Live Through This

How to Not Care What Other People Think of You

I don’t know why I haven’t gotten my own show on the OWN network yet.

Illustration by Kelly

Not caring what people think is the hokey pokey to getting through each and every day—it’s what it’s all about. (GET IT?) I don’t know if not caring what people think comes before or after liking yourself, but I think learning to do either will help with the other.

I don’t feel like the most qualified person to talk about this, but I don’t know what it would take to be the most qualified. Self-esteem is the kind of thing that sucks basically for every girl, no matter what your circumstances, probably because you are constantly told you can and should be better. We get a depressing number of You Asked It questions about this, but I have too much to say to condense it to a couple paragraphs for a Just Wondering post. “Be yourself!”-type stuff isn’t effective without the exhausting breakdown we’re about to get into. I’ve split this up into three sections: wearing what you want, your physical self, and your internal self. Damn, I don’t know why I haven’t gotten my own show on the OWN network yet.

1. Wearing What You Want

People respect people who wear what they want because they wish they could be that courageous. The problem is that in order for this to work, you have to be courageous. Or at least, at first, appear to be. You don’t have to walk around singing “I Can Go the Distance,” but if you feel insecure, you can’t show it. That sounds unhealthy, but this is one of those situations where you have to convince yourself you don’t care before you start actually not caring. You have to, like, brainwash yourself a little bit.

Read interviews with people like Lady Gaga and cool old ladies who don’t give a shit if someone thinks what they’re wearing is weird—in fact, they invite it. Certain mantras will stick with you, and you’ll just have to repeat them to yourself throughout the day, on the day you choose to wear something “weird.” Healthy brainwashing, right? Here’s a gem from the late Isabella Blow, fashion editor and muse to Alexander McQueen: “My style icon is anybody who makes a bloody effort.” I typed it from memory, because this is one of my arsenal of phrases that go off in my head whenever someone is being a tool.

You have to challenge anyone who gives you a funny look with a look of your own. Or don’t acknowledge them at all, because they’re not worth it! What will happen is that you will walk by and go on with your life feeling good that nobody’s got you down, and they’ll stand there a little dumbfounded. Maybe eventually they will grow up and realize how stupid it is to care about how other people look, and to expect people to care that they care, or maybe they’ll stay an asshole forever. You’ll probably never see them again. If you do see them again, because they’re a classmate or friend, their opinion might not be worth valuing. I get that it’s hard to just cut off communication with someone, and no one wants to do that over a single incident, but you just know now to be a little more critical of their opinions or views when they offer them. You don’t have to take what they say personally.

I think most people are afraid of dressing a little stranger or cuter because they’re afraid people will think they think they’re so great. Like people will be like, “OH, SO YOU’RE ALL ARTSY NOW?” Nobody will say this if you act like it’s no big deal, as opposed to constantly checking yourself in trophy-case reflections or whatever. If anyone does say it, you look at them, give one of the more subtle “you are an idiot” bitchfaces, and say, “…No?” And they will feel like a dumbass.

What such people don’t get is that most people who like more obscure music or wear vintage clothes don’t think of themselves as artsy, they’re just exploring and trying to define their taste instead of being someone who likes whatever is handed to them for fear of being mistaken for pretentious. I don’t like the term hipster—I think it’s become so broad as to apply to basically everyone—but the defining quality is that a hipster thinks and cares about what their tastes say about them, instead of just liking what they like. And so there is nothing more hipster than a person who decides that the only reason another person is wearing a colorful dress is that they’re concerned with what that dress means for their image. It’s hipster to give a shit if other people are hipsters or not; this is why people who claim they’re not hipsters are the most hipster of all, because they’re thinking that hard about it, and caring that much about what other people think.

People are afraid of trying to be creative because they’re afraid that they won’t succeed, but who said your “success” in getting dressed has to be evaluated by other people? As long as you’re into what you’re wearing and it makes you more comfortable with yourself, it doesn’t matter if someone else thinks you’ve put together a perfectly composed outfit. Actually, the effect of your confidence will only add to how stylish your outfit seems. It’s like the best catch-22 ever.

Also, some people think that once you start dressing “weirdly,” you have to keep it up. My middle school reputation was based on wearing really crazy stuff, and whenever I went to school in PJs, some people thought I’d given in to the naysayers. If anyone said anything, I just had to shrug and be like, naw man, I’m tired today. Again, it’s about the whole people-deciding-your-image-for-you thing. Don’t let them. Make them feel stupid for trying. This might feel cruel at first, but have no shame or guilt. You have every right to wear whatever you want, and if someone is so narrow-minded that they need to get on you about it so that the world is easier for them to understand, they might need a reminder that it doesn’t work that way. They’re the ones who think so highly of themselves that they expect you to care what they think of your shoes. You’re just trying to have a good time. (Oh, and this strategy is not reserved for people who have reputations for being obnoxious and opinionated. It is not a contradiction to be nice or shy or whatever you think of yourself as, and still have to be like, every once in a while, Relax, bro, I’m just trying something different.)

It comes down to this: if you dress “weird,” kind old ladies will come up to you on the street and tell you that you made their day. And that will make your day. It’s the most delightful thing.

2. Liking Your Body/Face

One of the most insightful things I’ve ever read about eating disorders and body esteem in general was a comment on my blog a while ago that I regret being unable to find now. The writer was saying that most people think girls want to be skinny because of Hollywood and Vogue. This girl wanted to be skinny because she wanted to be a protagonist.

She didn’t expose herself to mainstream fashion magazines or TV; she was interested in art films and books and indie music. But no matter how alternative the movie, the protagonist was almost always skinny. And wanting to be a protagonist means wanting to be someone, as most people do. Apparently, your story is only worth hearing, you’re only someone, if you’re skinny—it’s like, the blueprint of a human. Once that’s down, you’re allowed to be as interesting and protagonist-y as you want! Apparently.

