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?
One of my favorite quotes about fashion comes from the writer Lester Bangs, who said, “style is originality; fashion is fascism.” I think of this quote whenever a particularly nauseating fashion trend takes the world by storm and dresses it in pleated pants.
When it comes to fashion, I’m all about comfort. I’m also all about hating new trends, and then quietly buying into some of them several months after they’ve peaked and gone out of style, and can be purchased in thrift stores. I like to call this Cheap, Poor and Lazy Chic. Still, there are many trends I steer clear of—including the resurgence of trends I didn’t understand to begin with (high-waisted jeans, I’m staring in your utterly unacceptable direction).
I dreaded the Dawn of the Formal Short, for one thing. If you are lucky enough to have shapely legs that go one for miles, you might while wearing formal shorts manage to give the impression that you are an attractive girl wearing unfortunate shorts. And really, that is the BEST outcome you can possibly hope for when wearing such shorts. Meanwhile normal girls with average sized and shaped legs have to walk around looking like Gumby.
Another unfortunate trend I can’t stand? Belts that appear to be keeping your breasts from sliding down your ribs. I have no problem with putting a belt around your natural waist—which I realize can be quite far above your hips. But I’m fairly sure it’s also at least a few inches below your breasts. I’m just saying. Pull your damn belt down. You look like you’re trying to cinch in your ribs—and I thought we were past all that.
So it was with great trepidation and fear that I learned from Jillian of the potential come-back of The Scrunchie. Why, fashion world—WHY? I feel like I’m in the movie Groundhog Day, except instead of reliving the same day over and over again, I’m reliving the same regrettable fashion trends that vanished—for a reason!—into the ages and the closets of so many regretful trend-followers so long ago. Although, come to think of it, I have the feeling that the film Groundhog Day may itself have promoted The Deadly Scrunchie. But don’t blame Andie MacDowell—she does have a ton of hair. I understand the function of the scrunchie; the soft material was perfect for wrapping around your wrist while you waited for your turn to play kickball. The fabric patterns on scrunchies offered a great variety of self-expression, which is unmatched by the thin, dull elastic. I believe I had one scrunchie in day-glo yellow with peace signs on it—which was a perfect reflection of the point in my life that I was at in the seventh grade. But I think we can all agree that the scrunchie’s day is done. Let us wrap it around the wrist of history. You can never go home again.