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As Teen Vogue’s guest editor, Hillary Clinton wrote a moving letter to her teenage self

Then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at a campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S. November 8, 2016. Picture taken November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder - RC183F8DC800
Reuters/Brian Snyder
A long way from Wellesley College.
  • Marc Bain
By Marc Bain

Fashion reporter

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Teen Vogue has announced that Hillary Clinton will guest-edit its upcoming issue, due out on December 5.

In it, Clinton addresses Teen Vogue’s predominantly young, female audience, which has shown just as much interest in politics and social justice as beauty tips. ”Have you ever noticed that whenever a teenage girl takes a stand on an important issue, people seem surprised?” she writes in an editor’s letter already published online. “Teen Vogue takes teen girls seriously and understands that style and substance aren’t mutually exclusive.”

Clinton also penned a powerful letter to her teenage self. It finds her just having finished her first semester at Wellesley College, long before her name was Clinton, and before she had served the United States as first lady, senator, secretary of state, and its first-ever female presidential candidate for a major party.

The letter describes the anxieties and challenges she faced on campus, and lets Clinton share what she learned from those days. “Take risks, and don’t be afraid to get caught trying,” she writes. “Do your best to embrace the excitement that comes with not knowing what’s next, and remember that confidence and an open mind will always serve you better than insecurity and doubt.”

She also offers her younger self some more everyday advice: Always write thank-you notes, keep reading, take criticism seriously but not personally.

Along the way, she drops in a few reminiscences about people she will come across in her life, such as a “tall, handsome boyfriend” who asks her to move to Arkansas, referring to her future husband, Bill Clinton. She adds, “Oh, and when president-elect Barack Obama says he wants to talk to you about a job opportunity in his cabinet, hear him out. Serving your community, your state, and your country will be the greatest privilege of your life.”

In neither letter does Clinton spend time on the losses she’s suffered. Instead, the message that comes across most strongly is that young women today are empowered to do anything they choose, even if there’s still more work to do and challenges to be overcome.

She calls teen girls a “powerful force for good in the world” in her editor’s letter, describing how they have turned out at marches to speak up for their rights, advanced in sports and STEM, rallied to draw attention to important causes such as child sex trafficking in Cambodia or the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

In her letter to her teen self, she frames herself as a beneficiary of this changing world:

You’re at a college that was founded on the belief that women can do anything. And while I know sometimes it seems like we have an awfully long way to go, progress will come. It won’t happen as quickly as you hope, but in your lifetime, you will see the world change for women in ways you wouldn’t believe. You will have a daughter, and she will have a daughter, and they both will be born into an America more fair and equal than the one you know in 1965.

Her message culminates on a stage in Philadelphia in July 2016, accepting the Democratic party’s nomination for president. Her last bit of advice: “Believe in yourself. You’re going to do great.”

It’s directed at her teen self, but also at Teen Vogue’s legions of young readers.

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