how tavi took down the sartorialist

In 2011, The Sartorialist threw some ageist shade at a then 14-year-old Tavi Gevinson. Four years and millions of Rookie readers later, she’s hitting back.

by Emily Manning
May 21 2015, 4:15pm

Photography Petra Collins

Before Tavi Gevinson bloomed from 11-year-old Style Rookie into the full-fledged teen media queen behind Rookie mag, she was sporting some serious spooky-grandma-chic looks in the Dior #frow while sharing her thoughts about school days and Saint Laurent. Although her earnest and intelligent observations have since galvanized young people everywhere to share their own opinions, Tavi also found her fair share of haters along the way.

Back in 2011, when Tavi was just 14, The Sartorialist's Scott Schuman told online interview magazine The Talks, "I think her success is a little bit of a conspiracy by established print media that wanted to show that this blog thing is not that important, that it's done by a bunch of twelve year olds." This conspiracy notion made Schuman's subsequent statement even all the more facepalm-inducing: "But a lot of us are serious grown-ups."

Unfortunately, the then 43-year-old Schuman continued speaking: "I think it's great that Tavi can create a blog and write for other people that are like-minded - probably other kids around her age - but I don't know how that is going to help a 26-year-old, if she has never had a boyfriend or any of that kind of stuff." (Just like Malala Yousafzai can't teach anyone about education because she hasn't finished high school yet, right?) "She's just a kid," Schuman continued to emphasize, "so she can talk about art and stuff only in an abstract way," before sagely concluding, "to me it is like a five-year-old Michael Jackson singing about love - to him they are just words."

Fast forward four years, and Tavi is now an 18-year-old Michael Jackson: she's landed the lead in Broadway hit This is Our Youth, the cover of New York Magazine, and an appearance on The Colbert Report, cementing her status as the voice of a generation. Which makes her response to Schuman's shade in her own Talks interview, published yesterday, all the more satisfying. "That young people don't have valid thoughts about the world because they haven't been alive long enough is sadly a very popular and, frankly, unoriginal sentiment," Tavi said. "When I think about that time, I was just responding to the world around me. And I was perceptive enough that I felt like I could make connections to things in my life. I don't think it was abstract."

Tavi proceeded to flip the script on Schuman's ageist comments, making poignant observations with an uncharacteristically snarky twinge: "And I am basically skeptical of any adults who have those kinds of things to say about young people because it seems to always very transparently stem from fear and insecurity." And if you thought Schuman could ever be a contender for Rookie's popular feature Ask a Grown Man, Tavi shut that one down with a final mic drop: "And to be honest, the fact that he's shorter than me in real life." 


Text Emily Manning
Photography Petra Collins

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