The Best ‘Glamour’ Stories of 2020

We’re proud of all the Glamour stories we published this year, but we understand there’s a hell of a lot to read out there, especially during a period in our lives that can only—if annoyingly—be described as “unprecedented.” Most of us had more time than ever on our hands, which means more hours to consume an unrelenting onslaught of content, from TV shows and books to viral stories across the web. 

As a sendoff to a year filled with atrocities we hope shall never be repeated, we compiled—in no particular order—some of our favorite pieces from 2020 that you might have missed or just want to revisit in one place. Thanks for reading—we can’t wait to bring you more of what you love in 2021.

Our annual event that honors trailblazers and rule-breakers tribute video replaced our awards ceremony, but our in-depth profiles of phenomenal women remained the same. This year, we honored actor, director Regina King; Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; iconic labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta; the women of Elmhurst hospital, an early epicenter of the pandemic; president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Sherrilyn Ifill; and every single one of you, the women who persevered during the most challenging year.

Glamour‘s September cover highlighted hair discrimination, which in 43 states is perfectly legal. In the story, six women talked about unpleasant experiences on the job, and how they’re advocating the passage of the Crown Act in every state, a vital piece of legislation that makes it illegal to discriminate against a person for the way they wear their hair to work. In addition to the cover, Our Hair Issue also included a powerful PSA on hair discrimination as read by incomparable celebrities, frank essays, a series of shoppable wash-day diaries, an exploration of why black hair is considered so offensive to begin with, and more. 

Anything Rihanna does is ahead of the curve, but her business ventures have truly broken the mold as far as representation. In 2020, Rihanna made it a point to feature a diverse array of body types and sizes in her Fenty fashion shows, ads, and—most unusually—the men’s section of Fenty’s E-commerce site, which features a plus-size man modeling boxers in size XXL. Writer Chris Rosa explains why this visibility is vital.

“Cottagecore”—an aesthetic straight out of a laudanum-induced Laura Ingalls Wilder dream—was everywhere in 2020. Glamour’s   Shanna Shipin argues that, on the surface, the trend seemed to be one reserved for cis white women thanks to its reference points—from Pride and Prejudice to Little Women—and how fashion trends that romanticize historic moments are can be problematic because they exclude those who were disenfranchised during the period of inspiration. But in a year that continued to surprise, Cottagecore hasn’t been a trend of exclusion—Black women all over the world not only participated in it, but emerged as some of the most interesting ambassadors of the look, using it to, in part, reclaim a history that refused to recognize them.

Whether you think TikTok is the coolest thing ever created or an absurdist time suck designed for devoid souls, one thing’s for certain: the youth that populate the social media platform have thoughts. This year, the teens of TikTok declared many things lame including … the side part.  Glamour‘s Jenny Singer got to the heart of the matter and talked to some of the movement’s leaders to find out whether how you wear your hair really matters. Apparently, it does. Take it with a grain of salt, though, because these are the same children that also mercilessly waged war against Hamilton creator Lin Manuel Miranda this year for absolutely no reason. 

Speaking of TikTok, Gen Zers on the platform also had some strong opinions on things that are of interest to the general beauty-buying public, including a strong preference for inexpensive, accessible, and notably effective products over the very pink, very precious, very “millennial” concoctions that have swept Instagram for years thanks largely to their packaging and marketing. Glamour‘s Bella Cacciatore explores what Generation Z’s viewpoint could mean for the future of the “shelfie.”

In June, we found ourselves in the the middle of dual public health crises: the coronavirus—which affected people of color with disproportionate force—and racism, which prompted people to take to the streets to demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other victims of state-sanctioned violence. On the ground with them: Black reporters who bear a unique burden. The undercurrent of civil unrest, frustration, and grief isn’t just a familiar headline; it’s personal. And covering it daily, with little sleep, exacts a toll. Glamour‘s Mattie Kahn talked to eight journalists who explained this burden in their own words.

Paul Archuleta

The sunny star of ’90s staples like Clarissa Explains It All and Sabrina the Teenage Witch was told she needed to adapt to Hollywood’s standards to make it big. Instead she carved a new path. In this interview, Glamour‘s Jessica Radloff talks to Hart about her expansive acting and directing career, her response to people who think she’s “disappeared,” and how she was told, at one point early in her rise, that she could be a big movie star if she lost 10 pounds. “I spent one day trying to be bulimic, and that didn’t work because I hate throwing up. I was like, No, I’m not going to do that. I guess I’m just not going to be a movie star if that’s what it takes.”

