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Tavi’s world: a place of worship and wonder


Tavi’s one of those people known by her first name, like Cher or Beyonce. What you might call an ‘internet sensation’, the teenage school girl found fame through her blog Rookie Style, which she started when she was 11-years-old. Known for her quirky fashion selfies (before selfies were a ‘thing’) and offbeat, irreverent reflections on life, Tavi Gevinson quickly became both a fashion icon and a symbol of her generation.


Tavi by Erica Parrott

Before long she was being invited to sit front row at Paris Fashion Week and faced the wrath and adoration of the establishment all at once. Now 17, and the editor-in-chief of online magazine for teens ROOKIE, Tavi is a wizened media star, but she hasn’t let it get to her head.

With her English teacher Father Steve in the audience of the Melbourne Writer’s Festival on Friday night, Tavi took the crowd of mostly floral-headpiece-wearing youth into her world for her keynote address. She spoke about moments of self-doubt, of knowing her success is entirely derivative and dependent on a myriad of pop culture references anyone could look up up on the internet.

It’s at those times, she said, she’s realised it’s okay to be a “fan girl”. In other words, it’s ok to base your life around the people, movies, songs and experiences you find exude a kind of “strange magic”.  It’s okay to obsessively write out Beyonce lyrics, or take pilgrimages to the Museum of Jurassic Technology (which Tavi’s recently done), or scream at the sight of One Direction and to find magical connections between your experiences and art.

She spoke about how this constitutes her “religion”, her “worship”—the thing that gives her life meaning. Everyone, she says, is a fan girl in some way or another. They might obsess about a person they can’t have a relationship with, or re-watch a particular scene in a movie because it resonates so deeply with their experience. Whatever it is, people revolve their life around things other than themselves, in a kind of self-curating fashion.

Her keynote was an astonishingly honest reflection on the state of the human heart, of its natural bias towards worship, adoration and idealism, a bias most people are unaware of. But I suppose it was her absolute commitment to this process of worship, her “religion”, which stood out. Her journals, which she’d scanned and projected on the festival screen were like maps documenting the obsessions and experiences of her life, ‘aha moments’ painstakingly documented in fine artliner and coloured marker pen. They were beautiful to behold, in the way that seeing anyone’s thoughts swirl when no one is looking is. Seeing the world through Tavi’s eyes is to see the world as a collection of things to curate, to wonder at. The passion and optimism of her vision is infectious. No doubt the take away for many, would’ve been: be passionate, love more, honour more. The question that’s left is: where does this impulse come from?

See more of Tavi’s world in this interview for Stylelikeu:

Illustration by Ericaparrott (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.