Tavi to a T: Style Rookie profiled (finally) by NYT, outed by AP

style rookie

Long time, no Tavi update. After already doing three posts on the 12 year-old fashion blogger behind Style Rookie, frockwriter thought we’d give it a rest for a mo. But events dictate an update: a case in point, the much-touted New York Times T magazine feature on tween bloggers which was published yesterday.

Here’s the link to Elizabath Spiridakis’ feature ‘Post adolescents: Tween bloggers’ which profiles Tavi, alongside three other teen bloggers - and alludes to an additional two blogs.

It's unclear if Tavi is the only blogger younger than 15.

Beyond a fleeting mention of these young bloggers not being bothered by anonymous haters, it’s an upbeat, uncritical story.

But then, T is a fashion publication and as Spiridakis herself pointed out in her comment on frockwriter, she is employed at The New York Times as an art director, and not apparently as a journalist.

This is in spite of the fact that Spiridakis writes a sub-blog for nytimes.com’s The Moment blog (in addition to her own independent blog, White Lightning).

The T story had been in the pipeline for months. However as frockwriter pointed out in our third, and last, post on Tavi – and as Spiridakis herself concedes in the above-linked comment - New York magazine scooped T when it ran a profile on Tavi on July 22nd.

Last week the Associated Press went one better with a story written by Amanda Kwan called ‘Girls who blog: Innocent fun or potential danger?’ which has since been widely published in the US.

The August 12th AP story discusses the potential dangers for child bloggers – in the same breath, outing Tavi’s real identity and location.

Tavi’s real name is evidently Tavi Gevinson and her family lives in xxx, xxx.

This will presumably make it much easier for kiddie fiddlers to find them.

The story also notes of Tavi:

“To some wary adults, she's in a world where she doesn't belong”.

And introduces Parry Aftab, an internet privacy/security-specialist lawyer who is the executive director of wiredsafety.org, who notes:

"Parents have no idea what their kids are doing online. Most parents have no idea what a blog is."

This certainly appears to apply to Tavi’s father, Steve Gevinson, who reveals that he was not “fully aware” that his daughter was blogging until she sought permission to appear in The New York Times magazine story.

Steve Gevinson also reveals that, following the New York magazine blog post on Tavi – which prompted, as we reported, a blogging backlash again New York mag journalist Jessica Coen, who questioned Tavi’s age and savvy – Tavi was upset by some of the snarky comments by readers who agreed with Coen.

One assumes that Tavi might not have been so upset by the attention per se – because in information that has emerged elsewhere, Tavi is also part of a children’s theatre group and played the lead role in a recent production,

Tavi is no shrinking violet, in other words.

Gevinson told AP:

"She slept in the bed with us that night to get back to sleep. [The next night] She woke up, and again woke us up, and said - and this is really heartbreaking - 'I just woke up crying and I don't even know why I'm crying."'

The wiredsafety.org rep believes that haters/anonymous cyber bullies are one good reason why children should not be blogging.

The story also provides tips for parents who suspect that their kids might be blogging. These include:

- Encouraging children to write posts with another person (read adult), in the room.
- Ensuring that photos don’t have any personally identifiable information.
- Educating yourself about the net.

The childrens’ theatre connection may partially explain why some of Tavi’s images are so entertaining. Blogging, at its best, is part confessional, part standup comedy and Tavi appears to be a natural performer.

If Steve Gevinson is, as reported, an English teacher, then that may also help to explain why Tavi is so articulate for her age.

One thing about which I am still unclear however is the quality of Tavi’s photos. This is one of the chief reasons why I initially found it hard to believe her story.

With the exception of the series which appear with Tavi's first post following the NY mag brouhaha - in which she poses against a backdrop of newspaper clippings, with a type headline which reads, 'Between the lines' and even takes a bow in one shot (above) - most of the images that Tavi has since published look like those taken by your typical amateur photographer.

Some of the original shots, which I reproduced for the purposes of news and review – including the original Style Rookie masthead, which showed a shot of Tavi with some artfully-arranged type (but which has since been changed) – looked almost professionally art directed.

Call it beginner’s luck.