Thursday, August 1, 2013

Youth is beauty, beauty is youth

Me in the backseat with my Wild Heart banner. Vintage dress, banner from Nice on Etsy.
I'll never be seventeen again. And thank G-O-D, or whomever, because my teens, or even early twenties were not my finest years. But that doesn't stop me from appreciating The New Girl Order, who's main ambassador Tavi Gevinson and her online magazine project Rookie most certainly are a rare wonderful thing.

More zine-making.
Do you read Rookie? Well if you don't, you should.
Why? Because as much inspiration and beauty as the internet offers these days, there's a rare place that makes you feel as good about the world as Rookie does. It's not just pretty, it's empowering.

  Flower crown making at Strange Magic.
While I'm not nostalgic for my teens (Well, maybe a little.), I can't help but wonder how much better they would have been if something like Rookie had existed to tell me that everything I did was cool, that I could do whatever I wanted to, that girlhood was awesome, that I had power.

And yes, I know my American peers had Rookie's role model Sassy, but you think it was available in the boonies of the frozen North where I grew up? No.
Hazel in her Hunx tee and ASOS skirt.
The closest think I found to empowerment was making zines, hanging out with other environmentalist nerds and that Bikini Kill album the old (he was like, at least twenty!), weird library intern dude introduced me to.
Me singing and playing guitar in Portland. (Here's a video of the same thing from Omaha.) Dress from Urban Outfitters.
My teen life would have been so different if I'd known other "weirdos", zine-makers, Twin Peaks enthusiasts, movie fans, vintage lovers, book nerds...
At the Twin Peaks diner in Washington! I am wearing a vintage dress and saddle shoes in honor of Audrey Horne. Also, I don't know if you can see, but I stuck a red Hunx comb in my sock, too.
Hazel at a gas station. That Love's logo is so killer.
Hazel with the important accessory of pizza.
Not only does Rookie make you smile because its joie de vivre, its utterly unassuming charm, but the magazine's articles about feminism, privilege, health and culture, are right up there with the best of them, its music, pop culture and style recommendations trump those of actual magazines (and by actual magazines I mean, like Bust), its irreverent attitude is contagious no matter your age.

Just as we all contain all of our past selves at all times, as I near middle age (Newsflash! Your 40s used to be the middle age.), the young girl within me still resonates with the joy, confusion, utter loneliness and longing apparent in these images.
From a trailer park hotel we went to in Joshua Tree. Vintage dress.
The New Girl Order seems like something I've waited for a long time, not just a celebration of being a girl, but a culture. A place where girls feel safe in expressing themselves honestly.
About to go for a lake swim. Vintage dress and purse.
Beautiful Big Sur.

Because if they get there that much sooner than I did, I can't wait to see what kind of women they grow into.
Smart, confident, radical, content, courageous, gorgeous, aware.  It's about time.
Entering the California Redwoods...

Youth is just a fleeting moment. Like all things, there's no point clinging to it once it's past, but when you're in it you should be able to rejoice it. In adulthood, I feel blessed to be surrounded by rad girls from all sides, have some small part of that enormous transformation. Not only are they such a joy, but they make me feel so old, in a good way.

And hey, maybe I'll be a cool "aunt" and send them a link to Rookie. (Disclaimer: all attempts at being a cool aunt are probably doomed.)
Me with Olivia's boyfriend's gorgeous horses at his family's farm we stayed at in Portland. Vintage dress.

Youth, beauty, adulthood? Just a few wild horses to tame.


  1. Wow, I am so impressed with this movement to empower young women...and I'm the same - not really nostalgic for my teen years, either (such misery). My good friend's daughter is 17 right now, and seeing the things she's going through (such fractured identity!) reminds me how challenging it is for young women - ESPECIALLY in this age dominated by social media (I thought we had it tough). I seriously dig what this magazine stands for - would love to get my hands on a copy! (Maybe I could even give it to my friend's daughter!)


  2. I occasionally pop over to Rookie, I find Tavi fascinating. cannot believe how young and accomplished she is. (But she is also an exception to the rule right) I can't help wondering if all the yuck and confusion and alienation many teenage girls feel - is partly due to bad wiring of our brains at that time of life, and a consequence of life. Do you think the girls in the pictures actually privately feel any more empowered than peer-males or other girls? I'm not sure, but hope so. Our insecurities and worries aren't just a product of whichever current society they girls live's a culmination of so much more. Parenting, information, hormones; adolescence is a developmental stage, bounding from childhood to some weird semblance of adulthood that you aren't actually allowed to participate in. I like that Rookie is about empowerment for girls; we need more of this.
    I worry for my pre-teen boy though too. Boys have the same amount of pressure and mixed messages, but it is different. Boys.They go to classrooms where staffing is female dominant. Their dads are more likely to be working, so their main adult contact is female, during the day and night. Playfighting is banned in many primary-schools here; (boys typically release energy by enthusiastic pretend fight play - they are energised by it), co-ed high schools favour female learning styles, and parents encourage their boys to aim for desk bound high earning jobs. Although they are still in the highest positions of power, they have lost alot of what it means to essentially be male. (I know I'm totally summarising and have nothing to back this up, it's just what I see and hear in my own community bubble). I'm expecting a rough ride as my babes head into their teenage years, I just want to remember that I'm there to guide them, not change them, and to be as honest and open as possible. x

    1. Actually, I've just gone and had my own tirade there haven't I, and completely missed the point of your post. My social awkwardness knows no bounds, sorry my friend, I didn't mean to do that. x

    2. I love your rant T! You're so spot on about what's so wrong with our school system. I think it actually short-changes all kids, girls and boy equally but differently. The very idea that a "good child" sits still for 5-8 hours a day bar small intervals of play, free social interaction, or artistic/physical expression, is absurd. Gosh, being a parent there's so much to worry about.

