News__ STYLE ROOKIE BACKLASH

December 11, 2009 | By

Tavi of Style Rookie. You know her, right? The 13-year-old fashion blogger who, in a mere 18 months, went from posting self-portraits reminiscent of Vogue spreads on her personal blog to posing for the cover of POP herself. She's kind of a big deal now. She recently got to report on New York Fashion Week for Harper's Bazaar. She's the magazine's youngest contributor. She's famous. She's thirteen. She's already pissing people off.

Not that she wasn't pissing people off before. All bloggers are annoying. But this time she has crept under the skin of more than just a few anonymous commenters. She's ruffling the feathers of Elle's Anne Slowey and Huffington Post's longtime contributing editor, Lesley M.M. Blume. Both women have mentioned that even though they appreciate Tavi's fresh, interesting and youthful critique of the current fashion world, Harper's decision to hire her to report was "gimicky." She is a "novelty." Tavi's reporting will be used to sell issues and not trends to buyers. "I don’t think she’s a fashion sage, I think she’s a novelty and I think she’s going to be used as a marketing device as a novelty," said Blume in New York Magazine. Even Jezebel pointed out that some critics have been undermining Tavi's writing ability, saying that the work she did on her blog must have been aided by an adult.

"A lot of people are going to read this [issue of Harpers Bazaar]. Is this a smart marketing move? Of course," Blume told New York Magazine. "I think [Tavi is] very dear, but I think it’s crazy. I think it was insulting enough when we were expected as adult women to take our fashion cues from Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. All of a sudden women in the fashion world were starting to look like bag ladies. I mean, that’s very silly."

This whole backlash from fashion's mothers could very easily be equated to a scenario we have seen before: the old are replaced by the young. Clean house. Fresh start. Youth, youth, youth. But the Tavi-Blume-Slowey sitch isn't quite as cut and dry. Harper's let Tavi write what? A 500 word blog post about fashion week? It's not like they gave her health care benefits and an office with a view. Regardless, the feeling behind the anger may pack some interesting punch.

In a time where the American government is considering implementing a "Bo-Tax" law (to tax people who undergo unnecessary plastic surgery 5%) and companies like Ralph Lauren will photoshop their models into ridiculous twigs, maybe it could seem a little threatening to have an uneducated, inexperienced, young, beautiful sensation like Tavi taking the job of an old pro. Not to mention, that the sheer ideal of her physical youth reflects the stress that the middle-class, working women of the fashion industry (or any industry for that matter) feel about their own physicality.

Perhaps Tavi represents something that annoys women like Blume and Slowey. It makes sense. Imagine you went into work tomorrow and your boss told you that they hired a twelve-year-old to start at the job you did when you were twenty-two. But now imagine that your boss said she was only interning for the week and if she worked out, she'd be back to start next Spring. After all, she only got a 500 word project.

Tavi's rise to fame is innocent. She made a fashion blog and it got popular. She didn't mastermind some plot to take over fashion week. I'm sure she can't believe people even care. So probably Showey and Blume's anger should be towards the companies that hired Tavi, and not Tavi herself.

Maybe next Spring Tavi will end up a regular contributor to Harper's? Maybe she'll get to cut Karl Lagerfeld's birthday cake? Or maybe, one day she'll replace Anna Wintour? (Creepy how they kind of look alike?) Who knows. But the Tavi Backlash is interesting and stirs many questions that reach far beyond the pages of a fashion magazine.

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