What do you think is the true definition of the modern woman? From working hard professionally to managing a household effortlessly. A wonder woman or you can call her a boss lady, Justine Cullen is an icon of inspiration.
She is an award-winning fashion editor and author who’s been working for other women. She also engaged in women’s empowerment in the fashion and beauty industry.
Cullen started her career at seventeen, and since then, she spent her life writing and reaching the pinnacle of her career.
She is a synonym for ‘perfection’ for others. However, she describes herself as a woman far from the word ‘perfection’ in her book. Cullen is a revolutionary woman who brought controversial changes to Australia. She broke the glass ceiling and shattered many stereotypes in the fashion magazine industry.
She is an unread rare book. Her chapter starts with achieving her career goals and ends with parenting. Cullen’s life is a rollercoaster of ambitions and emotions. Her book, interviews, and podcasts inspired many people in Australia and the world.
A calming aura and fiery career aspirations are the ingredients for the gleaming life recipe. In this biographical article, we will acknowledge the creator of this extraordinary recipe, Justine Cullen.
1. Australian Version of The Devil Wears Prada
A shy, nerdy child transformed into a mature, outspoken woman who reshaped the fashion industry. Does it sound like a film plot? No, it is not a movie storyline but Justine Cullen’s life story. A creative mind and a restless soul who is not from a privileged background but from a hard-working one.
1.1 Story of an Editor
She is a self-made woman with shining dreams in her eyes. From wanting to become editor-in-chief of the world-famous magazine ELLE to finally launching ELLE in Australia, she walked each path of her dreams.
She has a tremendous professional and fascinating personal life, which she created by breaking down stereotypes. And she smashed the cultural barriers that a patriarchal society constructs for an ambitious woman like her.
2. Beginning of Justine Cullen’s Career
“No one is magazines for the money – you are in it because you love it.”– Justine Cullen.
If you ask a teenager what they want to be in the future? You might get a vague answer and a tone of confusion. On the other hand, as a teen, Justine Cullen knew her path for her journey.
Her excitement and curiosity for a world that was alien to her made her curious. A world of glamour and fashion came into her life in the form of Dolly magazine (an iconic teen Aussie magazine), which she used to read as a teenager.
At first, Cullen struggled to get work experience in her chosen field. But eventually, after many years of toiling, her passion gifted her a job as an editorial coordinator at Girlfriend magazine. The magazines brought career certainty to Cullen’s world.
In the early stages of her career, she worked with Elle magazine and interned at Dolly magazine. Part-time work with the Shop Til You Drop magazine was the most incredible opportunity for her. These jobs shaped her expertise in the fashion and beauty industry.
3. Justine Cullen as a Beauty Magazine Editor
Back when Justine Cullen started her career as a beauty editor for magazines. She was initially on a path to becoming an editor or editor-in-chief at her dream job. She dived into the unknowns of the beauty industry for about fourteen years.
Being a beauty editor was a responsible job for her. She managed the advertising money, represented the magazine, and worked as a marketer, a writer, a stylist, everything at once. A highly valued role that she thought she didn’t fit in.
In the chapter ‘The Beauty Editor Myth’ in her autobiographical book Semi-Gloss. Cullen spilled the beans with the insider secrets of the beauty industry.
In addition, she also thoroughly discussed the ever-changing beauty standards. And anxiety about living up to the expectations of society and the beauty industry.
4. Justine Cullen: Juggling Kids and Career
Becoming a mother of four kids wasn’t an easy job. An ambitious, career-oriented woman like Justine Cullen faced many difficulties.
She had her babies at different stages of her career and various stages of her life. The first baby was at the age of twenty-seven, and she wasn’t mentally ready for it then.
Cullen had two babies in her thirties and her fourth one at forty-two. She made multiple adjustments in her professional and personal life. As a result, she finds a balance in her lifestyle.
For instance, when her colleagues attended after-work parties and events. She tried to reach home every day to join her kids over dinner. Cullen’s motherhood experiences are discussed in depth by her in her autobiographical book and several interviews.
Cullen mentions that sort of motherhood adjustments were interesting. However, she also doesn’t regret having children at that age. Because according to her philosophy, there was something lovely about having that energy and being able to keep up with life.
5. Justine Cullen: Power of Motherhood
Justine Cullen was more determined, confident, and creative after her pregnancies because she had a vision for herself as a successful working mother, which she strived to achieve.
She felt more capable in the beauty and fashion business because she aced the skill of multitasking and the art of splitting time as a mother.
She worked on her strengths and weaknesses, boundaries, and triggers as a parent and prioritized her work differently.
