Hero status: Tavi Gevinson

My religion is basically Tavi Gevinson, so I forget that not everyone in the universe is as obsessed as I am. Hence this tasty explainer as to her awesomeness in a nutshell!

tavi gevinson
Photo: jauretsi

Tavi started her fashion blog, The Style Rookie, in 2008 at AGE ELEVEN (see her very first post here, short but sweet) and got famous a couple years later. She caught the attention of Forbes, TIME, The New Yorker, the NYT, and other big names before even graduating from high school. Her trademark is her writing: self-deprecating and funny while insightful, honest, and (yes) wise beyond her years. Oh yeah, and looking like a petite, stylish yet eccentric elf (she’s like 4’11” and hugely cool, dyeing her hair grey eons before anyone else).

In September 2011–age 15–she launched Rookie, a website that’s sort of the anti-Seventeen for teenage girls. Sure, there are makeup tutorials, playlists, and style advice, but they’re alongside honest essays by high schoolers about coming out, being trans, racism, and other Big Issues. Less Kardashian worship, more riot grrrl. HEART.

At age 16, she gave a TED talk. Age 17: costarred in Enough Said with Julia Louis-Dreyfus (after that, small roles in Parenthood and Scream Queens). Age 18: debuted on Broadway in This Is Our Youth (later, The Crucible and, coming up, The Cherry Orchard). She writes, acts, AND sings (!), with guest vocals on Seth Bogart of Hunx and His Punx fame’s most recent album. But it’s obvious she’s not some fame-hungry, undiscriminating opportunist; by age 14, she’d turned down a chance to be on Oprah.

I started to write “My favorite thing about Tavi is–” and realized there’s SO MUCH I love about her. She didn’t come from money; she’s the daughter of an English teacher and grew up in suburban Chicago. She’s hella smart with an encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture, literature, and fashion, bespeaking a natural curiosity. She’s immensely creative. Maybe most of all, she seems almost unwaveringly true to herself. She doesn’t seem to serve anything like wealth or fame, just creativity, self-expression, knowledge, and beauty. She’s an unofficial mascot for all of us weird girls without being snobby or Cooler-Than-Thou. Somehow she manages to be vulnerable and accessible despite being A Huge Deal. I MEAN!

Tavi turned 20 this spring and, personally, I’m so relieved the media has to stop referring to her as a precocious teen. She’s a grown-ass woman now but is still every bit as impressive and inspiring as she was at 11. (Next up: the movie Human People with Michael Cera & Abbi Jacobson and another Broadway role.)

What’s that? You wanted to know my fave Tavi quotes? STEP RIGHT UP:

  • “I think what human beings need is to be able to laugh at the absurd, hold on to ambiguity, and learn to love nuance, instead of making everything one or the other.” –Dazed
  • “Unless you like what you’ve made, no amount of praise is going to mean anything.” –Fast Co.
  • “The idea of being a mad eccentric who is constantly slipping into different skins is so appealing to me.” –her blog
  • “Take one look in my closet or room (except that would be creepy) and you’ll know I’m a maximalist. I love layers and keeping EVERYTHING and wearing too much jewelry.” –her blog
  • “At some point last year, I had this moment of feeling like, ‘I’m not an activist, that’s actually not what I’m interested in,’ so it was big for me to understand that I can be a feminist-minded creative.” –Bitch, 2013
  • On the best advice she’s ever gotten: “‘Don’t date anyone you wouldn’t want to be,’ from the writer Kate Bornstein.” –NYmag
  • “There is not enough time for hating yourself. Too many things to make. GO.” –handwritten sign in her apartment

(For regular Tavi inspo injections, her monthly editor’s letters for Rookie are thought-provoking and deep and beautiful.)

And perhaps my fave of all time, from her blog in 2009:

I bought a harmonica necklace…and am now that asshole that walks around playing it in between sentences and words.
Grocery store cashier: Will that be all, sir? (everybody thinks I am a boy, even when I wear a dress)
Me: Why, *plays short tune* I believe it is! *plays short note*
Cashier: That’ll be (random price) sir.
Me: *plays low flat note* But aren’t the fruit roll ups on sale?
Cashier: Oh, you’re right. My bad.
Me: That’s me, Bargain Hunter! *long triumphant note*”

AHAHAHA! How can you not love her?!

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