’re constantly trying to thread the needle on, because on the one hand, you need to be somewhat decisive and you need to be someone who moves things through. You can’t just be spending all your time being emotionally accessible or whatever. But on the other hand, I think my entire career, I have been given the note that I need to soften myself. I need to be less blunt. I need to work a little less quickly and assume that people aren’t always following. Those are notes I’ve gotten repeatedly in my career. And I think I really struggle with that still because I am not naturally a very soft, sweet person. It’s like I am pretty blunt and straightforward, and I sort of think that’s one of my strengths.

Jessica Bennett (36:10):

Well, that’s kind of what you need to be a leader, in fact.

Susie Banikarim (36:13):

But as I’ve gotten older, I can see when it has an impact on someone, and I try and dial it down because I recognize that not everyone can deal with that.

Jessica Bennett (36:22):

Well, and that’s part of the pressure, right? You’re in charge of all these people and to some degree their wellbeing, but you have to discipline. There is hard stuff. Sometimes you have to do layoffs. Thankfully, I have never had to do that, but I can imagine that’s hard no matter who you are.

Susie Banikarim (36:38):

Oh God, I can’t believe you’ve never had to do a layoff that is really lucky in this media environment. But just even aside from those pressures, it’s just hard to show up as your best self every single day. Sometimes you just don’t. Or you make mistakes and the stakes feel higher because you’re the boss and everyone’s paying attention.

Jessica Bennett (36:57):

A bad day can have more extreme consequences.

Susie Banikarim (36:59):

Yeah, I mean, everyone I know in the leadership position struggles with that at times. And actually we have a friend who runs a newsroom who said to me recently, it’s not fun to be in charge anymore. And that makes sense to me. People are just so self-conscious all the time. They’re so worried they’re going to do something that’s going to get them canceled in some way.

Jessica Bennett (37:18):

Which I guess is good on the one hand that we’re all more conscious of creating the kind of workplaces we want to be in. But it’s also complicated.

Susie Banikarim (37:27):

I think part of the reason I have sometimes felt like I’m groping around in the dark trying to figure out how to be a good leader, is that there just weren’t a lot of great examples of leadership. Most of the leadership I saw was Miranda Priestly-type leadership from men and women. So it’s not like there were all these models for me that I could be like, okay, here’s who I’m trying to be. I was sort of trying to figure it out on my own. I’m still trying to figure it out to some degree.

Jessica Bennett (37:56):

And there’s still not great models, to be honest. I mean, I think that’s why we’ve seen a lot of women leaders who rise up really quickly and then immediately get shot down.

Susie Banikarim (38:08):

And that actually leads me to something I want to talk about, which is the whole “Girl Boss” thing from a few years ago. I’ve always joked that all these toxic Girl Bosses were just women who saw The Devil Wears Prada. And instead of seeing it as a cautionary tale, they saw it as a path to success. They agreed with Miranda Priestly that everybody wanted this life, that for better or for worse, she is a depiction of unapologetic female power. And we don’t see that a lot. So they emulated it.

Jessica Bennett (38:38):

Wait, should we define the Girl Boss? So this was a term that was popularized in 2014 when Sophia Amoruso, who had founded a wildly successful company called Nasty Gal, wrote a book called Girl Boss. And Girl Boss was framed as the reaction to Lean In, which was Sheryl Sandberg’s blockbuster book.

Clips (38:59):

Big debate being sparked by Sheryl Sandberg.


Her brand new book is generating a kind of feminist firestorm.


She calls it leaning in, gunning for the corner office, not the cubicle.

Jessica Bennett (39:11):

And so if Lean In was saying, go strive, rise up the corporate ladder, Girl Boss was saying, no, actually you can be scrappy. You don’t have to come from money. You can do it your way. And over time, there was this generation of leaders who rose really quickly and were very media savvy. They were all very attractive. They started populating the cover of every magazine, and they were sort of heralded as this new generation of women leaders, but a lot of their businesses failed. A lot of them were criticized for various things. And so ultimately that term now is more of a pejorative. It’s used on TikTok to criticize people who are seen as too ambitious. There’s that phrase, “don’t Girl Boss too close to the sun.” They had too much unbridled ambition and it came to bite them in the ass.

