I'll never forget a valuable piece of advice given to me from an unlikely source long ago. I was in my early twenties, working as a personal shopper in a very high-end, upscale boutique close to home in the south. One of my favorite clients was a single woman in her late thirties whose very successful profession as a medical supply sales rep garnered her the fat income needed to afford her weekly visits to my expensive dressing room. "P" was hilarious, and regularly supplied me with colorful recaps of her dating life between outfit changes. One thing I always found most fascinating was her obvious success in a very cut-throat male dominated field surrounded by doctors and PhDs, while she more humbly claimed an Associates or Bachelors at best on her short resume. Yet here she was, maintaining a high six-figure salary with impressive annual bonuses like it was child's play. What's more, P wasn't what I'd call naturally book smart or brainy. Her jovial personality, wit and people skills more than made up for her lack of scholarly creds, mind you. Still, I was intrigued with P's accomplishments and driven to know more. What was her secret. One day, while I crouched on the floor of her dressing room amidst twenty-thousand dollars worth of merchandise she was gently considering buying I asked her. "P, how did you get into your profession?" While adjusting her La Perla bra strap, without even giving the question much thought, she turned to me and said, "Babe, it's not what you know, it's who you know", before turning back around to slip on a pair of $1,800 pants. I felt like I'd been given the golden key to unlocking the universe. Why hadn't anyone informed me of this before. It was the smartest, and most useful thing P had ever said to me. Which, all things considered, our convos usually consisted of Prada, cleavage, suede or velvet, and silicone vs saline.. Turns out her best friend had her job before deciding a marriage and babies were more important so she put P, a woman whom wanted nothing else but her job, in her place. A hungry go-getter that longed for nothing else, other than becoming the most successful medical supply sales agent in the south.
P's story is hardly identical to the moral of this one, which is that no-namers have to work incredibly hard--harder than their more recognizable competition--to get ahead in their field and actually make a name for themselves all their own. 16yr old Brooklyn Beckham, son of those Beckhams, Victoria & David, was recently pegged to shoot the Burberry Brit campaign, and people all over the globe are absolutely losing their insides over it. His juvenile status combined with the fact he allegedly only recently started playing around with photography has caused an outrage to hardworking seasoned photogs everywhere. It's a pretty safe assumption had he not been born into Beckham "royalty" he wouldn't have such a covetable gig. Clearly. But can the same be said for Kendall Jenner and her sudden supermodel status? Sure, she's tall, thin and beautiful but had the former reality star not been spawned from celebrity parents would she be walking the shows for Lagerfeld and Chanel Couture in Paris? The debate is still on the table. Famous genes or not, she's steadily booking high profile gigs with zero signs of losing steam any time in the near future. The success of that entire Klan is questionable though, and always up for debate (or just plain hate), let's be honest.
Hollywood, London or New York--the film, fashion, and fine art industries--go down the lists and you're sure to find that almost every power player shares a family tree with the elite. This is the way the world has worked since the beginning of time. It's the reason sororities, fraternities, leagues and clubs were formed; to single out the order of hierarchy and network amongst your peers. Assigning a job that must garner as much attention as possible to a 16yr old celebrity over a brilliant, trained pro is as obvious as it is unfair. Even though I'm willing to bet the Beckham kid does a better than okay job with his new role, seeing that his "mum" is a fashion GODDESS as is his father. It also doesn't hurt that the teen has 5.9 million followers on Instagram. When you gross a number that challenges that, you will book every job too, glitzy gene pool or not.
Listen, I know all too well the bitter taste of losing out to those with a more recognizable moniker than my own. As a fashion journalist I've often been picked over for girls half my age-younger with no previous writing experience save for Tweets simply because they already have a following. Doing what exactly, outside of social media, I haven't a clue. The unwarranted rejection has gotten me down time and again. But there's a positive to this, folks, and not simply to offer you cliched advice. Having to work that much harder to compete with celeb status or family notoriety makes you better than the competition in your playing field; your work that much more glorious. Being a "nobody" also awards you plenty of room for error, something that's completely robbed from the famous. Maybe one out of millions of people hope to see you fall when you're a "simpleton", while the opposite is terribly true for the most watched. When we are rewarded with praise and promotions no one is saying that it's strictly because of who birthed us and that we're lacking any talent otherwise. Brooklyn and Kendall hear this on the regular. We actually get the chance to prove we're good enough simply by the work we put forth. We get to start with a clean slate. Big names don't exactly have that luxury. I don't know about you, but I want to be known as Robyn The Great Writer, never--Robyn, You Know, From That Family/Fame That Thinks She's A Writer.
So yeah. Those of us born with a regular spoon in our mouths, not the fancy kind, have to work extra damn hard to get ahead. But you know what never hurt a person? Hard work; a challenge; and success you can claim all your own. Just ask Oprah.