MOLLY SCHOEMANN: The consequences of an internet-driven meteoric rise to overnight celebrity are still unclear. It’s only in the last few years that more people have begun achieving international fame and recognition almost overnight thanks to the power of the internet, so as of yet there is no way to project the effects of such an event on an individual ten or twenty years down the line. The seven year old from the overwhelmingly popular YouTube video ‘David After Dentist’ seems to be doing all right, but he could be one of the lucky ones.
Anyway, forget him. Now we have Tavi, and she’s adorable! She’s a good writer! She loves fashion and has cute hair and a messy room! She’s everyone’s favorite fresh new voice in the blogging world, an overnight sensation who spent fashion week attending coveted shows in New York City. And she’s thirteen years old.
What is going on here? Have we fully regressed? Has our culture’s increasingly absurd youth-worship reached a fever-pitch? What does a thirteen year old girl have to teach us, or the fashion industry, and why has she become so well-known and in such high demand in such a short amount of time? Why are fashion insiders patronizingly acting as though they are her peers? What does this say about them? And why does the whole thing make me feel so icky?
Part of it is the sudden and inexplicable embrace of a young woman who still has so much ahead of her. Yes, at thirteen Tavi is a talented writer and has intelligent opinions and a fresh voice. But like all young teenagers, she’s only beginning down the path to figuring out who she is as a person and who she would like to be. I’m not saying that path is fun, but it’s something we all go through as we discover more about ourselves and grow into adults. But maybe not. As she grows, will Tavi discover that her early fame has frozen her in time, arresting her development as a teenager by pinning her in the spotlight as a precocious thirteen year old?
Now that the adult fashion world has embraced her as one of their own, does it mean Tavi is an adult? Where can she possibly go from here, now that, as Stylecaster.com observes regarding her trip to Tokyo, “Our favorite little fashion blogger…is finally getting her dream come true.” Never mind the ridiculous use of the word ‘finally’ in reference to someone who is thirteen years old. Has she reached the highest point in her career at this premature stage?
What if Tavi starts breaking out and gaining weight as she moves into adolescence? Dating boys, craving privacy, defying her parents? Being a normal teenager? Can she do this, and maintain the persona that has been created for her by her fans and promoters in the fashion industry? Will she feel that she is moving forward if she matures and changes and grows? Or will she feel that she is instead moving further and further away from the Tavi that her fans know and love? Look at the models on the runway and tell me that the world of fashion is flexible and embraces change, growth, and maturity. As a thin, pretty, charming and very young woman, Tavi currently represents an ideal that many fashion designers worship. But will they give her room to grow?