Cullen created her career identity while balancing her domestic duties. It was an admirable achievement for a woman who lives in a patriarchal society and bears the weight of inequality.
‘Being a feminist, her approach to gender equality is working hard and showing the world the power of a modern woman.’
6. Justine Cullen, as the Editor-in-Chief at Elle Australia
Do dreams come true? I’d say yes because I know a woman named Justine Cullen, the former editor-in-chief of Elle magazine, who once wished for this position.
As a magazine editor, she wanted to launch Elle in Australia. When she heard that Elle was considering an Australian version, it was an astonishing opportunity for her to escalate her career.
But the timing was odd as she was pregnant and had just gotten married at that moment, and in the end, she prioritized her family.
And then, an unbelievable moment happened to her when her newborn was only twelve weeks old. She got her dream job as editor-in-chief at the world’s largest fashion magazine due to a delay in the launch.
7. A Plot Twist!
Cullen’s first work experience was at Elle, so being an editor at Elle was the destination of her professional journey. However, when self-discovery, introspection, and transformation took place in the fourteen-year-old girl’s dream in her forties, she resigned from her dream job!
Cullen no longer felt content with her job in Elle because of excessive unrest in her life and the industry. Hence, after five years, she stepped down as editor-in-chief in 2018.
She viewed herself as someone who didn’t fit the criteria of the fashion industry, as she didn’t attend fashion parties as much and focused on her family more.
Cullen is a grounded person who lived in Palm Beach for years, not in the city like other fashion people. Her views and approach to work differed from others in the industry, which alienated her from her team, and at last, she quit.
8. Behind the Shiny Cover!
In an interview with ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’, Justine Cullen revealed why she quit her dream job at Elle. She said her concerns were related to the future of Elle magazine under Bauer Media’s ownership.
Justine passionately cherished her title while working at Elle for years as editor-in-chief. And her choice of leaving made headlines. Everyone questioned her and speculated about her statements in the interviews.
She worked in the industry for three decades and spent most of her life overcoming the challenges of an uncertain business like a magazine. A magazine land, where the print media is transforming into a digital world expeditiously and readers are almost extinct. (It is time to update the game!)
During that time, Cullen’s concerns were advertising and distribution decline under Bauer Media. But regardless, she got freedom while working with Elle.
Consequently, she demolished many stereotypes and barriers that prevailed in the industry back then, and that’s why she loved Elle.
9. The Dirty Secrets of the Beauty and Fashion Industry
Cullen also mentions some of the most unexpected moments that made her question her work and choices in the past. Further, the instances she shared were inexplicable, racist, and xenophobic.
Cullen tells, ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’ how a publisher told her to lighten Beyonce’s skin, as she featured on a magazine’s front cover. She said it is natural for magazine publishers to use technology for retouching and cropping to create “ideal body images” for women.
Cullen casually revealed the dirty secrets of the beauty and fashion industry through her book Semi-Gloss. It’s not a book but the reality behind the glamorous, shiny covers of magazines.
In her book, she explores the prejudices of that time when black people, Asian people, and people like Rebel Wilson weren’t allowed to run on covers because “they wouldn’t sell on the cover.”
10. PTSD, Along with an Identity Crisis!
Detaching from a title you always wished for and searching for a new identity can feel like building yourself from scratch. It was a drastic moment of change in Cullen’s life when she left her job at Elle, as it was something she forever wished for.
After a few years, her world of dreams was shattered as she discovered this was something her fourteen-year-old self wanted, not her forty-year-old self.
Post-resignation, Cullen experienced publishing PTSD along with an identity crisis. She no longer had her precious title of the editor at Elle magazine with her.
She no longer knew how to introduce herself without her title. It wasn’t just a title for her, it was her identity with which people recognized her, and she was attached to it emotionally and aspiringly.
11. Justine Cullen: Mental Health Struggles
According to Cullen’s autobiographical book Semi-Gloss, her sense of self-worth was twisted by her fancy job title. And it was the cause of her mental struggles in the aftermath of her departure. It took an instructor and a supportive family to help her work out who she was.
12. How to Live Life to the Fullest, Learn from the Expert!
The idea of an ideal day for Justine Cullen is travelling with family. She is originally from Sydney, Avalon, on the Northern Beaches, locally known as ‘God’s Country’.
In an interview with ‘Globetrotter’, Cullen said she has visited about 25 countries. In addition, Morocco is still on her bucket list, and her favourite places are New York, LA, and Paris.
It is admirable how Cullen keeps up with her interests while having an occupied schedule. For a creative and hard-working person like her, travelling is a stress buster and an imaginative reboot.
