At the age of 11, Tavi’s blog Style Rookie was the toast of the Internet, with almost 30,000 readers visiting each day. She also caused a sensation in the fashion industry, swiftly earning front row Fashion Week invitations in New York and Paris. But she hasn’t let fame change her. Despite the fact that she’s been hailed as the voice of the new generation of girls today, Tavi readily admits that she’s “not a terribly confident person” – in other words, she still knows what it’s like to be a normal teenage girl, and she’s okay with that.
Tavi continues to change the game – rather than being satisfied with resting on her laurels, Tavi took on the task of editing Rookie in 2010 – an online magazine for girls that covers everything from finding feminist role models to customising clothes using a bleach pen. Her message is clear: Tavi wants young women to speak out. Rookie Magazine actively encourages its readers to engage with its online community by submitting their own writing, giving young girls a platform where they can have their say. “I hear from a lot of teenage girls about wanting to create things but feeling not good enough, or shy, or not worthy – and I feel like one of my main goals is eliminating that as much as possible,” are Tavi’s words.
On top of securing spots on the Forbes ’30 Under 30′ for two consecutive years in 2011 and 2012, Tavi was also named one of ‘The 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014’ by Time and has since trail-blazed the acting scene by starring in This is Our Youth in Chicago and on Broadway.
Today, hand-in-hand with Margaret Zhang and Hannah Bronfman, Cinique’s new social campaign celebrates the accomplishments of three young global influencers. They’ve made waves in society, challenged the status quo, and proved that anything is possible – so why not take a leaf out of Tavi’s book and #FaceForward?
10 minutes with Tavi: Her honest opinions on beauty, confidence and what inspires her to continue pushing creative boundaries
How did you first get introduced to Clinique?
“I was on a photo shoot a couple of years ago and the makeup artist said, “You need this!” in reference to the Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+. Then I learned it’s sort of iconic, and it’s now a staple in my skin care regimen.”
What’s your typical beauty routine?
“The two things I use no matter what are what I call ‘the yellow lotion’ and black Clinique mascara. I also use Clinique foundation and Chubby Sticks, which I like because the sticks are not as high stress as applying lipstick. My favourite is the Chunkiest Chili because I would pile it on during This is Our Youth on Broadway for my character’s look.”
How has your approach to style and makeup evolved?
“In the beginning, I was really inspired by a lot of theatrical movies and designers, and I’d try to replicate those looks and go to school being super provocative and obnoxious. And I got made fun of; I would just come back the next day and try to look even weirder. Then my creativity transferred into other areas in high school when I become less interested in fashion. Now my style is a little more basic and pared down – I just want to put things on my face that make me feel put together, and wear a comfortable white button down.”
wear what makes you happy. it’s nice to just wear the stuff that makes you feel good, so then you can go about your day and put your energy into making other cool stuff.
When do you feel women look the most beautiful?
“I know it sounds super corny, but you never look at a magazine and say, “They’re beautiful”, you just now, “This is a picture”. When I’m really blown away by a woman’s beauty in a movie, it’s because she’s really giving herself over to the performance and it’s incredibly bold and striking.”
Beauty and fashion offer the opportunity to present a visual version of those feelings, whatever they look like to you.
What attracts you to acting?
“What’s thrilling about acting, especially on stage like that for months and repeating it every night, you end up learning to really have the focus, the energy, to be really present every night. I would struggle and I remember talking to our playwright saying, “How do we keep it fresh? It’s the same thing every night.” And he just said, “No, you’ve never done the show on January 3, 2015 before.” It was an amazing exercise in just learning how to be human, and be present, and accept life since you can’t dwell on any mistakes, and you have to be there for the other actors.”
What makes you feel the most confident?
“When I’ve made something I’m really proud of. I can waste so much time, really holding myself back based on the silliest factors and insecurities, but then I find a way to decide that it doesn’t matter and just focus on what I’m doing in the moment. Even if it isn’t any good, and I don’t show anyone, I’m really proud of this thing I wrote or drew. The things that you do for yourself just to feel more creative or more open-minded – they make me feel like a more confident or a more complete human.”
Who are some of your beauty role models?
“In the last month of the play, I looked at a book of glam rock photography, like David Bowie, and seeing him made me feel stupid for not being more fearless. It made me want to go onstage in a different way. Someone like him is such a role model and even though I don’t do this in my own style, it inspired me how he used beauty and fashion as a medium to expressing something else.”
When do you feel most creative?
“After I’ve really taken in something that someone else has made, and internalized the feeling of wanting someone else to feel that way because of something you’ve made. My mind opens up to the possibilities of what I can create.”
Have your experiences changed the way you look at beauty and what do you define as beautiful?
“My experience of living in the suburbs was about finding pockets of beauty. But now living in New York is like “Oh, everything is really cool here!” That’s part of what I stopped writing everything down, because while in high school and I lived at home, I would latch on to things that made my day because it was really weird, or beautiful, those things are really everywhere here. It’s nice because you don’t have to hoard these little glimmers of hope.”
How do you handle change within your life?
“Every time there’s been a big change in my life the way I get into it or get excited about it is by changing my style. It’s the most literal representation of who you are. It’s the way you look and it’s what helps me deal with change.”
Beauty and fashion have never been a source of anxiety to me. It’s a superpower and it can make you feel different about yourself, and about your place in the world.
Do you feel you’re a risk taker?
“I often forget that my life is one where I’ve taken lots of risks because I’ve honestly been doing creative professional work of some kind from a really young age. I forget that it is sort of crazy to start a magazine when you’re 15, or to be in this play when you’re 18. So when I look back on why I made those decisions, it’s really fun to try something that you don’t know what could happen, you don’t know what you’ll find out about yourself, and you don’t know what it could end up meaning to other people. There’s always that kind of unknown when you’re creating something. You never know how rewarding it could be, so you have to give yourself over to it, and really commit to it.
“The first year of Rookie, I did not sleep at all, and I got horrible grades for the rest of high school. But I felt like I had done this thing that was satisfying for me in this completely different way that schoolwork never was, and that actually ended up helping other people too. So when you take chances like that, there’s risk and there’s fear and compromises, but the thing you find could be so incredible.”
Has being fearful of failure ever stopped you from doing something?
“I’m not a fearless person by any means, but I always find that the fear of holding myself back always outweighs the fear of what could happen by doing something. When we were doing the play in previews, I had just moved, and we went straight into rehearsals and straight into previews. Everyone was asking, “How does it feel to be in a Broadway Play?” but it felt like we were just in a play, our job every day was still just to exist in the world of this writing. Then you add so much extra pressure by talking about reviews, and I had a lot of self-doubt about the whole thing. But that was so outweighed by the fear of not letting myself have this experience, or what I could be keeping myself from it I didn’t decide to just go for it every night.”
To me the fear of what you could be missing out on always outweighs the fear of looking stupid. The worst thing in life is regret.
Do you focus on the pressure to be perfect or beautiful?
“I spent a lot of my teen years and a lot of my writing trying to collect these glimmers of humanity and earnestness and beauty. When the things that you come to see as beautiful are things like that – earnest, human, interesting, nuanced or weird, then it becomes a lot easier to appreciate those things in yourself. So when I look at my friends, I think they’re beautiful because I know them inside out. I become a lot less hard on myself about looking a certain way or being a perfectionist because I realize the things I find beautiful are the things that are weird. Then I know I don’t have to be perfect, or gorgeous, or pretty. I just have to be the same kind of thing that would make me excited about being a human – that’s just being yourself, and it’s great.”
Behind the scenes with Tavi Gevinson for #FaceForward
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