Susie Banikarim (40:02):

Right? Also, that meme Gaslight Girl Boss Gatekeep, right? It’s basically talking about how the Girl Bosses were actually also positions of privilege, and they sort of gate-kept other people out of the arena. But I feel like part of what the issue is there isn’t really a clear definition of what a Girl Boss is.

Jessica Bennett (40:22):

I mean, it’s a fake word. It’s a made up word that was created as a joke and then became a real thing. I’m like, why are we calling women Girl Bosses anyway? They should just be bosses. So I sort of am like, you can’t define… It came to represent a striver.

Susie Banikarim (40:38):

Like a very earnest striver who embraced a certain kind of corporate feminism.

Jessica Bennett (40:42):


Susie Banikarim (40:43):

And equality in this world was just getting to be the boss. You were an unapologetically ambitious woman like Miranda, but with a feminine twist. So if you’re a Girl Boss, you’re less threatening in a way. You’re certainly not the crazed, desperate career woman of the eighties we talked about in the Newsweek marriage episode, you’re not Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, you’re like a fashionable and millennial pink feminist.

Jessica Bennett (41:07):

Well, and in some ways the media and society has enforced that by adding “girl” in front of your title.

Susie Banikarim (41:20):

But ultimately, the Girl Boss, as you said, was pretty limited. And Amanda Mull wrote a great piece in the Atlantic where she talked about why that was. So there was some idea that there was equality just based on advancement. It kind of ties capitalism up with female equality, which I think feels inherently flawed. And then she said something that I thought was really smart. She said, “the Girl Boss argued that the professional success of ambitious young women was a two-birds-one-stone type of activism. Their pursuit of power could be rebranded as a righteous quest for equality and the success of female executives and entrepreneurs would lift up the women below them.” But that’s not really what we saw. In fact, even the person who popularized the term Girl Boss, this woman Sophia Amoruso, she eventually resigned. The company went into bankruptcy a couple years after that book came out, and there were a number of complaints about discrimination and toxic management accompanied by lawsuits from her employees.

Jessica Bennett (42:24):

I mean, I think it’s slightly more complex. A lot of these stories and downfalls were flattened a bit in the media narrative. I’m actually profiling Sophia now for a piece for Elle. And so it’s been interesting to actually dig into what really happened versus how the media, though I hate saying “the media”…

Susie Banikarim (42:44):

Us, we are the media.

Jessica Bennett (42:45):

… yes, portrayed it, but certainly it represented something.

Susie Banikarim (42:49):

Right, and I think she wasn’t the only one. In fairness to her, there were a slew of other examples of female leaders who were lauded as Girl Bosses or who leaned into that branding, but eventually came under scrutiny and were forced to step away from the companies they founded. Just like off the top of my head, there’s the CEO of Glossier, the luggage brand Away, to that woman who ran Thinx underwear.

Jessica Bennett (43:11):

I think there was a shift at a certain point in what was perceived as acceptable boss behavior, particularly for these companies and these founders who had branded themselves as socially conscious, if not overtly feminist.

Susie Banikarim (43:25):

And I think also what you’re saying is that these power structures were built by men. So if these women were replicating these power structures, it wasn’t like they were doing something unique. It’s just the case that if you’re a woman, you’re more likely to face an immediate backlash. Look at Elon Musk. I mean, he has had a million of these kinds of complaints around him.

Jessica Bennett (43:47):

Right, or Adam Newman of WeWork or Travis Kalanick of Uber.

Susie Banikarim (43:52):

And all three of those men are fine. And actually, Samhita Mukhopadhyay who we spoke to earlier, and as I mentioned is writing a book about women, work and ambition also talks about the hypocrisy she sees in the Girl Boss downfall.

Samhita Mukhopadhyay (44:09):

I’m always cautious when we too eagerly tear women down. I’m not going to All Women’s Matter this or something. Obviously women are capable of the same heinous atrocities and labor oversights as men. But I do think that when we go after women for a specific behavior that is considered completely normal in men, my eyebrows raise a little bit. I’m like, yes, no leader should be toxic. We should absolutely be creating environments that are equitable. We should not expect people to work and sacrifice everything.


