Monday, October 18, 2010

WANTED: More Young Women Like Tavi Gevinson

I would like to be this young woman when I grow up!

Tavi Gevinson started high school this fall. She also runs a fashion blog, Style Rookie, that gets a million and a half hits a month. I ask her what it’s like, as a semi-professional fashion critic, to walk the halls observing her schoolmates and their various fashion senses. Tavi says she knows girls in sweatpants aren’t trying to make a statement. “I think it would be sort of ridiculous if I was like, ‘Well, this person is really nice, but their t-shirt really puts me off.’”

Style Rookie stays fresh through multitudinous fashion seasons thanks to Tavi’s wry and frank writing. (One post features Tavi modeling freshly dyed blue hair. Her caption: “I was told I look like an Oompa Loompa during lunch and it made my day increasingly better.”) When I ask if her blogging style came naturally, she says, “It definitely took a while, I’m still working on that.”

Over the course of our conversation, Tavi reminds me of this a lot. She recently styled a shoot for BlackBook and was a guest blogger on Jezebel. She’s written for Harper’s Bazaar, she was recently profiled in The New Yorker, and she’s got 54,000 daily readers. But she’s 14, so fair enough—she’s still working on it.
I think my favorite quote from the piece is when Tavi said: "... the most subversive thing you can do as a girl is just do what you want."

She also has good advise about feminism.
Too many girls of her generation, she says, shy away from identifying themselves as feminists for fear of association with negative stereotypes. But, explained Tavi at IdeaCity, "You’re doing something just by identifying yourself as [a feminist] because you’re changing the stereotype. You’re showing that a bunch of different people can be one." [...]

I ask Tavi if the success of Style Rookie has taught her anything about herself. “Oh, my god,” she says. “Yeah.” For the last two seasons of New York Fashion Week, Tavi went to parties and rubbed elbows with celebrities, and always obliged photographers who wanted her picture. This year was different. “There was a moment when one woman [photographer] said, ‘Oh, just one photo.’ Then obviously a bunch of other photographers crowd around. And I just left, I headed straight for the door and I left. And it felt so good.”

She paused. “I’m sure this all sounds really like, ‘Oh life is so hard—photographers!’ But it’s confusing…I don’t want to make anyone’s job hard for them. But if I do the photos it’s [perceived] like, ‘Oh I love getting my picture taken.’ And if I don’t do them, it’s like I think I’m too good. There are so many instances like that where I just cannot win. So I just try to do what I’m most comfortable with before I consider the way it will be perceived.”

When I begin to tell her that this kind of wisdom is rarely gained in 14 years, Tavi quickly replies. “I’m still working on it.”
Me, too!


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