The Feministing Five: Tavi Gevinson

Tavi Gevinson is a fashion and style blogger whose great eye for clothes and youthful but preternaturally mature voice have taken the fashion world by storm.

Tavi started blogging about fashion and style at the age of 11. Now 15, she still writes about those things, and in a thoughtful and entirely un-frivolous way, but she’s also begun blogging about gender, and culture, and what it means to be a young woman both inside the fashion world and out. Last month, she reflected on how people’s perception of her has changed – and how, in turn, her self-perception has changed – since she switched from glasses to contact lenses. Reflecting on beauty privilege, something that those who move in the fashion world should be compelled to think about more often, she wrote,

People who are conventionally attractive have the privilege of going through life knowing their appearance will usually not act as a barrier in accomplishing what they want to accomplish. Of course, this is a general statement, but typically, Pretty Woman does not have to worry about missing out on opportunities because of her appearance. (Pretty Woman also gets Richard Gere.) So when some people have to live with being judged based on appearance as well as or instead of merit, it would be really annoying for someone who doesn’t have to worry about that as much to try to say she deals with the same thing.

She then directed her readers to a great feminist explanation of other ways that beauty privilege works. As her writing suggests, as Tavi grows up (she’s heading into her sophomore year of high school now), she is getting deeper into feminism. And, her feminism is clearly influencing her work and choice of projects: she has teamed up with former Sassy editor Jane Pratt to launch a new zine later this year, is working on a book with Feministing Fiver Marisa Meltzer, and she continues to blog and talk about how feminism and fashion interact.

And now, without further ado, the Feministing Five, with Tavi Gevinson.

Chloe Angyal: What made you start identifying as a feminist, and how does your feminism affect your passion for fashion and style?

Tavi Gevinson: Like many people, I think I was a feminist for a long time before I started calling myself one. But I think it was because I noticed that friends of mine who had fashion blogs identified as feminists and were outspoken about it, which somehow made it cooler to me, since I’d never really seen feminism in the form of like, actually calling it that thought of as cool. Then I read the book Girl Power by Marisa Meltzer and it was like, oh, definitely, duh.

Feminism affects my passion for style in the ways it makes me want to explore less conventional ways of dressing and see the desire to have fun with clothes as creative and in favor of individualism, not as a reinforcement of beauty standards.

CA: Who is your favorite fictional heroine, and who are your heroines in real life?

TG: I love Pippi Longstocking, Enid Coleslaw, Lydia Deetz, Audrey Horne…so many! In real life, my mom, a couple amazing teachers I’ve had…Miranda July really inspires me for never limiting herself to being one thing.

CA: What recent news story made you want to scream?

TG: Well, the 2nd most popular trending topic on Twitter right now is #ReasonsToBeatYourGirlfriend, which elicits both a scream and an eyeroll.

CA: What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge facing feminism today?

TG: Hefty question! I’m truthfully not sure I’m qualified to answer. I basically see feminism, right now, as a spectrum that’s personal on one end and political on the other. At the moment my passion seems to lie more in exploring the personal side, I think because I’m a teenager and so many aspects of the personal side of the spectrum seem especially prevalent at my age — beauty insecurity, the virgin/whore dichotomy, girl hate and jealousy, and just what it means to find your voice and, as a woman, own and value it even when it’s less welcomed. So it’s things like these I like to explore, and would like to start a conversation about with a site for teen girls I’m launching in September.

CA: You’re going to a desert island, and you’re allowed to take one food, one drink and one feminist. What do you pick?

TG: I would take Fruit Roll Ups, Nesquik, and my best friend.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at chloesangyal.com

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

    She does mention that it’s a general statement, and it should also be noted that in some arenas of life Pretty Woman may have to contend with the hostilities and projections of both other women and men, or be assumed to automatically be stupid or arrogant based on her appearance. From the entry it sounds like she may be aware of that or on her way to finding out though.

    Also props for using “Enid Coleslaw” on the fictional heroine list – knowing her last name tells me she read the graphic novel and not just saw the movie!

  • gothicguera

    What a charming young woman! I first read about her I was just so impressed and I know she is going to accomplish so much!

  • http://feministing.com/members/toongrrl/ toongrrl

    I love this girl! I marvel at how knowledgeable and hip she is. Also that she knows what “Sassy” magazine is and has a collection of it! I knew about “Sassy” from reading the “Baby-Sitters’ Club”! Can’t wait for her new zine with Jane Pratt!

  • http://feministing.com/members/skjaere/ Molly Driftwood

    Oh, wow! I only wish I had been this sharp and self-aware at fifteen — or even at twenty-five! I’m 32 now, and I still feel like I have a ways to go before I catch up with Ms. Gevinson.

  • http://feministing.com/members/gem75/ Gem

    “CA: What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge facing feminism today?

    TG: Hefty question! I’m truthfully not sure I’m qualified to answer.”

    And let’s just leave it at that, shall we?

    • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

      I don’t know honestly that we can single out one, especially when you look at all the different challenges women may face globally.

    • http://feministing.com/members/arose/ Allison

      Then who, pray tell, is qualified to answer? Kind of sounds like adultism to me.