Last week I read two long articles about two young female “creators” who are the talk of the young-adult town – both in The New York Times.
First there was this one – Emma Koenig’s So-Called Redacted Life – about Emma Koenig – the NYU bred blogger/Vampire Weekend little sister/latest 20-something with a TV deal. She is 24 and now lives in Los Angeles with her new boyfriend. Her fame is attributed to the tumblr Fuck! I’m In My 20’s – a collection of her own hand-drawn musings on life as a post-grad, pre-adult.
At the right is a sample post:
Then there was this one – The Oracle of The Girl World – about Tavi Gevinson – the middle school fashion blogger turned front row fashion show staple turned EIC of her own web magazine. She is 16 and still lives with her parents in an Illinois suburb. Her fame is attributed to invention of “granny style” (she actually dyed her hair grey/blue) and being phenom of the fashion world status.
Below is a sample post from her blog, a collection of styled self-portraits paired with essays on young adult life:
These are obviously two different girls with two different goals. One wants to write/act. The other want to write/style. One’s voice is grounded in humor, the other’s is grounded in the undefinable stuff of a John Hughes movie. So it’s not entirely fair to compare them because they’d never compare themselves, and yet after reading those two pieces last week I thought – THAT is the difference between the hot, 20-something content creators of New York Times fame. (note: Tavi is only 16 but should be looped into the 20-something group because she has been roughly 35 her entire life)
Emma Koenig’s blog is about all the things inside a 24-year-old girl’s head. They sport lines like, “dear schmuck” and “a conversation with myself” and “why are you crying today.” There is no doubt that capture real feelings shared by countless people between the ages of 18 and…35, frankly. There is also no doubt that she puts those feelings into words very creatively. But at the end of the day they are just dozens and dozens of feelings put to paper in clever ways. There is little to no action.
Tavi Gevinson’s blog is a collection of outfits she creates from thrift store finds then wears in a series of high fashion-style self portraits. She loves style so she finds clothes, creates outfits and makes beautiful pictures of them. She also creates vision boards (see below) and then writes about what they mean to her current life. If she’s feeling dark or frustrated it may be images from The Craft with fashion photographs from Marc Jacobs late 90s line and a picture of her wearing dark black eyeliner. It will be followed by an essay about moving on from a bad day.
Are both self-involved, sort of. Are both “in their own little world,” yes. But in my mind the difference between Emma and Tavi is that one is actually doing something she loves and the other is just ruminating over all the confusing things in her head.
At the end of the day Emma has a book for sale at Urban Outfitters containing all her adorable drawings and thoughts. She’s also close to closing a deal for a TV series based on her life. Oh, and that New York Times article.
Tavi Gevinson is currently on a national tour with Rookiemag.com meeting girls (and boys) across the country for essay readings, music performances, and pink cupcakes. Thousands of teens and young adults show up at the events to share their stories and meet online friends for the first time. In September she’ll head to New York Fashion Week for all the top shows. She used to be invited because she was an adorable anomaly. Now she’s invited because her coverage of the shows is better written and read than most things the top magazines write. She doesn’t have a book deal, no TV production companies are after her, and she parted from Sassy/Jane creator Jane Pratt so she could have full control over her website. Also, the New York Times has been covering her since she was 12.
All (I think) I’m saying is – there’s a difference between saying things and doing things. Emma Koenig says interesting things that have made her very popular, but after all the doodles, who is she really? What is she doing? What does she want? What is her real point of view on life? A picture of the difference between “friend” and “girlfriend” is clever, but what comes after that?
Tavi Gevinson is a creator, yes, but she is also a wildly distinct voice with much more on her mind than whether or not online dating is a waste of time. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t – she’s too busy editing a 13-year-old freelance writer’s essay on growing up Muslim in America to worry about it.
I’m Team Tavi. How about you?