• UO Pride: Sam Escobar

    To celebrate Pride this month, we’re sharing the stories of young creatives showing their pride and proving that love is love. We’ve partnered with GLSEN to introduce an exclusive collection of graphic tees and hats, with all profits donated to GLSEN in support of LGBTQ youth. Read more about #UOPride here

    We chat to Sam Escobar, deputy editor at Allure, about why they’re proud to be who they are and what they think others should remind themselves of every day.
    Photos by Anna Ottum

    Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do! 
    First things first: I’m 27, I’m the Digital Deputy Editor of Allure, and I really like memes. (I wanted to include something that guides my daily quite as much as my age and job, and my meme obsession was the only thing that fit.) I have two cats, Dorito and Rorschach, with whom I live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I’m queer, Latinx, and nonbinary, and sometimes I perform poetry shows here in Brooklyn.

    How did you first get started at Allure? Is at as much of a dream job as we imagine it to be?
    Here’s the rundown: In early 2013, I was living in Portland, OR, freelancing seven days a week, writing eight to 12 articles each day for $17 a pop (yikes). When a site I wrote for offered me an associate editor position, I immediately accepted and moved to New York. Over the next four years, I worked at Good Housekeeping as its beauty editor and Bustle as senior commerce editor — all wonderful jobs that taught me so much. 

    Still, I never thought I’d find my “perfect” position that combined my obsession with beauty, fondness for management, and goal for producing media that enacts positive change. Of course, work is work and when it comes down to it, I work to support myself financially, so I wasn’t too concerned with the whole “perfect job” thing. (Plus, I’ve always been somewhat afraid that I’m secretly unqualified for…well, everything, and am therefore fortunate that anyone likes my work. Imposter syndrome and all that, you know the deal.)

    Then, this past March, Phill Picardi brought me on his deputy editor at Allure and I realized very quickly that this was the job I had always hoped for. Our goal is to create inclusive, expert-informed, and creative coverage that spans beauty and style to wellness and sexuality. I’m fortunate to have an amazing team of people who are all experts at what they do. Oh, and the beauty closet is really, really awesome. I can’t lie about that. 

    What about big moments at your job – can you tell us something you wrote or participated in that made you feel proud recently?
    In order to launch her vertical, our new Wellness Editor Hayley MacMillen planned this incredible, ethereal shoot. I helped with casting and planning, and it was truly one of the best-received pieces of content I’ve ever participated in. I literally had multiple people stop me on the subway and street just tell compliment our work at Allure, and specifically on this photo shoot that addressed the stigmas and pressures women of different backgrounds so frequently face with regard to their pubic hair.

    Additionally, I’ve had a few people, both staffers and freelancers, tell me I enabled them to tell their stories. Whether the writer is working on a reported piece or a personal essay or a profile, there is nothing more rewarding as an editor than being told I have helped someone create work that they are proud of.  

    What big ideas have been most important to you lately?
    Consistency, for one thing. As is the case with everyone, I have been thinking quite a bit about the state of the world and how to improve it, and how I can make my efforts more effective than they have been in the past. Yes, being a consistently good friend and employee or taking care of your taxes or being good about cleaning your cats’ litter box more often than you actually do (what, just me?) — all that is very important. But to me, being consistently active in improving the world involves more than making sure that I am giving to organizations that are truly enacting change, whether it’s my time or my money, whether the group is political- or community-focused, whether I am volunteering my skills or standing in solidarity at a protest. No matter what, consistency is so significant, and it is something I wish I had been better about in the past.

    Another huge thing: the value of hobbies and interests outside of those efforts. It’s hard to escape the news cycle — and for many people, it’s impossible because they are surrounded by the reality of it always. But if you have something you love that truly makes you feel happy and comforted when you do it, then by all means, you should go ahead and do it (provided it doesn’t hurt anyone, obviously). Humans deserve pure, unrelenting joy when they can find it.

