New teen-zine site Rookie launched by Tavi Gevinson and Jane Pratt—and it's asgreat as we'd hoped
Online teen lady-zine Rookie (rookiemag.com) launched earlier this week, nearly bringing the internetto a haltas readersof all ages rushed to check out the latest project from ex-Sassy editor Jane Pratt and entrepreneurial blogger Tavi Gevinson.
Billed simply as "a new site for teenage girls,” featured categories include fiction and diaries alongside music, fashion, school, sex and more. There’s also “live through this,” an (aptly referential) compendium of advice for dealing with a wide range of typical teenage angst; what sets Rookie apart is that, unlike most mags that speak to younger women, they ditch the condescension, writing with a clear respect for readers’ intelligence (when others focus on encouraging competition over guys and discouraging you from using the word “vagina,” this is a big deal).
Rookie founder and editor, 15-year old Tavi Gevinson, already runs super-successful blog The Style Rookie, but explains in the new site’s inaugural post that she felt girls like her—who don’t relate to culturally prominent, watered-down versions of teen-dom—needed a new place to share ideas:
When I started thinking about the possibility of Rookie a year or so ago, it seemed like a good venue for pure aesthetic enjoyment and smart, fun writing. As my freshman year of high school progressed, I found myself needing something that could be more than that. I suppose that was a result of some experiences specific to me, and some more typical among females my age.
Gevinson’s adolescence has been a curious mix of the “typical” and the fantastic. In 2008, at age 11, she launched her blog, a fashion-focused site full of photographs, mood boards and collages (imagine if any of the characters from Virgin Suicides had channeled their ennui into art). Almost immediately, the strikingly pretty teen with a fearless sense of style began to attract big-deal fans like Damien Hirst and Rodarte’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy.
Last year, she presented a TED-worthy talk titled “The Unpredictability of Gen Y” at the L2 Generation Next Forum, displaying business acumen and a knack for market analysis that MBA holders should envy.
She’s not the only young style icon out there (see 13-year old Lottie Moss or 10-year old Arlo Weiner), but she’s certainly the most self-made (Moss is Kate’s sister, Arlo is Mad Men royalty). And she’s got what all the cool girls you’ve ever known do: confidence, intelligence and cultural wisdom beyond her years.
A recent New York Times profile notes that, “Despite her age, Gevinson is a connoisseur of ’90s culture; she frequently writes on Style Rookie about the TV series “Daria,” say, or the riot grrrl movement.” (Also awesome: in this week's staff recs post, she plugs the new Hunx and his Punx album.)
“Getting Over Girl Hate,” one of Rookie’s first posts, really exemplifies that kind of content you can expect to see on the site, and the tone of the discussions you’ll be itching to participate in. Written (and illustrated with a helpful chart) by Gevinson, it presents one of the most positive arguments against irrational social paranoia this side of the Jezebel / Hairpin fault line—written by someone at the exact age when "typical" girls’ jealousy-engines really start revving.
Rookie’s not just Gevinson’s site, though; boasting a contributor list featuring 37 ladies (and one intrepid man) from across the globe and representing a wide variety of age groups and writerly backgrounds, there’s certainly diversity. The roster includes Twitter queen Shelby Fero, SNL writer Heather Anne Campbell and Tiger Beatdown blogger Sady Doyle alongside teenagers from New Jersey, England and Canada.
Practically speaking, the site also sets new standards for online magazines, who are increasingly experimenting with ways to differentiate themselves from less formal blogs (it’s, admittedly, a debate and divide that people outside the blogging, design or usability communities aren’t too invested in). Easily navigable, with today’s new pieces prominently displayed, Rookie also posts teasers of upcoming content as far as a month in advance.
“I love the way they've metered out the posts, and listing them on the calendar like they have,” says contributor Emma Straub, a NYC-based writer and graphic designer. “I think it gives the reader a wonderful sense of anticipation. I have two more posts this month, and I immediately looked at the icons for each day in September, to see if I could figure out when they would go up.”
While Rookie likely won’t have any problems attracting readers, the site will certainly (hopefully) serve as a standard-setter for writing and content aimed at younger girls—though, to be honest, at 27 I feel like I connect almost uncannily with the site’s sensibilities, and I have a suspicion that it’s appeal is much more broad than it’s modest tagline.
“The site is for teenage girls, for sure, and a lot of the material is geared that direction,” agrees Straub, “but I think any woman who reads Jezebel or the Hairpin is probably reading Rookie, too. And their boyfriends. And their mothers. I know my mother is.”