No matter how much people our age have been raised on girl power and believe in yourself and you are beautiful, ignoring the beauty standards of the culture we live in is close to impossible. And as this lady pointed out, these standards and expectations exist outside mainstream culture like reality TV and tabloids; they exist in punk and indie cultures, in “artsy” Tumblr cultures that are all about looking like a fairy, but only if you’re a skinny white girl. I often find myself guilty of the “Everyone should love their body!…EXCEPT ME” mentality, where you believe in body acceptance on a theoretical level, but are still hard on yourself about conforming to those standards. You know they’re bullshit, and you know you’re worth more than your looks, but you still can’t help feeling guilty or anxious over something like your weight or proportions or whatever thing is left on the constantly updated to-do list handed to us monthly by way of magazine headlines. Like, OK, say I got my “bikini body”—next month I’m going to learn that my eyes are way too far apart, then that my chin is a little too floppy, until I need to start ranking my earlobe shape on a 1-10 scale.

I think a big reason many girls shy away from calling themselves feminists is that they’re worried they won’t be able to live up to this idea of a Strong Woman, and that there’s no room in this club for anyone who isn’t 100% comfortable with herself all the time. You can totally be a feminist who has insecurities. Feminism isn’t about pretending we all feel like Wonder Woman, it’s about being honest when we don’t, and having the conversation on why that is.

Thankfully, lots of this conversation is online, along with lots of just general support and inspiration and whatnot. Yeah, I’m talking about not caring about what people think, but it is comforting to know that some group of people somewhere will welcome you for dressing in weird clothes. The body acceptance tag on Tumblr will bring you to lots of body acceptance blogs and fashion blogs. They’re for everyone, and I think it’s healthy to check in whether you feel like you really need it or not.

Also, now that we’re all teeeeeenz, it’s a bit late to undo some of the Photoshoppery we’ve been raised around and grown to see as normal or desirable. But it helps to surround yourself with images of women who aren’t like the ones you typically see in tabloids or on TV. Images are powerful, and it’s only when I find myself looking at certain fashion magazines or Tumblrs that I feel myself once again grow insecure about how I look. Most of the time I’m in my little bubble of Enid Coleslaw, Frida Kahlo, Lena Dunham, Patti Smith, Cindy Sherman, JD Samson, Grace Jones, Fairuza Balk, Gabourey Sidibe, and Kathleen Hanna. It is so, so important that influential female people and characters who are not conventional, in their looks and/or personality, exist. Pop culture, and just images, make a huge difference in how people think, and watch Miss Representation if you’re not sure you believe me.

But what if you don’t want to live in a bubble? What if you don’t want to totally reject the majority of our culture and live in a John Waters gang of outcasts, forever plagued by your secret desire to read Cosmo? What if you want to enjoy tabloids and reality TV and looking at shows from Fashion Week and photos in Vogue, but without letting the beauty stuff get to you? I think as long as you are discerning, you can totally be a part of that. But when you catch yourself thinking, God, I wish I looked like that, you have to remind yourself that the person in that ad is heavily Photoshopped, or sat in a makeup chair for three hours, or both. It’s not about pretending you don’t feel that way and keeping it all down and putting on a Strong Woman face, it’s about being honest with yourself when you start to feel this way.

And, the disclaimer: I am thin and white and able-bodied and I generally fit our culture’s beauty bill. My confidence, self-esteem, whatever, still goes up and down. (THANKS HORMONES, AND NO YOU WILL NOT BE GETTING A BASKET OF MINI MUFFINS FROM ME ANYTIME SOON.) Which brings me to…

3. Liking Your Brain/Personality/Soul/That Stuff

Prettiness is not only about being physically attractive. There’s a prettier kind of personality, you know? More smiley, more agreeable, charming, less likely to challenge someone on what they say or call them out for being an asshole. And because our culture, for a long time, associated girl with feminine with pretty, but not smart, there’s a message out there that you can only be one or the other—pretty or smart, feminine or funny, Sarah Palin or Hillary Clinton. Mindy Kaling wrote in her book that she has dealt with having to decide whether to be pretty or funny her whole life. There is an episode of 30 Rock where Liz is upset that Jenna, the prettier/thinner/blonder/dumber actress gets all the attention for a line Liz wrote. Pete reminds her that Liz is a writer, not a star, and this is what she agreed to.

In reality, of course, plenty of women are both smart and pretty, funny and feminine, etc. This is why pop culture needs more strong female characters. Not like, I’m a superhero and I’m supersexy and STRONG and my boobs look really good in this catsuit but oh wait I’m totally two-dimensional. Like, multifaceted, with many layers. Like, you know, human. Can we get a list going in the comments of characters like this? Mad Men is great because its women are just as multidimensional as the men. I love Lena Dunham for writing characters like this. I love the characters of Ghost World and Dreamgirls and The Royal Tenenbaums.

When it comes to becoming the person you want to be, you have to know who you want to be first. And it’s hard to know what we, as girls slash women, really want. I may want to look a certain way because I know it will get me respect and people will pay attention to what I have to say. But I don’t really want to look that way, I “want” to look that way because it’s what they want, and I’ll benefit somehow, but I don’t know who comes out on top in the end.

