After seven years in the making, Rookie magazine has come to an end. Founded by Tavi Gevinson in 2011 when she was fifteen, Rookie paved a new pathway and started an era in the way teen girls were given a voice in digital media. At age eleven, Tavi’s career in media began and took to fame when she created the blog Style Rookie, which received more than one million views within six days after its debut. A few years later she launched Rookie, a magazine for teens, written by teens. Rookie diverged from mainstream teen media magazines by focusing not only on pop culture and fashion, but also politics, adolescent social issues, and feminism.
On Friday, November 30th Gevinson announced in her monthly editor’s letter the closing of the site, which also goes in depth to the personal and business factors that led to her decision. During Rookie’s seven years, a total of 87 issues were published on the site, written from a wide variety of contributors, including journalists, celebrities, and the magazine’s readers themselves. Though the website will be shutting down within the next few months, “Thankfully, books are forever”, Gevinson states in her farewell letter, as luckily the first four years of the site have been immortalized in print, and another 50 pieces by the Rookie community were anthologized in the book Rookie on Love.
“In one way, this is not my decision, because digital media has become an increasingly difficult business, and Rookie in its current form is no longer financially sustainable,” Gevinson writes in the farewell letter, “And in another way, it is my decision—to not do the things that might make it financially sustainable, like selling it to new owners, taking money from investors, or asking readers for donations or subscriptions.”
“I am feeling about 100 emotions right now, and not all of them are sad: I would actually say that most fall under ‘gratitude,’ also ‘pride’ and ‘awe’ and ‘faith in humanity based on how this was able to even exist at all and go on for as long as it did,’” Gevinson adds.
As we can all attest to, it can be difficult to truly be yourself during your teens, but Rookie became a helpful platform that millions across the globe referenced back to when navigating through their confusing teen years. Because so many had been following the site since it’s start, readers have shared on Rookie’s last Instagram post how much the site had helped them form their identities during their teen years and encouraged them to become the best person they can possibly be: many saying that they wouldn’t be who they are today without it. For much of the community, the site was their first real introduction into feminism, which then helped them to explore and accept more parts of themselves, helping readers come into their own at a very pivotal, vulnerable time in their lives.
Rookie was hugely influential in making it’s readers feel like they weren’t alone in their feelings or situations, it was a place that understood so many of us. It helped millions realize that it’s okay to be yourself and to express yourself however you want to. In a way that had not been done before, Rookie gave 21st century girls and women so much freedom to create, process, and grow together in a safe, open-minded, female-empowered environment. Rookie helped make the mysteries of being a teenager slightly less confusing, and sometimes even enjoyable.
In the letter, Gevinson adds:
“To everyone who has bared their souls through their writing and art on Rookie, making us all feel seen, heard, connected, and inspired; making Rookie better, smarter, and more human: Thank you. It has been an absolute gift—I don’t know how else to describe it—to see you interpret Rookie’s monthly themes in your own work. To learn about you through your art. I will really miss that exchange of ideas and experiences. And now I am actually starting to cry, thinking about how much love and vulnerability have gone into the thousands of articles, essays, poems, advice, stories, interviews, photos, illustrations, comics, collages, playlists, and videos on Rookie. Thank you.”
Tavi Gevinson and her creation of Rookie have been inspirational to so many young people across the globe– myself included. The summer going in my senior year of high school I got really into zines, and Rookie had an amazing archive of some. During my senior year I finally decided to make my own zine issues, and I have Rookie to thank for that. Along with zines, Rookie has been a huge inspiration for my passion of journalism; I use to think journalism was just boring cover stories on newspapers, but Rookie has opened my eyes to see that journalism can be much more than that.
I had the pleasure of meeting Tavi at a talk back this past February in Hollywood (picture below), and it was pretty cool and surreal if you ask me. Rookie has pushed and dared our generation of young women to think outside the confined lines of mainstream expectations.
Nearing the end of the letter, Gevinson notes, “The changes people create in one another do not go away. The people you grow up with stay forever. You made Rookie with us, and its spirit will love on it whatever comes next for us all.”