16-Year-Old Media Mogul Tavi Gevinson Is Expanding Her Empire

Including online mag Rookie

I get that. It’s like you don’t want to be taken out of the moment you have in your world with your things.

Yeah. In my brain, I know it’s really a nice thing that I can like Taylor Swift and so can millions of other people, and that’s one thing we can all share. But on an emotional level, I’m like, get away!

You like Taylor Swift?
I love Taylor Swift.

I do. I have a 4,000-word guide to my favorite songs of hers that I send to any friend who’s a new Swiftie. I’m very serious about my fandom.

Have you ever written about that for Rookie?
No. I don’t know how to do it. I’m really tired of the conversation about her feminism, but I also know that it wouldn’t be right with the readers we have and with the way we usually deal with things to write about her without addressing that. I will one day, maybe.

There’s so much conversation around whether you can like fashion or read fashion magazines but still be a feminist.
Oh, totally. Sometimes I even still get embarrassed when people are like, “You have that blog, right?” And I worry that they’ll think I’m shallow because I write about fashion, or used to. I definitely think that fashion and feminism can be friends. I even think that fashion can be a tool of feminism and of self-expression and individuality and empowerment. But clearly there are flaws with the industry that still really grind my gears.

So many of Rookie’s cultural touchstones are from the ‘90s—My So-Called Life, Daria, Freaks & Geeks. Do you think there’s any media out there now that resonates with young women the same way that those shows did?
Aesthetically, there’s a lot from the past that resonates, but I actually am really happy to be alive now. I think TV is better than it’s ever been—maybe not teen shows, but I think it’s easier for teens now to watch whatever they want. All of my friends watch Girls or Downton Abbey or The Wire, and they’re ages 15 to 50. I guess a lot of my tastes and Rookie’s are based in nostalgia for things that I’ve never actually experienced, but the good thing about nostalgia is that you can take the parts you like but not necessarily mimic it in every other way. This month, our theme is Age of Innocence, and it’s the kind of aesthetic that has really been reserved for thin white girls when it comes to fashion photography and the stuff that was inspiring us. But that’s why, in our photos, our models will not all be white and skinny. So I guess there’s nostalgia, but we want to do something with it that’s more inclusive or modern.

Obviously it’s a long way away, but as you age out of being a teenager, do you think this is still an audience you’ll want to talk to?
I’ll have to see how I feel then. I will always feel a kind of obligation to these readers, I think, because we’re going through all this at the same time, and they’re going through things that I can’t imagine, and Rookie has somehow been a resource for them. It’s just all really tied into a place in my heart. At the same time, a message of Rookie has been to do what you’re passionate about, and you don’t necessarily owe anyone anything, so I think if I get out of college or if I even start college and I think, “I want to study neurology…”

Are you planning to go to college when you graduate from high school?
Yeah. I’m taking a gap year but I’m going to college.

I remember reading a profile of [Sea of Shoes blogger] Jane Aldridge where she said something like, “What’s the point in going to college? I’ve got the career that I want.” When you’re a teenager and successfully blogging, is college even important?
I mean, I really like Jane, so I don’t mean for this to be in contrast to what she said, but first of all, you don’t go to college for fashion blogging, and second of all, there are too many things I’m curious abut, too many things I want to learn.

What do you think is next for Rookie?
I want to put out a total of four yearbooks [annual best-of-Rookie compilations in print] so that there will be one for every year of high school. In a way, I can’t imagine ever not deciding themes and stuff. At the same time, the tone is there. I don’t need to go in and be like, “Please don’t use this clichéd phrase.” So I think if I were to go off to college and go into my own head a little bit, Rookie would be in good hands. I wouldn’t be OK leaving it if it wasn’t. But I don’t think I’ll ever leave it fully.

Outside of Rookie and going to school, do you even have time for a personal life?
Yeah! After I get off the phone with you, my boyfriend’s coming over [laughs]. I just don’t really have time to slack off, which is fine, because I feel really unhappy when I’m idle or when I procrastinate. Everything that I do is either something that I love or necessary to doing something that I love. There’s a lot of decision making, but for the most part, I’ve kind of figured out a way to do everything I want without exhausting myself.

That’s pretty impressive.
The thing is, I think I have it down right now, but something’s going to change, like, tomorrow, and I’m going to have to figure it all out all over again.

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