      I do feel like the current girl culture is much more empowering than the one I grew up in. Just in terms of societal expectations and ideas of what girls "can'' and "can't" do, there's a lot more freedom. It's just a small change, but it still makes me happy. And I do feel like young women with positive, feminist, empowered role-models are more likely to survive the rocky years of teenagehood with more integrity and grace and dare I say it...happiness.

      Rant on!

  3. WOW I must check this out right now! It feels like I was not seventeen so long ago, though next week I turn thirty-one. Now I have daughters who I hope to raise to be empowered, wild, free - but man, we are up against so much - the barrage of Disney Princess grossness is overwhelming. As a mother it terrifies me! I feel like I'm constantly battling this glittery magenta monster. I was grateful for Sassy back in the 90's - it was so honest and gritty and fun and real. I feel so lucky to have been able to soak up that luxury. It got me through a lot and it's heartening to see that spirit carrying on. Time for some revolution girl-style now! :)

    Your teenage years sound much like mine, making zines, enviro-geekiness, and TWIN PEAKS! Oh my - did I see a photo back there in front of the Mar-T Cafe?!!? Swoon!!

    I actually lived in North Bend for much of my youth...WHILE they were filming Twin Peaks there. Omigod, it was epic.

  4. I LOVE Rookie and Tavi is such an inspiration. I think having things like this and the internet would have been amazing for me as a teenager. Just seeing people making art who are the same age as you instead of just books about famous artist that were/are wonderful but so far removed from myself. It would have been INCREDIBLE and I'm sure I would have made much more art at a much younger age. But I'm also grateful that the internet is there NOW because I wouldn't be able to make a living with art without it.

    The older I get the less I feel that age matters and that especially for women it's a horrible social construct making us feel like we're 'too old' or that it's 'too late' to do whatever we want. I'm just as inspired by Tavi who does so much being so young as by people like Lisa Congdon who started making their art later in their lives. I know too many people who don't dare to do what they want with their lives because they're past a certain age.

    As everyone is getting older, shouldn't 50 count as middle age now? I don't think I'll consider myself middle-ages before 50, if ever. :-)

  5. Amazinggggg! I love Rookie, and have been reading since its inception (I'm 29, and so much of the website is still pertinent to me) - although I did read a bit of Sassy when I was a teenager, I just think that what Tavi and Rookie are doing is incredible. I'm so genuinely glad that teenaged women have this website. Thanks so much for posting it and reaffirming my idea that it's amazing! I just feel like it captures this feeling that you have at that age, when you are trying to figure out who you are and what you like - you are filled with contradictions (myself, I enjoyed listening to hardcore punk, but I also sang Cyndi Lauper and Joni Mitchell in my room - wanted to wear dresses one day and giant jeans the next). I feel like Rookie allows young women of that age to just like what they like and to feel good about it.
    At almost 30 I'm only reaching that point in my life now, where I feel comfortable with myself.

    xo Erika

  6. kiitos tästä!
    Tällä hetkellä yhden Tyttären ja kohtapuoleen kahden tyttären äitinä näitä asioita miettii aikalailla.
    Jo ihan pienten lasten kohtelussa on niin hasuja eroja,esim. pojille tuntemattomat alkavat helpommin puhua jostain aktiivisesta tekemistä,kun taas tytöille keskustelu aloitetaan kehumalla jotain vaatetta tai tytön omaa sievyyttä jne...
    Saan itse aina herneitä nenään,kun tyttölapsia kielletään tekemästä jotain,ettei vaatteet likaantuisi tai katsotaan kieroon,jos tytöt kiipeilevät puissa tai kiipeilytelineissä "vääriin" suuntiin yms.
    Meillä oli sellainen pieni punk henkinen tyttö yhteisö,joten sillälailla selvisin ehkä helpommalla,yhteisön paineista teininä.

  7. I love Tavi; I've been following her for years. It is so great to see her amazing girl power not get crushed by her teen years; she is in fact flourishing to new heights!

    On the other hand, she really makes me feel like I am not doing anything haha. So young and so driven and accomplished...she is a special young woman who is really going to make a difference. I agree with you in that it is going to be really interesting to see how these young women end up after all of this creative support.

  8. looks cool! i don't know anything about her or rookie so i look forward to checking it out.

    i not going to pretend that my teenage years (i'm speaking high school here) weren't awesome, because they really were. i had a lot of freedom and boy did i take advantage of it. and considering i got pregnant at 19 i'm VERY thankful for those few blissful free years. i always felt like i didn't fit in, but then again i liked it that way. my freshman year i really tried to be like everyone else, it sucked. but the next year i met some kindred spirits and it was great. i attribute a lot of my confidence in those years to the fact that i was very strong in my decision to remain a virgin. once i lost that (after high school) i found i was MUCH more insecure. anyway, there's a tidbit of my life :)