    There’s this cynical inclination some folks possess right now to dismiss anything that isn’t directly related to politics. Obviously, policy and the political climate are incredibly important right now and always, but that doesn’t mean dismissing pop culture and other interests. If you had a long day and you want watch a baseball game and yell at the TV without someone mocking you for liking “sports ball,” go for it. If you find it relaxing to braid your best friend’s hair while listening to a Spotify playlist full of nostalgic high school songs, you deserve to. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating niceties, however frivolous they may seem to others. 

    Not too long ago, I took the train uptown after work to visit someone I cared about at the hospital. As I made my way back to Brooklyn, I lost my ability to keep it together. My eyes began leaking, then streaming. When I arrived home, my cats promptly cuddled next to me until my sobs subsided. I then did what I always do when I’ve been crying: washed my face and moisturized, then carefully did my makeup routine. It’s a ritual I have always found comforting. It’s so nice to have a step-by-step process — a little personal production where I know and love all the characters (er, products). Some see beauty as silly, but it can almost be healing at times.

    Why are you proud to be who you are ?
    I am proud of my ability to admit I'm wrong or mistaken and grow from it. I'm not so much a perfectionist as I believe that it's deeply important to always keep growing whenever I have the opportunity to. For instance, I used to be one of those awful "girls don't like me, I only have guy friends" people when in reality, I was just highly insecure in college. I apologized to the women I was rude to and, lo and behold, I have best friends of many genders now. And for that matter, I have truly remarkable best friends whose love and respect I treasure, which honestly makes me feel like the king of the world.

    I host an eating disorder support group in my home each weekend. There are seven of us, mostly queer women, and we were all friends or friendly e-acquaintances before the group formed. After the election, we were brokenhearted. Instead of our regular group session, we decided to go around in a circle and for each person, all the others would say what they loved about them. (As you can imagine, it involved a tremendous amount of crying and sniffling and laughing.) I was honored as hell to hear that the thing people liked about me most was my ability to bring people together, so that makes me proud to be who I am.

    Say something to empower others to be who they are
    You deserve compassion, respect, and kindness. You don’t need to prove your humanity or identity to anyone. And it is never too late to change for the better.

    Why is it important to love yourself ?
    I have found that the kinder I am to myself, the more productive I am, so I make decisions whenever possible — i.e. time, money, and energy permitting — to be good towards myself.

    If I’m feeling anxious, I talk to my group text about it and strategize what I can do about it. If I’m having an especially hard time with food, I talk to my psychiatrist. (As an aside: the stigma surrounding mental health is awful, so if you’re having a hard time with anything related to it, you have nothing to be ashamed of.) If I’m feeling grumpy at home, I either clean to make my surroundings better or, at the very least, leave the house for a little while to clear my head. Simple steps make being kind to myself more manageable and, in turn, make my work and daily life better.

    What is one thing that you wish everyone would remind themselves every day?
    It is important to care for yourself but it is equally important to care for others. This means working actively to build and strengthen the community around you; empowering others to feel loved and confident in themselves; and promoting a safe, positive, and healthy setting for others to thrive in. And these measures will often help you in the short and long run, too.

    What is it about GLSEN that you think makes them an important non-profit to represent?
    There are few places so tumultuous as school for LGBTQ+ kids (same goes for so many other kids and teens, for that matter). There’s a serious harassment problem for LGBTQ+ kids that not only makes it anxiety-inducing to go to school each day, it can be straight up dangerous for some of them — and the education system by and large hasn’t been nearly supportive enough in helping these kids get the time, attention, and respect that they need in order to have a productive K – 12 educational career. (Of course, much of that can be attributed to a stark lack of funding for schools and educators, but that’s a whole other ballgame.) The point still stands that LGBTQ+ kids are getting brushed aside or bullied, which can impede their success for the rest of their lives.

    Through information, training, and leadership, GLSEN is empowering these students — and enabling educators — so more LGBTQ+ kids can go to school without fear of getting left out, laughed at, or harmed in any way.

    Shop the UO Pride X GLSEN Collection