Monday, August 18, 2008

Tavi to a T: Style Rookie profiled (finally) by NYT, outed by AP

style rookie

Long time, no Tavi update. After already doing three posts on the 12 year-old fashion blogger behind Style Rookie, frockwriter thought we’d give it a rest for a mo. But events dictate an update: a case in point, the much-touted New York Times T magazine feature on tween bloggers which was published yesterday.

Here’s the link to Elizabath Spiridakis’ feature ‘Post adolescents: Tween bloggers’ which profiles Tavi, alongside three other teen bloggers - and alludes to an additional two blogs.

It's unclear if Tavi is the only blogger younger than 15.

Beyond a fleeting mention of these young bloggers not being bothered by anonymous haters, it’s an upbeat, uncritical story.

But then, T is a fashion publication and as Spiridakis herself pointed out in her comment on frockwriter, she is employed at The New York Times as an art director, and not apparently as a journalist.

This is in spite of the fact that Spiridakis writes a sub-blog for’s The Moment blog (in addition to her own independent blog, White Lightning).

The T story had been in the pipeline for months. However as frockwriter pointed out in our third, and last, post on Tavi – and as Spiridakis herself concedes in the above-linked comment - New York magazine scooped T when it ran a profile on Tavi on July 22nd.

Last week the Associated Press went one better with a story written by Amanda Kwan called ‘Girls who blog: Innocent fun or potential danger?’ which has since been widely published in the US.

The August 12th AP story discusses the potential dangers for child bloggers – in the same breath, outing Tavi’s real identity and location.

Tavi’s real name is evidently Tavi Gevinson and her family lives in xxx, xxx.

This will presumably make it much easier for kiddie fiddlers to find them.

The story also notes of Tavi:

“To some wary adults, she's in a world where she doesn't belong”.

And introduces Parry Aftab, an internet privacy/security-specialist lawyer who is the executive director of, who notes:

"Parents have no idea what their kids are doing online. Most parents have no idea what a blog is."

This certainly appears to apply to Tavi’s father, Steve Gevinson, who reveals that he was not “fully aware” that his daughter was blogging until she sought permission to appear in The New York Times magazine story.

Steve Gevinson also reveals that, following the New York magazine blog post on Tavi – which prompted, as we reported, a blogging backlash again New York mag journalist Jessica Coen, who questioned Tavi’s age and savvy – Tavi was upset by some of the snarky comments by readers who agreed with Coen.

One assumes that Tavi might not have been so upset by the attention per se – because in information that has emerged elsewhere, Tavi is also part of a children’s theatre group and played the lead role in a recent production,

Tavi is no shrinking violet, in other words.

Gevinson told AP:

"She slept in the bed with us that night to get back to sleep. [The next night] She woke up, and again woke us up, and said - and this is really heartbreaking - 'I just woke up crying and I don't even know why I'm crying."'

The rep believes that haters/anonymous cyber bullies are one good reason why children should not be blogging.

The story also provides tips for parents who suspect that their kids might be blogging. These include:

- Encouraging children to write posts with another person (read adult), in the room.
- Ensuring that photos don’t have any personally identifiable information.
- Educating yourself about the net.

The childrens’ theatre connection may partially explain why some of Tavi’s images are so entertaining. Blogging, at its best, is part confessional, part standup comedy and Tavi appears to be a natural performer.

If Steve Gevinson is, as reported, an English teacher, then that may also help to explain why Tavi is so articulate for her age.

One thing about which I am still unclear however is the quality of Tavi’s photos. This is one of the chief reasons why I initially found it hard to believe her story.

With the exception of the series which appear with Tavi's first post following the NY mag brouhaha - in which she poses against a backdrop of newspaper clippings, with a type headline which reads, 'Between the lines' and even takes a bow in one shot (above) - most of the images that Tavi has since published look like those taken by your typical amateur photographer.

Some of the original shots, which I reproduced for the purposes of news and review – including the original Style Rookie masthead, which showed a shot of Tavi with some artfully-arranged type (but which has since been changed) – looked almost professionally art directed.

Call it beginner’s luck.


Anonymous said...

I find the whole Tavi thing rather creepy;she is like some ancient fashionista crone morphed into a kids body, unnatural.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering how she comes to have all this knowledge and those expensive-looking clothes - ok, she might be getting some freebies now, but she wouldn't have been when she started blogging.
If her father is indeed an english teacher, and presumably not earning a fortune,how would she have access to all this.She would have to be reading lots of magazines, and they are expensive too. Wonder what her mother does?
I do think the little mite looks a bit odd decked out like that at her age.

Anonymous said...

Did she design these clothes? Did she source the fabric, and have someone make them for her? Does she know about textiles? What the heck is this? Who is pushing this kid? All I have seen and read is that there is a possibly depressed "I cry every night" kid living in Chicago, playing dress-up, and blogging about it. Soon she will be more famous and wealthier than Issac Mizrahi, who has always busted his hump and knows the most esoteric details of fashion, fabric, tactility, and, yes politics of the fashion world. Too bad for all concerned.

Anonymous said...

i think you guys should just leave this girl alone. You have nothing better to do but pick on her. she has fame and you don't and your jelouse cuz you didn't do it first and that is why your lashing out on her. GET A LIFE !!!!PLEASE!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or does it seem unlikely that this wee sprite actually authors 'her' blog? Intelligent and precocious is one this but I ain't never seen a kid who can write and analyse like that at 12. Far too self-knowing. I call shenanigans.

Anonymous said...

I'm a fan in LA and follow her blogs and fashion wit.

Tavi is a wicked rapper, a wonderful writer and has a keen appreciation for design and fashion. She's a poet, a photographer and designed a very cool t-shirt. It's fun watching her meets her heros, but she also has a sophisticated appreciation for artists from all eras. I recommend her blogs and wish her well in the coming year.

Anonymous said...

Baffled as to why this girl inspires such wretched remarks by those who should be old enough to know better. To those of you saying that she couldn't have taken those photos or that she couldn't have written her articles, all that's displayed are your own insecurities. Maybe you weren't an articulate, creative child when you were 12. Stop being pathetic and bitter by slamming someone who is.

Anonymous said...

Tavi is a perfect product. The person, who writes her blog and achieves her publicity is very familiar how the fashion medias work. Good directing! Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I'm thirteen too, it isn't hard to write so good.

Don't underestimate young people, I'm telling you, I know plenty of kids my age who are really, really, amazing!

Tavi has really great style, don't look down on her.

Anonymous said...

i'm 13 too,
and i do blog, which my parents don't know (or care) about.
but, yes, you know, this Tavi person is kind of...disturbing and creepy. comment. she's just really weird and i find it hard to believe that she's recognized in the fashion world...

Anonymous said...

Tavi is certainly an interesting young lady. Apart from the obviously precocious nature of her comments, my principal concern for her is the deep cynicism with which she expresses some of her ideas. I wish her the very best, and for my part, I think she has a very unusual, but palpable, kind of beauty that even she doesn't recognize, that no amount of envelope-pushing fashion sense will ever dispel. But I hope she recognizes the value of actually having a childhood, too! Tavi, if you're reading this - you go, girl, but don't forget to be a girl. As a father with two daughters of my own, that is my fervent wish and prayer for you! Don't let the natural cynicism of the fashion world dominate your thinking.

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