13. Justine Cullen: Healthy and Fun Lifestyle!
A fan of Greek Islands and country music who juggled her career and four boys and still has an impressive social life, how? The answer is a fist full of passion and tons of dedication. Cullen is the kind of person you would like to befriend.
She binge-watched series like House of Cards, Nashville, Empire, The Handmaid’s Tale, and The Bachelorette (the masterpieces) and loves Netflix. (Pro tip from Cullen’s routine for upgrading your life and health. Laugh a lot and turn towards podcasts to relish that alone time.)
14. Justine Cullen: Fam and Instagram
Fun fact: You can know approximately 80% about a person’s personality just by looking at their Instagram. To get to know Justine Cullen, you should follow her on Instagram (@justine_cullen). Her account has a soothing and fun vibe to it. She has the persona of a goofy diva who is pineapple on pizza.
She is a feminist, editor, fashion journalist, author, mother, travel freak, a whole package, and an inspiring woman who posts funny videos occasionally.
15. Justine Cullen, an Influential Personality
Her Instagram is mostly about her family and fashion, but sometimes all you see are random and funny images. Is she even a celebrity? With more than 45k followers, Cullen shines brighter than those shiny magazine covers she worked for.
16. Fashion and Magazine Land
Justine Cullen is a down-to-earth person with no specific style. Nevertheless, she has all eyes on her wherever she goes. Interestingly, she does have a style statement. Which is ‘not embracing trends but making your style statements.’
Cullen wears many dresses with a neutral palette and shapes that suit and flatter her body type with chic but easy shoes and prominent bags.
She created her fashion sense through her close connection with the fashion industry and attended several fashion tours.
17. Justine Cullen: The Ways of Fashion!
Justine Cullen mentioned in an interview how the international fashion shows were eye-opening and inspiring for her. Her experience at big fashion shows in Paris with Chanel, Saint Laurent, Valentino, and Dior was a privilege for her to learn.
Hence, she understood the level of creativity, execution, and machinations of the fashion industry in-depth and enhanced her skills as an editor.
18. The Episode of Jones Magazine
After leaving her dream position as editor-in-chief at Elle magazine, Cullen got another opportunity to find her identity in Jones magazine.
Jones, the brand magazine and a custom publication in close collaboration with David Jones, assembled a top-notch content team of style and fashion experts. Further designs and generates all content based on customer insights across numerous channels.
The team carefully examines search, social, and consumer behavioural data to produce material that engages readers. This data is then layered with David Jones’ market research. Therefore, in several interviews, Cullen described it as the future of fashion media.
Her experience with Jones magazine was a new and innovative one. A rapid shift in her career was something different. A dynamic of content meets commerce, which redefined the concept of fashion for Cullen.
19. Justine Cullen, as the Editor-in-Chief at Jones Magazine
Cullen experienced the newness with Jones magazine before, which brands had a significant role to play. Since they had the reach and the distribution channels, editors had no freedom over their work, and finding readers as an editor was a task.
Moreover, she has always believed that active distribution is the best way to move forward in the future. The magazine she published for David Jones is called Jones Magazine, and it’s sent out directly to customers who are enthusiastic about it.
She believed that branded content made perfect sense for the fashion industry. Additionally, it was an innovative technique that audiences can now clearly distinguish between being entertained and receiving knowledge.
In her multiple interviews, Cullen discussed the importance of ensuring the content continues fulfilling its purpose. For this reason, she created new ideas and worked towards them with Jones.
20. A New Chapter: InStyle Magazine!
InStyle is a leading women’s magazine that delivers fashion trends, beauty tips, lifestyle news, and entertainment insiders through media. It is a guide to everything that’s in style and one of the world’s most prominent online magazines.
Justine Cullen is currently working as an editor-in-chief of InStyle Australia and thriving with new opportunities and a wonderful family.
In her recent interview with ‘Marketing’, Cullen discussed the different projects she is occupied with. Further, she mentioned her deliberation in an experiment with InStyle to build a new fashion era.
Her history of experimenting and risking her career for the quality of her work makes her unique in the world of normality. Where most people in the fashion industry fear changes, Cullen accepts them and creates a new vision for fashion each time.
20.1 Justine Cullen, as the Editor-in-Chief of InStyle Magazine
Cullen’s project with InStyle was in the headlines recently because of its exceptional impression on the magazine readers. Usually, fashion magazines have glamour Hollywood celebrities or fashion models on the front cover. However, the latest edition was all about Australia’s most popular show, Bluey.