None of those things are sustainable. They are not things that we should support in workplaces, but also they are a result of under-resourced environments. Often women-led companies don’t get as much money as male-led companies. Definitely true for startups in a ridiculous way. And then you add to that these kind of toxic dynamics or leaders that don’t have enough experience to successfully lead in those kinds of environments. Or a lot of times, people that would fit into this Girl Boss mold, the very characteristics that make them good for those roles are literally what make them bad as leaders.

Susie Banikarim (45:15):

Yes, can confirm.

Samhita Mukhopadhyay (45:16):

So being judiciously committed to your vision, being really good on stage, being really good in the press, it’s like those people are monsters behind the scenes. But putting that to the side, the majority of women that are starting businesses aren’t these kind of “Girl Bosses.” They’re young women that are trying to find their voice and their name. Or a lot of times women become entrepreneurs because they hit the glass ceiling at work and they were not getting the recognition that they deserved, and so they decided to go out on their own. And so it is worrisome when you focus a lot on a small number of people when there’s this kind of broader ecosystem of women trying to create things on their own terms.

Susie Banikarim (46:10):

Samhita has written about how while the Girl Boss concept is flawed, it did provide a model for women who don’t always see a path to leadership, like women of color. And people like Samhita and I are often excluded from those kinds of spaces. So there are some things about this that weren’t all bad, but any model of female leadership generally does eventually face a backlash. I mean, we’ve just seen that in this country, any kind of female advancement eventually faces a backlash.

Jessica Bennett (46:40):

And in fact, I think we’re seeing that more now after these, so-called Girl Bosses toppled, a lot of the investment to female founded companies actually went down.

Susie Banikarim (46:51):

By the way, investment to female companies was always really low. And that’s also partially what was kind of interesting about this being a media-created story. Women receive, I think, less than 2% of VC funding. So there were never a huge number of Girl Bosses to start with. So the disproportionate attention they got in the beginning and then in the backlash is also indicative of something, which is, we love a story about a woman rising and then falling. That’s just a thing we love in this country.


Also, it’s probably worth noting that in terms of the backlash, the Miranda Priestlys or in the real world, the Anna Wintours of the world didn’t emerge completely unscathed, but interestingly, not really about their years of boundary lists or potentially inappropriate leadership styles. I think when Black Lives Matter happened, there was a lot more focus on the ways in which fashion and fashion magazines really reinforced a certain kind of whiteness. And Anna did have to apologize for that in June of 2020, after facing a lot of criticism.

Jessica Bennett (48:07):

Oh, that’s right.

Susie Banikarim (48:08):

She issued an apology for not doing enough to address diversity issues at Vogue. And she said, “I want to say plainly that I know Vogue has not found ways to elevate and give space to Black editors, writers, photographers, designers, and other creators. We have made mistakes, too, publishing images or stories that have been hurtful or intolerant. I take full responsibility for those mistakes.”

Jessica Bennett (48:29):

I mean, pretty big a deal that she apologized. She’s not the type to stand down or apologize, I don’t think.

Susie Banikarim (48:37):

Yeah, I don’t think so either. But I think this was obviously a more serious allegation in some ways.

Jessica Bennett (48:42):

Yeah. Well, and then also interesting that she was able to keep her job after that.

Susie Banikarim (48:46):

She kept her job after that apology, unlike the Girl Bosses who kind of toppled and then maybe found their way back in some smaller way, she has stayed on top of the Conde Nast editorial operation. And obviously I don’t want to conflate white supremacy and bias with slightly toxic or even very toxic behavior. This is obviously a deeper issue, but it shows that she had sort of gone from being immune to this kind of criticism. At the point in which The Devil Wears Prada is made, it didn’t lead to some kind of backlash towards her like, oh, I can’t believe you treat people this way. It was considered kind of charming or funny or whatever. And now she’s sort of gotten to the point where she’s not given a pass completely in that way.


And actually that same year in 2022, a few months later, the New York Times published a really lengthy piece asking if her diversity push had come too late. And former employees said that Anna had fostered a workplace that sidelined women of color, and she had helped set a standard that favored white, Eurocentric notions of beauty, which isn’t a surprise. That’s something you also see in the movie, right? There’s a real central focus in the movie about a very classic beauty standard. There’s a lot of focus on thinness. In the movie, there’s this famous line where Emily, the first assistant says, “I’m just one stomach flu away from my goal weight,” which is a thing me and my friends always jokingly say to each other.