The root of your confidence in all three of these not-caring-what-people-think subtopics is knowing that you, ultimately, believe in everything you look like or do or say, whether someone else challenges you on it or not. But that is a lot of pressure and responsibility! Because you probably don’t know what exactly you want—and we’re all young and human, so there’s no rush—you will probably find that you don’t believe in everything you ever look like or do or say. Someone might criticize you, and you’ll think about it, and you’ll agree with them. This is fine. It’s all part of figuring out what makes you feel most like yourself and, in turn, most comfortable with yourself. Nobody is perfectly consistent, and anyone who expects people to be that way is just trying to make the world easier for them to understand. This is what we call laziness, and not the awesome kind where you eat a lot of stuff and watch TV.

Just be wary, when you get down on yourself, of where the negativity comes from, especially if that place might be society or culture or whatever. I mean, I can’t even get started on all the fuckedupedness with the mixed messages we get about sexuality. We’ve all seen Black Swan, right? Trying to be innocent but sexy but purity rings but grinding at homecoming will make a lady bonkers. You’ll have visions of Winona Ryder hiding in your kitchen. I am a big fan of Winona Ryder, but I don’t need her hiding in my kitchen.

Besides: everyone else is too busy worrying about themselves to worry about you, so you don’t need to be concerned with what they might think. If you’re worried because of what you think, of yourself, that brings us back to two paragraphs ago, to self-respect. Again, you don’t need to be a completely complete human right now. Or ever! That’s what makes you human.

There will be bad days, where you feel like complete shit. Eventually it gets easier to recognize—somewhere between the point when you’ve been following a fight in YouTube comments and the point when you cried because you saw the VHS of Aladdin that you walk by every day sitting on top of your TV—that you are having one of these days. When you recognize this, spend the rest of the day being nice to yourself. There’s nothing you can do but get through it and know that you’ll wake up tomorrow and it’ll just be different. These are the days when you need to have some humility about the fact that you’re sitting in bed watching pirated episodes of Sonny With a Chance and eating peanut butter out of the jar.

“Self-esteem is for sissies. Accept that you’re a pimple and try to keep a lively sense of humor about it. That way lies grace—and maybe even glory.”
— Tom Robbins, Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates

This mindset is comforting to me in a way “everyone is beautiful!” is not. I don’t want to believe that I should be concerned with being beautiful, I want to believe that I can be comfortable with myself even though I’m also the kind of person who follows everything that comes out of my mouth by cringing and questioning my own mortality. Yes, I get a little sad when I remember I’m too neurotic and too sarcastic, and that I choose to be loud or quiet at all the wrong times, to be a Sofia Coppola character, but also too vapid, too easily amused, to be as cool as Daria. But I’m not a Sofia Coppola character, and I’m not Daria, I’m me, and I want to look and act like me. And I’ll define me for myself, and it can be, like, this whole other thing that exists outside of body types and comparisons and references. I just wanna like what I like and do things I enjoy and have solid friends and be too busy experiencing this grand old thing we call life (holy SHIT where is my call from OWN) to worry whether I’m allowed to or not.

It’s easy to let your mouse slip to your webcam in a moment’s boredom and start wondering what’s so wrong with you that you can’t even get your eye makeup right, or realize you’ve been brushing your teeth for 10 minutes because you started staring at a blemish in the mirror. It’s inconvenient to seek out communities and role models who make you feel good about yourself when there’s all this other crap all around you.

It will always be harder to get to be someone who doesn’t care what people think, but that’s why you’re a tiny little awesome warrior for even trying. And isn’t that kind of exciting? Go forth, tiny warrior, and conquer.


  • Susann January 24th, 2012 3:17 PM

    Great article, really inspiring! Thanks :)

  • Georgie January 24th, 2012 3:28 PM

    This is so perfect. For a long time, people have told us to “be ourselves” – but we haven’t had any reason to. But you’re totally right – our heroes and heroines (or the ones who matter, anyway) aren’t perfect; they have still have quirks and flaws just like us, physically and mentally. Being thin won’t make us any happier and speaking as someone with experience of caring way too much about weight, I’m so glad that I’m eating the way I want to nowadays and not only that but wearing the stuff I like, saying what I really think. Maybe this all sounds really corny but I’m totally proud of who I am and there’ll be days when I love myself and days when I hate everything about me – but either way, I’m staying the way I am and that’s it.

    Thanks Rookie, empowering feminist speech over ;)

  • MissKnowItAll January 24th, 2012 3:30 PM

    This is very beautiful and eye-opening but I wish you’d write about how skinny girls gan learn to like their bodies. From middle school to high school, I barely made it over 95 pounds. It wasn’t because I didn’t eat. It was because my body didn’t gain weight. I could pig out like the apocalypse was tomorrow but I still couldn’t gain weight. I yearned for curves and an hourglass figure. All the magazines that talked about accepting your body completely disregarded the skinny girls. I would always get called anorexic and one time, an old lady on the bus told me that I should eat more. I love Rookie but I only wish you’d show the beautiful side of being skinny. Thanks

    • Naomi Morris January 24th, 2012 3:59 PM

      i know what you mean so bad. i was a *cough* late developer and was called skinny and was absolutely mortified. so i am not sooo skinny anymore and i’ve seen it from both sides, i know that regardless of what your body actually looks like, you’re still going to have doubts about it and feel crap about it – whether hourglass or skinny or all the shapes in between.
      but, at the same time, when i was more thin i found a lot of comfort in movie stars and magazines and mainly in audrey hepburn actually. now, it’s much harder to find.
      i don’t think anyone doubts that people of any size of body image issues. i think it’s so important not to presume that anyone should be fine with their body just because it is presented as much more the ideal. i’ve seen with my own eyes that a lot of other people realise this too.

    • Kate January 24th, 2012 4:49 PM

      I agree with you. I am constantly teased at school for being so skinny and underdeveloped, and often being accused of being anorexic. But I actually eat about twice as much as a normal person every day because I have a very high metabolism that makes it really hard for me to put on weight and maintain my weight. I don’t tease my friends that are slightly overweight, because that would be seen as cruel, but they consider it no big deal to refer to me simply as ‘stick’ or ‘ironing board.’