It was a collaboration between Ludo Studio and InStyle Australia. The idea of featuring the kid’s cartoon character Chilli Heeler on a fashion magazine cover sounds illogical. But for Cullen, this wasn’t merely a cartoon character. Instead, more accurately, it is a representation of modern womanhood.
Her creative work surprised many and started cultural conversations in the fashion industry. Cullen understood the global impact of Australian icons and went with it to modify the world in her Aussie way.
The Chilli cover tells the story of mothers. Mothers who have been through a lot over the past few years. It tells the story of Justine Cullen as an impressive woman, and in addition, it is the story of many women who worked hard and created history.
21. Semi-Gloss: Moments of Justine Cullen’s Life!
With a high-profile career and four children, how did Justine Cullen manage to publish an autobiographical book? Her witty and insightful book, ‘SEMI-GLOSS: Magazine, Motherhood and Misadventures in the ‘Having It All‘ answers this question.
It is a time capsule of her life in the form of a book, which was published in the year 2021. She had little time to write this masterpiece two years after the agreed deadline. Cullen procrastinated writing because of her busy mother and working woman schedule.
Cullen described her book not as a self-help tool because she labels herself as a woman in her forties who “knows nothing at all.” According to her, it is not a memoir or an opus either, as she hasn’t done anything interesting enough.
‘This book is a collection of feelings, dreams, echoes and randomly remembered moments for her.’
22. An Autobiographical Book by Justine Cullen
Cullen divided her life lessons into chapters in her book with hilarious titles and uncovered the reality of fashion and beauty media. She briefly revealed her career struggles and motherhood experience. Her book finds what is behind the glossy façade surface.
This book is the life story of Australia’s most beloved and respected person, Justine Cullen. Additionally, it is a sweet and sour compilation of failures, imperfections, fights, love, hard work, and growing old.
This book is a 5/5, a perfect read for modern-day women who are against the comparison culture. It is for women who support other women to build a better and brighter future because the future is female.
Cullen’s book opens readers’ eyes to the reality of the imbalanced world. Further, teaches the importance of working hard and smart.
23. The Powerful Era of Womanhood!
Justine Cullen is known for being a proud feminist who knows that a woman can do anything she chooses to do. And she reflected this approach in her work precisely.
She is blessed to work in an industry of excellent and successful women who have been faces of feminism for years. Further, equality in the fashion and beauty industry is still indefinite.
In the modern world, women are more vulnerable to inequality and injustice with the rising cases of movements like #metoo. However, they are also far more united and supportive of one another than ever before.
Cullen’s creative experiments with the Elle magazine covers were the new generation of working models. Strategically made for independent and thoughtful women, she blended social and political ideology with pop culture. And eventually, she portrayed the role of women in society through the lens of fashion media.
24. “We’re in the Middle of a revolution!”
In the past, Cullen empowered Elle’s readers through her incredible ideas about womanhood. For instance, the iconic and controversial cover of Nicole Trunfio breastfeeding her son. It impacted the world culturally and revealed the power of the media in shaping and reshaping society.
25. Justine Cullen: Re-establishing the GirlBoss Culture
My life motto is “Whatever gets you through the night!”—Justine Cullen.
Cullen is an exceptional Australian figure who has influenced the country and the world with her work. She experienced her fair share of difficulties and sorrows. Though, she never gave up and overcame every single obstacle that was a barrier in her life.
Today, Cullen has a bigger and brighter smile. Indeed, she has admirable work experience on her CV. But most importantly, she has a loving family as her support system.
She is the epitome of the modern working woman who works 24 hours a day and stays frequently exhausted. Generally, to build herself up and accomplish the goals of her dreams.
26. ”The Future is Female!”
The fact that we are now openly discussing achievement, fulfilment, and aspiration, as well as how these concepts interact in women’s lives, is unusual and fascinating.
The expectations placed on women, in particular, revolve around how you combine your responsibilities.
And now, “doing it all” is the new normal for women. At this stage, women should be open and honest with one another about their capacities and the challenges they face.
Cullen believes that the system is so stacked against women becoming successful that now women have to work harder than men. Her views on womanhood are considerably more nuanced. For this reason, it can help you construct an astonishing future.
According to her, the guiding principles for success and safeguarding women from the hazards of society are:
Making healthy boundaries, learning to say no, juggling personal and professional life flawlessly, and having dreams to feed your passion.
I’m a content and creative writer, who graduated with an English literature degree. Writing is like meditation and travelling is a creativity booster for me. For the love of Australia and kangaroos, I’ll be writing insightful and exciting articles on this site.