Jessica Bennett (50:12):

I mean, people, yeah, everyone says that.

Susie Banikarim (50:13):

Everyone says that, right?

Jessica Bennett (50:14):

Or said. Maybe Gen Z doesn’t say right now.

Susie Banikarim (50:15):

Because maybe they have more sense than we did? And it wasn’t just Anna who set these standards, but as arguably the most powerful person in fashion, she did play a large role in this kind of centering.

Jessica Bennett (50:29):

The other thing too is that in particular for women of color, but really for any marginalized group, is that you’re often forced to represent your entire demographic.

Susie Banikarim (50:39):

So if you’re a gay leader, there’s also this expectation. If you’re a trans leader, it’s like you are doing more than just your job. You’re representing an entire category of people, and your success or failure carries that weight. And I do think to some degree, that gets back to this idea or this thing I was saying at the top, which is it does feel like you’re carrying a lot of weight in these jobs. You’re not immune to the understanding that you’re not just representing yourself. When I was given the opportunity to run newsrooms, I was almost always the only woman of color, or the first woman of color to have that opportunity in that role. So I was clear that I wasn’t just doing a job, but I was also representing a kind of progress. And if I did it badly or if I embarrassed myself, I was letting down much more than just my own mental health, you know what I mean?

Jessica Bennett (51:37):

More than just yourself or your employees, you’re letting down everyone who strived to be in a role like that and who maybe had not gotten the opportunity.

Susie Banikarim (51:44):

Well, and also the other thing I think is that you recognize that you are the representation for a lot of people. I recognize that in those roles, there were women in the newsroom who saw me in that role and were like, oh, I can do that too. So if I did it poorly or I was not a good example, that I was not setting a good example for them. I was not giving them a path. Because they were like, well, I don’t want to be that bitch.

Jessica Bennett (52:11):

Which is terrifying in a lot of ways.

Susie Banikarim (52:14):

Yeah, it does really weigh on you. I do think it does take a real toll. I’m someone who struggles with a lot of anxiety. I have in my life had very serious depression, and it is the case that when I am in these jobs, it triggers a lot of those issues for me. And the reason I often leave these jobs is because I’ve gotten to a point where I no longer feel like I can balance, and I need to sort of step away to re-center myself. And I think that is a good segue into kind of where we are now in terms of how we’re thinking about work as women and where women’s ambition is. Where does all of this leave us? If we’re not going to be the Miranda Priestlys, we’re not going to be the Sheryl Sandbergs, we’re not going to be the Girl Bosses, like what’s left now?

Jessica Bennett (53:02):

Lazy girls. Lazy girl jobs.

Susie Banikarim (53:02):

Lazy girls. Job quitting, great resignation. It’s like I feel like it’s kind of the end of ambition in my mind. I think, do we want to have it all? I don’t want to have it all anymore. I just want to have enough.

Jessica Bennett (53:15):

So as you know, I am very skeptical of all of these little phrases that enter into the same case.

Susie Banikarim (53:22):

And validly so, validly so.

Jessica Bennett (53:24):

No, it’s not the end of ambition. And also when we talk about ambition, are we really just talking about women’s ambition? Nobody asks, is it the end of ambition for men?

Susie Banikarim (53:31):

Yes, that’s true.

Jessica Bennett (53:32):

And yet, these trends, these memes, this kind of linguistic popularity of terms like, yeah, lazy girl jobs or quiet quitting or I don’t dream of labor. Everything that you see on TikTok these days, which is essentially anti-work rhetoric, is largely being pushed by people of all genders. So I don’t know. I think that gender bias even creeps into the way that sometimes I talk about this issue, but I also think that there’s a little bit of delightful, in a way, idealism when it comes to young people, but also naivety about the fact that, all right, kids, you got to work. Yeah, I want to be a lazy girl too. I’d love to bed rot all day. That would be awesome. I don’t want to have a job.

Susie Banikarim (54:26):

I know I’d be great at goblin mode all day, every day.