      • Cruicked January 24th, 2012 6:14 PM

        I am so sick of being treated like a miserable, bitchy bitch who doesn’t eat enough because people who don’t know me judge me for being skinny.

    • Emilie January 24th, 2012 8:11 PM

      I know EXACTLY what you mean. One time a complete stranger came up to me and asked if I was born premature just because I am skinny, and I have always had a problem with being bullied because of my weight. Whenever I try to confide in someone about it I always get the same response, “what do YOU have to complain about?” But the truth is, skinny does not equal beauty and people are VERY quick to point that out to me. I wholeheartedly agree with Kate when she said people always assume I never eat when TRUST ME, I pack it in (not to make myself gain weight, my hobbies just HAPPEN to all be eating). So… oh yeah my point! Thanks to Tavi for this article, and thanks to MissKnowItAll for your comment.

  • marthaflatley January 24th, 2012 3:35 PM

    Such an important article. I’m 25 and this is so true for me even at this age. You are so right–most people will never even try to define themselves and live outside of the box. Now that I am out of school and in the real world I’ve dated a lot of people like that and I know it’s true. You are a warrior for even trying. Thanks Tavi…Rookie blows every other womens mag out of the water.

    • Mags January 25th, 2012 12:48 AM

      I’m 26 and Rookie is my obsession and I DON’T CARE THAT IT’S FOR TEENS. It is The Awesome.

  • moonchild January 24th, 2012 3:35 PM

    YES YES YES!!!!! I think I have achieved the point where I really DON’T GIVE A FLAMING POOP what anyone thinks about me!

    I wear WHATEVER THE HELL I WANT and at first people freaked out and were like “what are you weeeeeaaaaaaaarrrrrrring????” but after a while, they started to see that I AM JUST SO FREAKING RAD THAT I CAN WEAR WHAT EVER I WANT!!!! Now I get a TON TON TON of compliments about my unique style! :)

    After a while, it actually becomes kinda funny to see people’s reactions to what I wear. Some people just look REALLY confused, some people look at me like I have offended them, and some people look genuinely afraid.

    I have come to really love myself for who I am and try to follow some stupid trend… I feel a lot better about myself as a person now.

    On my blog you can see some of the wackjob stuff I wear:

    Thanks for listening and being generally awesome, Rookie!!!!


    • Anaheed January 24th, 2012 3:40 PM

      Oh, your blog is awesome.

      • moonchild January 24th, 2012 3:46 PM

        Oh. My. Freaking. Fracking. God.

        Is this a dream?

      • Anaheed January 24th, 2012 3:51 PM

        Only if you dream about old ladies approving of your online presence. (Dream big!)

    • mangachic January 24th, 2012 3:43 PM

      Your blog is amazing!!!!!!! I’m eagerly awaiting my next long car ride so I can make the cut up tshirt. And your halloween costume was absolutely incredible

      • moonchild January 24th, 2012 3:46 PM

        You are amazing. I love the world now.

    • MissKnowItAll January 24th, 2012 3:55 PM

      OHMYGOODNESS I love you and your blog. Your like my soul sister!!!!

    • Naomi Morris January 24th, 2012 4:01 PM

      you are OWNING no. 1 already!

    • Eleanor January 24th, 2012 5:08 PM

      you are awesome!

    • Petra January 24th, 2012 5:46 PM

      OMG so jealous of your pink chest hair collar thing – <3

    • brynntheredonethat January 24th, 2012 6:53 PM

      WOAH. Your blog really is awesome!!! Your outfits are SO GREAT. :O

      You made a Bellatrix costume, too!!!! alsjdfad :D

    • TessAnnesley January 24th, 2012 7:47 PM


    • Mags January 25th, 2012 12:48 AM

      I love your clothes!! You’re so talented!

    • loonylizzy January 25th, 2012 9:01 PM

      your blog is awesome! im totally following you now. its nice to know that there are other DIY lover/potterhead/all-around-badass people out there! totally trying the ripped tee thing asap :)

    • stylepukka January 26th, 2012 9:01 AM

      let me add another praising comment about you. your blog is super duper cool and inspiring and pink collar beards are what everyone should strive to wear and you are too awesome for a girl your age. so please keep writing.

      • moonchild January 26th, 2012 4:47 PM

        oh WOW. I am crying right now because I am so happy. I had no idea so many rookie readers/awesome people supported me.

        ThankyouThankyouThankyou. I cannot thank you all enough.


      • moonchild January 26th, 2012 4:50 PM

        I’d be happy to do a style column for Rookie!

        oh waiiiittttttt… you already have Tavi. nevmind. hahaha (that was a joke, in case you didn’t realize)

        :) Gwen

    • Cosmo Beatrix January 28th, 2012 1:54 PM

      I had a dream last night that everyone was wearing pink hair skirts or pink hair neck beards with long sleeved black tops and it was like hysteria because it was the cool thing .

  • Anaheed January 24th, 2012 3:37 PM

  • mangachic January 24th, 2012 3:37 PM

    This was so perfect and so much more useful than the ‘be yourself and your world will suddenly be filled with sunshine and rainbows’ crap that we’re fed. (By seventeen for example, which says that in a page stuffed with photoshopped celebrities.) And it’s also really nice and reassuring that there’s the section about agreeing with criticism as being ok and the you’re an awesome person because you’re trying to care less about what people think. It feels a lot more real and self esteem raising than 99.999% of seventeen stuff.
    Aaaand saying that traditionally mainstream stuff is ok because I feel like too many things cast that as horrifying when they should just let you decide for yourself what you enjoy, if that makes any sense.
    Thank you Rookiemag and Tavi!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sarah January 24th, 2012 3:42 PM

    Tavi this is great, I’m all teary and empowered**
    I remember the first time I had a negative thought about myself. I was 5 and I saw my arm in the mirror, was horrified, and proceeded to wrap duck tape around it to make it skinnier. my arm went numb. GOD that’s so fucked up.
    anyway thanks it’s nice to read an actually helpful article about confidence.

