tavi gevinson is the icon for an activist generation
She started her blog Style Rookie when she was 11, sat front row at Dior at the age of 12, and ditched fashion for feminism at 14, but Tavi Gevinson is still figuring things out — and that’s ok.
Rookie Mag is full of stories with titles like "You can do basically whatever the hell you want, as long as it doesn't hurt anybody" and interviews with everyone from TLC to the girl developing an app to help track down online bullies. There are how-tos for "gigantisizing" your eyes, looking fine on a dime or taking every ugly thing anyone has ever said about you and wearing it with pride. It's everything you wanted to talk about when you were a teenage girl but needed affirmation that other teenage girls were thinking the same before you'd actually talk about it. When Tavi Gevinson swapped her blog Style Rookie for Rookie Mag at the age of 14, she shifted the conversation from fashion to pop culture and feminism, providing a platform for like-minded teens to also be voices of their generation. When we were trying to hold a pencil between our non-existent cleavages and putting Vaseline on our eyelashes, Tavi was talking about what it means to be a strong female character, questioning whether you could be interested in fashion and be a feminist, and making it totally OK to be a contradictory teenager. Now 18, she's just finished an eight-month stint acting alongside Kieran Culkin and Michael Cera in a play, This Is Our Youth. She's living on her own in New York and working on Rookie Yearbook Four. Rookie by name, icon by nature, Tavi is a loud voice of Generation Z.
What did you want Style Rookie to be when you started it?
I just liked having a place to chronicle my style, interests and tastes as they were developing. Then I saw it more as a place to work out my feelings, my views on feminism, or my experiences in fashion.
What do you want Rookie Mag to be now?
The most I can hope for is that someone walks away from it feeling entertained, helped, or just better about themselves and life. I want girls who read it to know they are already cool enough, smart enough, good enough, pretty enough, I want it to make people feel safe.
What made you want to change the direction?
I got tired of just musing on my own life. I liked the idea of working on something that was meant to service its audience, and I wanted to make the kind of thing that would say what my friends and I needed to hear. I was entering adolescence and felt generally unsupported by a lot of media for young people in my humble quest for, like, self-esteem.
Who were your role models when you started Style Rookie?
Cindy Sherman and Bob Dylan were inspiring to me in how I began to think about change and personal identity, and even fashion as a way of doing that, and exploring different sides of yourself (which was also, I think, related to my interest in acting).
Who are your role models now?
I feel really inspired by Jenny Slate because the job she did in Obvious Child was at a level of earnestness and rawness that I would like to have the courage to emulate every day of my life. Also, she herself seems to represent this really healthy sense of humour about yourself and how terrible life can be, and the dedication to making it into art and storytelling.
Is it important to use your platform to affect change?
I think everyone has to decide for themselves. My answer to that is very different for Beyoncé than it is for, like, Jenny McCarthy!
Did you think Karl Lagerfeld's feminist protest for Chanel spring/summer 15 was "pointless activism," or a step in the right direction?
I don't know if it was harmful so much as just sort of pointless and zeitgeist-y. There are more substantive ways that his influence could be used if that had been his intention.
You're often hailed as the "voice of your generation." What do you want to say?
I want to redirect people to other voices that ought to be heard and only really speak for myself. There should not be one singular voice of a generation or face of a movement.
What makes your generation unique?
We have incredible access to information, we don't have such a huge generation gap with people older than us, and we have been given tools that we are better versed in than our seniors, which is both exciting and dangerous.
What advice do you want to give young feminists today?
Listen to each other and learn about what feminism means for other people and how other feminists' experiences are different from yours.
What's the best thing about being young today?
Living in a weird post post post modern apocalypse where, most institutions are crumbling and almost every opinion is moot, and the only answer is to trust yourself and mix everything up .
Text Felicity Kinsella
Photography Petra Collins
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