Jessica Bennett (54:29):

Let’s just self-care all day. Yeah. What other terms can we insert here? But you still need money to live, and I know that sure, we’d want to reject capitalism, blah, blah, blah, but we are still living in a capitalist society, and so I take some of this anti-work rhetoric with a grain of salt, though I do believe that hopefully by questioning things like this Girl Boss culture or hustle culture, or the way that we have devoted our entire beings and entities to work over the past 10, 20 years is a good thing.

Susie Banikarim (55:02):

Yeah. I want to throw to Samhita one more time because she had something interesting to say about this too.

Samhita Mukhopadhyay (55:07):

Workplace hierarchy isn’t really going anywhere anytime soon. We have to figure out how management structures that are equitable, that work, that play to people’s strengths, that support them in being as innovative and creative and impactful as possible. That’s why I think we’re frozen in time right now because we know that we don’t want this kind of unfettered ambition at any cost, toxic workplace, all bad words. We know we don’t want that, but we don’t know how to apply that in our lives yet.


I think that’s led to this trend in quiet quitting or lazy girl jobs or people really calling it in at work, which ultimately isn’t going to actually make people happy. What actually makes you happy in your life is living a life of integrity and authenticity and joy. When you’re checked out of something, you’re not finding joy in your life, and that’s fine. I think we all go through phases we have to do that, but that’s not a model for women’s advancement in the workplace, right? It’s a problem and it’s a wake-up call for working conditions. But it’s not ultimately a strategy that’s going to be successful or make us happy if that’s ultimately the goal.

Jessica Bennett (56:11):

I think Samhita is right, and this isn’t the end of ambition generally, but it’s hopefully a workplace shift that is happening. Susie, where does that then leave you?

Susie Banikarim (56:22):

I mean, I guess what I’m doing is projecting, to some degree. Because maybe it’s just the end of my ambition. Maybe the reason those memes speak to me is that I have come to kind of want a quieter career. One where I have less responsibilities, one where I get to chat with you.

Jessica Bennett (56:41):

But I will just say that’s not unambitious, that’s a different kind of ambition. And so I think part of the problem is that we have come to define ambition in these really rigid ways that involved climbing up the corporate ladder, being a boss, having a big team, being in management. And there are so many different ways to be ambitious. And so I guess that’s what kind of gives me hope to what you’re saying.

Susie Banikarim (57:05):

Oh, yeah, that’s actually a really good point. I’ve never thought about it that way. It’s true that I’m not lacking in any ambition. It’s just my ambitions have really changed. I’m not trying to get the bigger job. I’m not always trying to get the bigger paycheck. I’m just trying to do work I love and work that feels creative and work that I hope is kind of meaningful or is certainly at least meaningful to me, even if it’s not that for everyone else. So that’s actually a nice way to think about where that leaves us and maybe we leave it there.

Jessica Bennett (57:39):

Susie, I want to tease our next episode. We’re going to be talking about what it means for a woman to be “past her prime.”

Susie Banikarim (57:46):

Which I don’t think happens, for the record, but we are going to talk about aging and what that means for us, but also just how women are treated as they age in the culture. So I think it’s going to be a really interesting one. This is in Retrospect. Thanks for listening. Is there a pop culture moment you can’t stop thinking about and want us to explore in a future episode? Email us at [email protected] or find us on Instagram at @Inretropod.

Jessica Bennett (58:17):

If you love this podcast, please rate and review us on Apple or Spotify or wherever you listen. If you hate it, you can post nasty comments on our Instagram, which we may or may not delete.

Susie Banikarim (58:27):

You can also find us on Instagram @JessicaBennett and @SusieBNYC. Also, check out Jessica’s books, Feminist Fight Club, and This Is 18.

Jessica Bennett (58:36):

In Retrospect is a production of iHeartPodcasts and The Meteor. Lauren Hansen is our supervising producer. Derrick Clements is our engineer and sound designer. Emily Marinoff is our producer. Sharon Attia is our researcher and associate producer.

Susie Banikarim (58:50):

Our executive producer from The Meteor is Cindi Leive. Our executive producers from iHeart are Anna Stumpf and Katrina Norvell. Our artwork is from Pentagram. Our mixing engineer is Amanda Rose Smith. Additional editing help from Mary Dooe. We are your hosts, Susie Banikarim…

Jessica Bennett (59:08):

And Jessica Bennett. We’re also executive producers. For even more, check out Inretropod.com. See you next week.