  • Naomi Morris January 24th, 2012 3:51 PM

    when will i stop talking about danish tv? NEVER. because danish tv has absolutely amazing female characters, smart and pretty and powerful and competent and having abortions without losing their shit completely.
    i am watching Borgen at the moment about a female prime minister so… go female leaders.

  • Claudia January 24th, 2012 3:53 PM

    This was beautiful, Tavi. This is one of those articles that really makes me appreciate this website. Wonderful job; keep articles like this one coming.

  • Narita January 24th, 2012 3:54 PM

    I really love you more than anything for writing this and I feel like spreading a thousand copies of this speech on every school in this country. I actually had a self-doubting shit day today (it’s almost 10 pn here in the Netherlands) and this got me kind-of out of that feeling for now. Thank you.

  • sedgwick January 24th, 2012 3:54 PM

    Normally I’m all good with this stuff and don’t worry about it too much, except when I’m premenstrual, because then I’m like this giant poo and I need to just flush myself because who wants to look at a shit. So I’ll definitely be re-reading this during THAT time of the month. With this and cramp tablets, I can rule the world.

  • superkat January 24th, 2012 3:57 PM

    I honestly don’t know what I would do without you Rookie..

  • Lauralolo January 24th, 2012 3:59 PM

    How cool would it be to have photoshoots featuring grandmas in fashion magazines sometimes ?!
    (Sorry for my english, I’m french)

  • suburban grrrl January 24th, 2012 4:07 PM

    This is the kind of stuff that make me love Rookie! I’ve been dealing with being the “smart weird girl” for years, and this year people started getting nasty about it. BUT I DON’T CARE! I like being a history geek and an english geek and I like listening to “different” music and watching violent films from the 70′s.

    So sue me! Whatevs, that stuff’s getting me into college

  • MeeMoo January 24th, 2012 4:08 PM

    Thanks, Tavi! I particularly enjoyed the bit about the “hipster” label. For 10+ years now, I have sincerely been into weird music, art, vintage clothing, larger than necessary glasses, etc. and you know what? No one ever gave me crap about it until that darn “hipster” label started becoming a thing, what, like 3 years ago-ish? It is unfortunate, because I feel the ridiculous “hipster hate” has made a lot of wonderful creative types feel very self-conscious about expressing their style and interests. Sigh.

  • Sofie January 24th, 2012 4:09 PM

    I’m pleased you wrote this,it’s definatley something I’ve tried to preach since my wee years of teenagerdom,before I even understood it all myself. Bravo for always being eloquent,and explaining it better than I would.
    Though,the earlier sections about if people react in a nasty manner to your “weirdness” you should believe there a dumbass. I realise that isn’t exactly what you wrote,but I was getting that sort of vibe? Just wondering about that point a little more,interested in your opinions. I guess I didn’t really like the idea of devaluing other people,seen as they’re still having to survive in the same toxic surroundings.but then I understand that by accepting that treatment,you don’t give yourself respect…..
    yet,I guess I’d rather try teach them,than just label them as jerks?


    • Tavi January 24th, 2012 6:30 PM

      In my experience, anyone who is nasty isn’t looking to be educated. Of course not all criticism is invalid — and like I said, you might find that someone is right about a criticism — but when it comes to people just making fun or letting you know that they hate your outfit…yeah, I would say that’s a jerky thing to do.

      • ellarose January 28th, 2012 2:09 PM

        Tavi i think this is the best thing my eyes have ever read, thanks x

  • anhiebananhie January 24th, 2012 4:11 PM

    Thank you, Tavi.

    This was very insightful and sweet.

  • Sarah_Colee January 24th, 2012 4:13 PM

    I have suffered from extremely low self esteem for my entire life. A few months ago I was starting to develop tendencies and symptoms of bulimia and anorexia. What triggered it was feeling very insecure in my own body and feeling like I was a failure. When my doctor told me that it hadn’t been going on for long enough to officially class as an ED, I felt like more of a failure, as silly as it sounds. Those habits are starting to fade now, but I’m worried that I’ll relapse. It’s posts like these that help me to think positively and get into the correct frame of mind. This post is truly inspirational and such an eye-opener. Thank you for cheering me up today :) xxx

  • darksideoftherainbow January 24th, 2012 4:17 PM

    oh tavi, all of this is so true and so helpful to read. i think especially because a lot of us secretly know it but need to hear it from another girl so that we can all understand that we’re in it together and experience the same things. i’m 24 and still have to remind myself not care what other people think. it’s crazy because i wear shoes that are super old and have holes in them, things that are ripped, and never at all trendy but the thing that bothers people is that i always show cleavage. i have pretty big boobs and cleavage is my THING. i love it and not just on me-i think it looks great on other girls, too! what’s sad is that i get the most shit about it from other girls and i can’t tell you how many times i’ve gotten the stink eye from a girl and seen and HEARD her talk about me and judge me and then she and i will be in the bathroom at the same time, alone, and she will compliment me on my boobs and say how jealous they are of them and how it’s cool that i show cleavage. i always forgive them because i understand that not everyone is comfortable enough to do it but i still wish that it wouldn’t happen at all. if we didn’t get that girl time in the bathroom then i could go home and feel bad about myself and next time change how i dress because of them. well, thanks for this post…it is the best and most honest thing i’ve ever read about learning who you are and even harder, learning to LIKE IT.

