Portrait of Teenage Celebrity Tavi Gevinson


Tavi Gevinson was born  April 21, 1996 in Oak Park, Illinois. Her father Steven Gevinson is a retired English high school teacher and her mother, Berit Engen, is a weaver and part-time Hebrew instructor who grew up in Oslo, Norway.

Tavi began a fashion log called Style Rookie In 2008, in which she presented herself in distinctive outfits with commentaries on the latest fashion trends. It began drawing almost 30,000 readers each day.

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 07: Actress Tavi Gevinson of 'Enough Said' poses at the Guess Portrait Studio during 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 07: Actress Tavi Gevinson of ‘Enough Said’ poses at the Guess Portrait Studio during 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

This eventually led her to be interviewed by The New York Times for an article about young bloggers. Tavi was later invited to attend New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week on the strength of the blog’s success.

Tavi Gavinson has strong family ties. Her mother Berit was born and raised in Oslo, resulting in Tavi spending several summers in Norway at a young age. So much that she at one point spoke Norwegian fluently.  “I’ve unfortunately lost quite a bit of it, but we have great friends and family there and I would love to go again soon,” she says.

“A lot of my style is about childhood, memories and nostalgia. So things like our cottage in Norway, the watering hole nearby and searching for bottle caps with my sister have stuck with me and found their way into my style,” she continues.

At the age of fifteen, in the fall of 2011, Tavi founded Rookie Magazine. The website focuses on issues impacting teenage girls and is written mainly by teenage girls.

Elise By Olsen is a Norwegian rookie blogger who established her magazine Recens a few years ago. Her motivation for creating a magazine was simple: “I decided I wanted to advance things because there’s a distinct lack of publications for young people which don’t showcase gender stereotypes and impossible beauty standards,” she explains.

“I didn’t know about Tavi Gevinson until I was about 14,” says Elise, “but yeah, she’s been an influence.  I mean, we have created two completely different products but we both come from a similar place. It’s great that young people are trying their hand at creativity.”

The main disparity between By Olsen and Gevinson is that while the latter has spearheaded a largely online movement – creating a dialogue through social media and her site, as well as the magazine Rookie – By Olsen is also focused on print. By Olsen, who is also on Instagram, insists she wants her magazine to be a social tool: “I want people to sit around and read it and talk, you know.”

Berit Engen, her Norwegian mother, says, “There’s a certain Norwegian sensibility that I think is part of the family.”

Engen grew up in Oslo, in a small apartment next to the woods. Her father was a cartographer, her mother a telegram typist. In Norway in those days, she recalls, everyone knew everyone, and the social order was built on trust.

As a young woman, she hitchhiked around Europe, always carrying a small loom, and at 30 moved to Chicago to marry Steve Gevinson, whom she’d met when he was visiting Oslo. They roamed the United States in a VW Rabbit they still keep in the garage.

Engen and her husband raised their girls with what she calls an “old-fashioned” arrangement. His work as a high school English teacher supported them, and she gave up her weaving. Even so, their daughters were brought up with a feminist sensibility, the idea that girls could do great things and should be prepared to support themselves.

In many ways, the Gevinson family’s life wasn’t much different from the lives around them. Then Tavi got famous.

“The Tavi thing was like an explosion,” her mother said.

First came Tavi’s fashion blog, which made her the darling of the high-fashion crowd. Now she publishes Rookie, an online magazine with a feminist bent that explores many aspects of life for teenage girls. She was in the movie “Enough Said” with Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

“I think the main reason it has worked as well as it has is that Tavi is a very modest person,” Engen said. “She doesn’t ask for attention. She just gets it.”

Every week, using Scandinavian linen yarn, she makes a new tapestry for her series of weavings based on the Torah. She wants the world to see them, but she has made it a point not to try to piggyback on Tavi’s success.

Tavi Gevinson
– Born 1986
– Norwegian mother, American father
– Started her blog “The Style Tookie” 11 years old
– Established her web magazine Rookie for teenagers (3.5 million hits every month).
– The best if the web magazine is collected in Rookie Yearbook
– Played the leading role in “This is Our Youth” in Chicago last summer, later on Broadway.


Berit Engen
– Born 1955 in Oslo
– Married to Steve Gevinson
– Three daughters, Rivkah, Miriam and Tavi
– Professional weaver
– Converted to Judaism in 2001. Teaches Hebrew.
Portrait of Teenage Celebrity Tavi Gevinson, compiled by Admin