Valerie Monroe
Photo: Jonathan Skow
Valerie Monroe has been the beauty director at O, the Oprah Magazine since September, 2001. It is her first foray, in over 30 years of magazine journalism, into the field of beauty. She has been an editor at Ms., Redbook, SELF and Parenting magazines, among others, a contributing writer at Parents and Entertainment Weekly, and has written hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics for many national publications. She is the author of two books: Citykids (Simon & Schuster), about raising kids in cities across the country, and In the Weather of the Heart (Doubleday), a memoir of her marriage, and she is currently working on a third book about raising her son (now 29). She has taught feature-writing at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. In October 2007 she was honored at the Skin Cancer Foundation's Skin Sense Award Gala for her commitment to beauty, skin health and sun protection.

Valerie was born in New York City and raised in a nearby suburb, where she believes she was, during her 17 year residence there, one of the least attractive and most awkward children in the town. Through her experiences with much prettier and more popular girls and boys, she discovered that the phrase, "beauty is only skin deep," is only marginally handy in some situations, and not the least bit useful in negotiating a date or much else having to do with the social contract. She knows first-hand how important it is for women to feel beautiful, because in the thousands of emails she has received in response to the Ask Val page in O, readers always want to know what they can do to look prettier and more alluring. Having interviewed, during her 12 years as beauty director, hundreds of internationally renowned experts of all kinds for beauty stories—from makeup artists to dermatologists, plastic surgeons, cosmetic dentists, hair stylists and hair specialists—she also knows that the options available for self-improvement are legion and increasing, and that women can feel as if they are never doing enough. That's why O's approach to beauty is to celebrate our assets, have fun while we're at it, and to reinforce the notion that real beauty—not skin deep at all—comes straight from the heart.