Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tavi Gevinson

Leave it to me to be jealous of a 14 year old (actually, she may be 13). Regardless of age, Tavi Gevinson is probably the envy of most bloggers who care about what they are writing. She began her blog, The Style Rookie at the age of 11 and it took off. She is now one of the most influential individuals in the fashion world and she only just started her freshman year of high school.

Tavi is asked to attend most of the major fashion shows every season. She was a muse for Rodarte's Target collection and has guest edited on She is an extremely fresh face in a very adult world and doesn't seem to lose herself along the way. She has experienced her share of criticism from those who don't necessarily support one’s own personal sense of style. What I like about her is her earnest ability to stay true to who she is. Child or not she clearly has her head on straight and it will be interesting to see where she goes in the future and what direction she takes as far as writing and fashion are concerned.

I wrote a bit about this in my post about Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington but to reiterate, fashion is a multibillion dollar industry, affecting everyone whether or not the world appreciates it. We all wear clothes. Maybe not from designers but it’s a trickle down system like everything else so the choices made by major fashion houses will naturally set a precedent for the general public. Bottom line is fashion cannot be ignored. Creative fields will always be recognized as less than other industries regardless of financial strength. Fashion's stereotype as having a foundation in female and homosexual interests also does it a diservice when compared to other industries.  I mean do sports save lives?  No, the athletic world is an entertainment industry just like fashion, but it seems to be more highly regarded.  In fact, some could say fashion bleeds into athletics as far as fan wear is concerned. Being renowned in the fashion world is no small thing, so therefore, Tavi is no small thing.  She should be recognized for the success she has found. 

Tavi's achievements are pretty straight forward. She is talented and a visionary. The intricacies about what makes her brand of fashion commentary unique however are a little more concealed. By this I mean they are ideas generally ignored by the greater fashion community. Tavi is a feminist. Feminism and fashion are usually at odds with one another, which I find to be a major disconnect since there are so many powerful female voices in the fashion world. However, the consumer is king and the consumer demands (we are told) that women are the sum of their body parts and those body parts better make us want to fuck them. We all buy into this whether or not we want to. It’s unavoidable. We can avoid disregarding these issues however. They matter. And Tavi knows this.

A few months ago, a major controversy erupted around Terry Richardson, a noted fashion photographer. Several models have spoken out about sexual abuse they suffered during photo shoots with him. While this is disturbing, what is more upsetting is the apparent cover up that has existed throughout the entire fashion industry protecting the depraved behavior of Richardson. The few models that had complained while still working were instantly booted by their agencies. Magazine editors continue to book the man for editorials and dozens of celebrities have stepped up to protect him. Many high fashion models are in their mid-teens so this isn’t an issue of an adult harassing another adult but a predator preying on children. Of course many feminist sites were quick to attack him, however, very few from the fashion inside had much to say on the matter outside of “Richardson’s a genius.” Tavi is the exception.

In "can i just say:" she takes the fashion community to task by calling them out for their blatant victim blaming and ridiculous support of Richardson.  This was by no means a move that went unnoticed.  As I mentioned earlier Gevinson has some major pull in the fashion world.  She is the new "it" girl in more ways than one.  Her style is commendable and her eye is brillant, but her writing is what has made her the girl to have at runway shows and guest editing magazines.  When Tavi likes it, so will others.  Same is true when she doesn't like something and for her to be a voice of reason in a sea of spineless mutes is incredibly refreshing.

She often writes about how the world of style affects not only her experience but that of all women.  As I glance through her tome of photos, words, and thoughts, I can't help feeling inspired and encouraged.  We all know that style cycles.  The 80's are on their way out and the 90's are creeping back in.  For me what makes this exciting is the possibility of another feminist revival.  Now, some feminists like to say we don't need another wave and those who care have always cared, but the fact of the matter is that once the new millennium hit (more specifically 9/11) the feminist fire that was alive and mainstream during the 90's died out.  Everyone wanted to go back to the "good ol' days".  Sure, women kept going to work and earning degrees, but look at the women who today are the loudest: Bristol and Sarah Palin.  Family values are marketed as the new renegade way of life.  Television LOVES stories about teen moms and we can't ignore all that Britney Spears did in the past decade (Sex icon turned mother).  

Popular culture has been lacking that "kick in the groin" mentality that the 90's so radically exploited.  Ok, ok, it doesn't help that Courtney Love and Gwen Stefani have self imploded as far as feminism is concerned in this decade, but we can't forget what they did for all of us ladies back in their younger years.  If grungy old school Love is enough to reignite the feminist fire in a new generation, then her legacy is a positive one.  Tavi is clearly expressing a need for a modern feminist icon as evidenced by her love of Daria and all things related to "Freaks and Geeks".  With her influence, you never know what will happen.  Daria the next generation perhaps?

I often think about how feminism relates to youthful idealism.  This is something that Tavi could potentially personify but I have hopes that she will carry her beliefs with her into adulthood.  Sometimes it seems like feminism is a belief system that dies out when women get to be my age.  I am often struggling with the balance between maintaining my ideals at an age that tells me to be a bit more realistic than when I was a kid living in my parents house.  As a teen, you don't have the same types of life defining pressures (ex. babies, career, marriage) as you do when you are an adult.  I'm bombarded with messages that encourage me to abandon the principles I want to keep for a life that is more mainstream.  This mentality definitely gets into my head and creates a lot of self doubt.  What if I miss out on something?  What if I have regrets?  It's the truth when I say that guys have become uninterested in me after they find out about my feminist sympathies and that honestly sucks.   Even supporters of my blog find me to be too extreme at times. (An opinion I heartily disagree with :) 

I have to remind myself that it's hard at any age to be true to what you think is right and longing for the petri dish that is high school is incredibly foolish.  Tavi and other girls like her have revitalized my desire to assert myself by living the life I want.  Sure there are risks that will have to be taken, but it seems like our team is growing with this new generation of females that want to reject the way things are "supposed" to be.  The fashion part just makes it more fun.
Tavi at "The Interview Show" at the Hideout 2/4/11

1 comment:

  1. Another brilliant post! I love Tavi!
    I had no idea that Terry Richardson had been accused of sexually abusing models. I was a big fan of his...damn.

    And, as always, I agree with you on the whole pressure to do things they way they are supposed to be as opposed to living your life how YOU want to live your life. It's a constant battle but in the end, I HONESTLY think it will be worth it.