    • Mags January 25th, 2012 12:43 AM

      Don’t ever stop showing your cleavage. Cleavage is awesome. I love showing mine as well. Be proud of your body, if you’ve got it flaunt it, insert ALL THE CLICHES here :)

  • mouse January 24th, 2012 4:24 PM


  • missblack January 24th, 2012 4:26 PM

    ohmigod this is great. I totally agree with not caring about what other people think, I’ve been practicing that philosophy since, like, kindergarten :D btw Tavi’s definition of ‘hipster’ is SO TRUE.
    so glad someone else notices the idea of the ‘skinny protagonist’; I’ve been picking up on that for ages and it’s always annoyed me. Hence the reason why Ghost World is one of my favorite movies (Thora Birch and ScarJo are so non-stick-thin). (also I just read this book called How I Live Now with a protagonist who was extremely thin and yet the way it was handled made it seem like, i don’t know, not a plus exactly just a fact, and that was really shocking to me at the time…not to mention the fact that the reason she was so skinny was because she didn’t eat any food because she thought her stepmother was poisoning her. Anyway…)
    and I love that third-to-last paragraph because no one IS a Sofia Coppola character or Daria and I for one am perfectly all right with the fact that I like to watch Wes Anderson movies AND mtv and the fact that I totally relate to those alternative people that hate the world BUT I have this problem where I’m really nice to everybody.

    Geez long comment but whatever, I just love Rookie and I have to say it sometimes :D


    • Chimdi January 24th, 2012 8:21 PM

      YES. and Daria/Lisbon girls are SKINNY

  • lauragrr January 24th, 2012 4:30 PM

    i loved this article, its beautiful. thanks tavi!

  • Katie January 24th, 2012 4:42 PM

    This article was perfectly timed for the day I felt like shit. Thank you for writing this. I’m going to try to not care what people think of me.

  • Serena.K January 24th, 2012 4:44 PM

    oh my god, this was brilliant, tavi. i think i’m going to print this out and read it whenever i’m having a bad day.

  • Sonja January 24th, 2012 4:47 PM

    BRAVO and Amenzzzzzzzzzz

    Tavi needs own show on OWN network.

    • Helena January 25th, 2012 5:07 AM

      She really needs her own show on OWN network!!!!

  • brynntheredonethat January 24th, 2012 4:47 PM

    I love how I always feel like my brain got a job as the editor of a blog when I read Tavi’s posts on Rookie. And by that, I mean thank you.

    I started dressing WEIRD last year, my sophomore year, after finally getting rid of my old self-image; the shy nerdy girl who was too overweight and too pink in the face and who’s opinion was worthless. In 8th grade, I started speaking up a lot — I earned enemies because of what I actually BELIEVE, instead of because I was “frowned upon” and dressed weird. (Which is why I started dressing “normal” in the first place.) I went through depression over the summer and I’m currently fighting it off, so I wasn’t really motivated to dress weird at the beginning of this school year. Then I started feeling bad for that, and it became a whole cycle, yada yada. But if I don’t care what people think of my clothes when they’re weird, why should I care what people think of them when they’re not?

    I COMPLETELY understand the protagonist thing. I’m a bookworm, and most of the time the problem is “too skinny,” not too fat, with leading girls in books. But I’m going to be really cliche here and say for the inspirational characters thing, pretty much all of the Harry Potter girls (actresses AND their characters!) are so inspirational. Also, Lady Gaga. I’m jussayin’. I think Sia is SO beautiful, but not in a conventional way at all. Most book characters in fantasy are pretty inspirational, too. Emma from Once Upon A Time is awesome. So. Yeah.

  • bookworm123 January 24th, 2012 4:51 PM

    This was just…awesome. And you are just plain awesome, Tavi. PLAIN AWESOME. Or bedazzled awesome, if preferred. I feel all happy and empowered:) And I loved the bit about the hipster label–it just annoys me!
    I am going to wear something different tomorrow–well, tights and knee socks, but it is different for me so I dont care! I love Rookie!

  • cancercowboy January 24th, 2012 4:51 PM

    wow, this just blew me away.
    thanks for existing and being who you are, Ms Gevinson.

  • llamagesicht January 24th, 2012 4:52 PM

    Yo, Tavi. y u so wise?

  • Bardot January 24th, 2012 4:55 PM

    Yet again Rookie has produced something that will save from falling into a deep dark pit of depression. Every teenage girl should read this because it will rid them of all their insecurities. Thank you for being so inspiring Xxx

  • Emilie January 24th, 2012 4:58 PM

    I just had to stop reading to go look at the old lady video and it was EXCELLENT INSPIRING AWESOME, anyways now Im going back to read the rest of the article but SO FAR SO GOOD

    • Emilie January 24th, 2012 5:23 PM

      FINISHED! wowthankswhoa. This article taught me SO MANY amazingamazing things that I am going to try my hardest to apply to my life. On par with that it showed me how far Ive come from the seventh grader who bust out crying alone in a room because of a victoria secret commercial that came on. Normally I might not share that with the public despite the large amount of anonymity that comes with the comment sections on the internet but now I DONT GIVE A SHIT; see what you’ve done?

  • I.ila January 24th, 2012 4:59 PM

  • Molly Blues January 24th, 2012 5:03 PM

    i think this is, like, the best thing you’ve ever posted.


    many thanks, Tavi

  • jamie_c January 24th, 2012 5:13 PM

    All true and profound – I especially liked ‘trophy-case reflection’ – really great writing.

  • WitchesRave January 24th, 2012 5:16 PM

    This is fantastic, im gonna bookmark it to look at whenever i feel down..

