The Trouble With Tavi?

Is Tavi becoming a case of too-much, too-soon?

The latest news: The 13-year-old blogger has been “hired” by Harper’s Bazaar to write copy for its January issue, which would seem like the magazine is treating the teen fashion blogger as an ingénue. Other editors, however, are taking issue with this move. Huffington Post style editor Lesley Blume tells New York magazine’s The Cut, “I think she’s very dear, but I think it’s crazy,” while Anne Slowey of Elle calls her “gimmicky.”

So what’s going on here? Is Tavi being taken advantage of? Or is her entrée into a career just exposing the world of fashion journalism for what it is? Here are our thoughts and feelings … 1. Yes, Tavi is entering a territory where she’s being used as a marketing device—nothing sells more than the unlikely heroine. And part of the unfortunate fascination comes from wanting to see where she’ll end up. As Blume says, “Worst-case scenario she ends up overwhelmed and messed up, but no one can predict that.” Wow, that’s a pretty harsh prediction. Yet, for those seeing Tavi’s fate of being a victim, no one’s considering that there’s real ambition behind the kid. Tavi’s smart. We doubt she’s not aware of her consumer relationships. If she wants this, she’ll buy into the marketing cycle and be OK in knowing she’s a gimmick.

2. At the same time, she’s a kid, so perhaps publications shouldn’t be “putting her to work.” (No matter how irresistible the offer is.) Interview her and follow her blog, nudging her to do what she was originally doing—being part of the audience.

3. The world of “fashion writing” is hardly a place where talent gets the gig. It’s about luck in landing an entry-level job, working your way up, being able to report and construct sentences, and knowing the business. (Or being a socialite.) If some style editors are offended by Tavi’s words being taken seriously, it seems to us (knowing how rehashing and editing goes down at a magazine) a bit ridiculous—what do you bet that any 30-year-old staffer could write the same thing and no one would turn a head? It’s important to realize that the writing of Tavi’s that you’ll read in a magazine will be, like most other work on those pages, the words of three different editors who completely changed a piece because that’s just what they do. Blume and Slowey are judging Tavi based on her supposed professional abilities (or, in their minds, lack thereof). We think in a situation like this, giving this kind of work to a 13-year-old, would make it impossible to tell anything anyhow. [The Cut]