Tavi Gevinson, the teenage fashion blogger and budding media mogul, has launched her new online magazine for adolescent girls. Rookie is here, it has a cool vintage-y design, and the first issue features contributions from big names like Sady Doyle, Dan Savage, Joss Whedon, and Zooey Deschanel. There are a handful of articles so far, from a roundup of different adults recounting their first year of high school to a back-to-school fashion editorial featuring girls who are impossibly chic for high-schoolers. Overall, Rookie looks to be miles ahead (aesthetically and substance-wise) of most media targeted towards teenage girls.
What strikes us as a little weird — though not surprising — is that Rookie is getting so much attention from adults, who have their own publications to read already. Tavi is rightly the subject of a New York Times Magazine piece and a New York Q&A, and she’s clearly more than capable of dealing with adults on or beyond their level, but the fact remains that Rookie is not for adults — it’s for kids.
Which is something Gevinson has tried to make clear, e.g. telling The Cut that “I’m not going to be writing about, like, ‘So, you know that thing when you’re a teenage girl and you go to Fashion Week and this happens?’ ‘Yeah, me too, let’s talk about it!’ Not only do I not want to write that, but no one will want to read it.” In other words, Gevinson wants average teenage girls to read this website. The fact that the media world watching closely is besides the point, because what really matters to Rookie’s success is how well it lands with its demographic. We’re hoping that media grownups don’t spoil this thing, since it’s marketed in such cool ways towards the high school crowd. It’s not even publishing on a traditional blog schedule. Instead, it will update three times a day: after school, dinnertime, and before bed.
As someone who remembers well what it was like to be in that demographic, this blogger can say that it would have been a real boon if Rookie had been around between about 2004 to 2008. Our experience of teenage girl media was limited to friends’ copies of Seventeen and Teen Vogue, both of which have made a business of implicitly encouraging the same message as that J.C. Penney t-shirt. So far, Rookie looks to be a lot smarter than that.