    Im kinda at this dilemma now because my all- girl high school has organised a ‘grooming course’ where we’re going to learn how to appropriately apply make up, dress, hygiene, hair etc. for everyone in my year( 15-16 year olds) in 2 days and tbh, i really dont know what to think of it..

    Im asking myself, are we learning this because we’re girls? , why arent we doing a mechanical course or a course that will give us skills? , do girls in this day and age STILL need to look physically appealing and fit a specific ‘look’ for our future careers? , or is it just an innocent grooming course?

    Id love to know other Rook-iers opinions :)

    • Naomi Morris January 24th, 2012 5:46 PM

      urghhh. if i were you i would protest and not go. you do not need to learn to do make up and hair to be a women.

      • WitchesRave January 24th, 2012 5:57 PM

        Exactly! Our year head (who’s a 50 year old man btw, and a maths teacher) says that it will ”help us have more confidence” and i was just thinking, wtf? Last time i checked this is a SCHOOL, I come here to get an education, and as a teacher, you should be promoting that confidence comes from our accomplishments, not our appereance.

    • Maggie January 24th, 2012 6:32 PM

      Confession: I wish I could crash your school and take this ‘grooming course.’ Sometimes I actually want to look glamorous/professional, but I have no idea how to do it. HOW to make hair look smooth? HOW to put an outfit together? I genuinely do not know how to do these things, and would value instruction. Then I could CHOOSE to look like a mess, instead of looking that way simply by default.

    • taste test January 24th, 2012 6:34 PM

      oh, christ, that sucks. but unfortunately, I don’t think there’s much you can do about it.

      I empathize with your plight. I go to a conservative all-girls Catholic high school where it is drilled into our heads on a daily basis that we need to be chaste, good little Catholic girls and marry chaste, good little Catholic boys and have lots of precious little babies or else we are worthless excuses for women. no joke. so I know how much it sucks ass to deal with sexist crap in a so-called place of higher learning.

      the only advice I have is to do as little as possible if any actual work is required and keep an eye out for unintentional comedy. write it down if you can. it tends to make shitty situations like this more bearable.

    • youarebananas January 25th, 2012 1:22 AM

      wait, do you go to this school: ?? cray! i understand that it’s a professional asset, but i don’t understand why we can’t try to circumvent the need for women to achieve success through superficial attractiveness…instead, we could encourage, oh, i don’t know, achieving success by being SMART and ACCOMPLISHED and EDUCATED? like, just a thought, you guys

      • WitchesRave January 25th, 2012 10:56 AM

        Nope, I live in Ireland which is still today, quite an old-fashioned thinking country, especially the schools as the majority of them are single-sex, uniformed schools, for example in my girl school we only have the choice of doing home ec, while an all-boys school nearby does technical graphics and woodwork. It sucks and it needs to change.

  • Helena January 24th, 2012 5:36 PM

    Wow!! that is great!I’ve been dealing with accepting my self for about two years, when I realised that I should stop hating myself because of my chubby body, and stop fighting against it, because it hurted more than what other people would say, so during years I didn’t even try to were some clothes, i didn’t even go to beach or talk about my opinions because my body.
    So now, if someone wants my opinion, stop and think why do you feel these way, and understand that apparence is not as important as you think, and that the truth is that at the end nobody cares as much as you do, and the ones how do, doesn’t even deserve your time.
    For me it has worked, stopping judging other people (because sometimes everybody does that) and just try to enjoy life as it comes, without thinking about this stuff(because at the end its a waste of time). For me tumblr has been a great help, people like jessica from
    has helped me to see things from another perspective. I haven’t got to the point of absolute happiness about that but I am on my way, and it does feel good, to care a bit about myself.
    So thanks rookie for all this great articles you bring to the world!<3

  • purplesunshine January 24th, 2012 5:45 PM

    Uh thanks!! This post came at just the right time, since just earlier this afternoon, I realised that I shouldn’t care what people think, online, offline, all over the line

  • mwong1025 January 24th, 2012 5:53 PM

    This post made my day. As a person who suffered from a combination of eating disorders, society anxiety disorder, depression and low self-esteem(yes, I have a lot of issues thanks to society), I keep telling myself not to give a fuck about what people think and never manage to do so.

    I agree that that Hollywood and fashion magazines cause a lot of low self-esteem issues, and this is coming from a fashion blogger. The lack of encouragement for diversity, along with Photoshop, is one of the many things that I’m angered about. I met a lot of people, both on- and offline that are scare to both who they are because of what other people think, whether it is due to their sexuality, weight or whatsoever.

    Bravo, Tavi, for writing one of the best post I have ever read. And not being like Seventeen magazine and telling me bullshit like “be yourself!” and “don’t care about what other people think!” in neon pink fonts.

  • Hannnah January 24th, 2012 6:21 PM

    “Feminism isn’t about pretending we all feel like Wonder Woman, it’s about being honest when we don’t, and having the conversation on why that is.” this line made me weep a bit and I’m not sure why. But in a good way.

  • Antosia January 24th, 2012 6:28 PM

    Your emotions are your only true guidance in life. When you stop listening to them is when you start needing other people’s opinions to fill that missing hole of guidance. Do what feels right. People often wonder how they can stop caring about what other people think. You can’t really stop caring about anything. But you can start caring about what you feel.

  • Violet January 24th, 2012 6:28 PM

    I loved this article.
    Recently I went through a total change of wardrobe to feel more comfortable at work. The first days it was a bit awkward (kept wondering: is this too daring? too short? too contemporary? should girls wear something else at work to hope to be taken seriously and start a constructive carrier?). Then it started being just GREAT. I felt so good because my clothes were not bothering me during long hours at the office, and I had finally internalized the fact that if I looked happy and proud about my looks, then it wouldn’t be a problem for anyone. (well, let’s wait a few months and see about my salary raise / responsibilities – fingers crossed).