In May, Glamour‘s Mattie Kahn profiled Harris but this time, it wasn’t really about politics. Instead, the soon-to-be-VP-elect talked about her deep love of food and cooking, taking us back to when her mother, a cancer researcher and civil rights activist, would wake up on weekend mornings and get a head start on dinners for the rest of the week. “As a child, I remember hearing the pots and smelling the food, and kind of like someone in a trance, I would walk into the kitchen to see all this incredible stuff happening,” Harris says. “My mother used to tell me, ‘Kamala, you clearly like to eat good food. You better learn how to cook.’”

It’d been 16 years since her last flare-up, but thanks to the stress of 2020, the 38-year-old singer’s skin condition made an unexpected return. This time Rimes refused to keep it a secret and got vulnerable in an interview with Glamour‘s Lindsay Schallon and bravely shared some never-before-seen photos that showcased her condition in a new light.

We profiled the former congresswoman’s meteoric rise and an even faster fall: She was a former community college student who became the leader of a major nonprofit, then launched and won a seemingly impossible run for Congress in a deep-red district by the time she was 31. In Congress she shone for exactly one year. Then a right-wing site published the photos, which promptly spread as only nude photos of a 29-year-old congresswoman can. Hill says the photos, some of which were taken without her knowledge, could have only come from her then husband, who she says threatened to “ruin” her if she left him. She resigned, with a resounding last stand of a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives. 

What else to do during a global lockdown but suddenly become obsessed with baking and cooking and documenting it all online? We made the best banana bread of all time, cornbread, cookies, and a fancy tuna sauce, but Glamour‘s Jenny Singer took it one step further and recreated actor Robert Pattinson’s go-to quarantine dish, a made-up pasta situation that includes the microwave, cornflakes, and sugar. Here’s how that went. 

In the early days of quarantine, you couldn’t visit a website without being accosted by the effect the pandemic was having on retail. Namely, how it rapidly spurred the sales of sweats and “couch clothes” for obvious reasons. So when we fond out one of our own—commerce editor Shanna Shipin—still put on jeans every day to work from home, we understandably demanded an explanation. The story still holds up because, after nine months of hunkering down, some of us are starting to finally shimmy back into our “before” clothes, so let Shanna’s (very cute) outfits serve as some style inspo.

In her honest memoir, Open Book, Jessica Simpson stripped away the glamour associated with the blond hair, the clothing empire, and the early-2000s radio hits. Addiction, sexual abuse, toxic relationships, body-image bullies—nothing is off-limits. In an exclusive excerpt coupled with our original photography showcasing Simpson in her most authentic light, readers saw the mogul—who was also the guest-editor of our February Honesty Issue—at her most raw, relatable, and, yes, intelligent. 

In 2020, we introduced a new series, Your Fave’s Faves, in which your favorite celebrities including Cardi B, Hailey Bieber, Angelica Ross, Billy Porter, Jennifer Lopez, Kacey Musgraves, Issa Rae, and Ina Garten share their favorite stuff. From the jeans and leggings they can’t live without, the books and TV series they’re blowing through, and the mascara that makes them look more awake, it’s a fascinating glimpse into how famous people spend their money, their time, and the everyday things they willingly choose to use. Read them all here!

Cori Bush—a nurse, activist, and pastor from Missouri—unseated a 20-year incumbent to become her district’s next representative. As she got ready to head to Congress in November 2020, she made headlines by tweeting that her Washington, D.C., wardrobe will be sourced mainly from thrift shops. The incoming congresswoman talked to us about her style philosophy, her financial reality, and shared her thrifting 

In Glamour‘s March cover story, World Cup champion Alex Morgan explains how she had it all planned out: train full-throttle to be ready for the Tokyo Olympics less than three months after she gives birth this spring. She didn’t plan for an Olympic postponement, or the reality of giving birth in the midst of a pandemic.

From the very second that high-powered defense attorney Haley Fitzgerald appeared on HBO’s bingeable limited series The Undoing, people were obsessed with good reason: Noma Dumezweni is a force. Here, Glamour‘s Chris Rosa caught up with the veteran theater actor at he height of Undoing mania to talk about her exceptional performance, working with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant, and whether she saw the memes demanding a spinoff for her character (hint: she did, and she’s not opposed.) 

In the words of Glamour‘s Erin Parker: “Being a Black woman in America has never been easy, but with today’s historic civil rights movement hitting a fever pitch, stress is at an all-time high. Between nonstop media coverage and Instagram in-boxes flooded with DMs from allies looking for ways to help, the noise is hard to tune out. Finding peace and stillness is more important now than ever.” From skin-care rituals to online therapy, Parker interviewed Black women to find out how they’re making self-care a priority.

Freelance writer Mekita Rivas on how an ill-advised tweet about the misadventures of an American billionaire went viral, ended up on MSNBC, and almost ruined her life.

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