    BTW: Now I am expecting the next photo shoot on Rookie to DARE be about fat non-white girls.

    Will you be brave enough, Rookie?



  • chelsear January 24th, 2012 6:49 PM

    Thank you for posting this article. I especially like the section about dressing for yourself and not for anyone else. This is a philosophy that I try to carry out on a daily bases and I get hell for it from my friends. They scrutinize every inch of what I wear. They’re not doing it meanly, of course, but what I don’t think they understand is that I genuinely don’t care whether they like what I’m wearing or not. If I did, I would have stopped wearing bell bottoms or velvet maxi skirts ages ago. I’m constantly called weird (for my clothes, my personality, my hobbies, whatever – I often find that one will dismiss something she doesn’t understand as weird ) and I take it as the biggest compliment. “Weird” has become synonymous with “an individual”, something I am proud to be.

    Further, I’m glad you talked about the words “hipster” and “artsy”, both of which I’ve been accused of on several occasions. I cringe at those words as they’ve taken genuine value out of the things I’ve always enjoyed and turned them into something shallow and fake. It’s quite ironic that those words have turned into the opposite of what they’re supposed to mean.

    Those friends that make fun of what I wear tell me on other occasions that they admire my fashion sense and consider me a “fashionista” (yet another cringe-worthy term). I think that the bottom line is, even if you wear something that someone else doesn’t like or understand, they admire you and perhaps are even envious of you for being brave enough and have enough confidence to do so.


  • saranev January 24th, 2012 6:53 PM

    The support and love of the blogger who commented above kind of made me tear up omg I’m feeling really sappy and just want to cry all the time and eat chocolate shaped like the Rookie editors because I love you all

  • January 24th, 2012 7:02 PM

    I like all of this a lot! But I think you’re especially spot on, Tavi, when you suggest, at different points, that a lot of power sort of lives in your own head, and in your own feelings about yourself. People might have some opinion about how you look, or what you do, but that’s just a tiny, tiny part of who you are, on one particular day, at one particular moment in time. People have so much more going on than what one insensitive person might choose to comment on. And I think that a lot of strength and confidence can be found by remembering that. So yeah, thanks for helping me…remember that! :-)

  • Nomi January 24th, 2012 7:05 PM

    but what if the only person you really know of who hates you is yourself, and you don’t know how to change that?

    • bellaugly January 25th, 2012 12:36 PM

      I think I know what you mean. Even if people like me, which in general they do, I can’t like myself. And I don’t want to be liked, it just confuses me because I feel like it can’t be true. I haven’t figured out a way out of that feeling. I’ve had some success in ignoring it though, just pretending like I am someone else who I don’t have to hate all the time.

  • starlessviolet January 24th, 2012 7:15 PM

    Is there any way to find the Miss Representation documentary online? I went to the website and watched the trailer, and it looks absolutely fascinating.

  • starmonkey January 24th, 2012 7:16 PM

    Oh, Tavi. I realize that your intended audience is other teenagers, but I (as a person in her 30′s) just have to tell you how ridiculously wise you are. Thank you so much for speaking the truth, for giving amazing perspective and for being the smarty mcsmarterson that you are, always.

  • Chloe Elizabeth January 24th, 2012 7:28 PM

    These subjects of caring and not caring and branching out and being a hipster all confuse me. I like what I like, I try to look how I want, and whether thats influenced a whole bunch by the media, I’ll never know. Probably. But its what I like. My boyfriend likes to accuse me of hipster-ism for this or that reason. I stole Tavi’s line of AM I NOT ALLOWED TO LIKE ANYTHING EVER!? He saw my point, finally.

  • umyeahok January 24th, 2012 7:30 PM

    This article is everything I’ve ever wanted to say to myself but never knew how. I find myself thinking twice about most decisions I make and seeking the approval of others (mostly my parents, even though I’m a 20-year-old woman) before taking a plunge. It’s self-sabotage, and pretty ridiculous. I’ll definitely be making an effort to care less from now on (yay for oxymorons!) :)

    Thank you so much, Tavi!


  • emilyelizabeth January 24th, 2012 7:35 PM

    i loved this! in high school, i always wanted to be one of those people who didn’t care what other people thought, but i was never confident enough to wear anything crazy (i also had a uniform, so…)
    now that i’m in college, i wear more weird stuff and i’ve found that people actually compliment me on it! maybe it’s because i wear it with confidence?

    anyway, great great article, tavi! you’re so insightful!

  • queserasera January 24th, 2012 7:38 PM

    I love every word of this. words of wisdom, for sure.

  • hillary January 24th, 2012 7:39 PM

    “It’s inconvenient to seek out communities and role models who make you feel good about yourself when there’s all this other crap all around you.”



  • TessAnnesley January 24th, 2012 7:52 PM

    Ok so we should just take all the awards (Oscars, Pulitzer Prizes, Girl Scout sashes, tiaras, seven-foot-pageant trophies etc)


    you guys just keep getting awesomer and awesomer
    I can really relate to this article, particularly the bit about “hipsters” – UGH STORY OF MY LIFE. When I was younger (like seven) I was called a freak for being raised on Joni Mitchell and carrying a camera everywhere (annoying precocious child = me), then when I got older I thought “Yay! People will grow up and not do that anymore because they’re too mature riggghhhttt?”
    then “omg what are you a hipster” happened
    and FML

    • MissKnowItAll January 24th, 2012 8:00 PM

      I agree!
      I hate how other teen magazines make you feel bad for being a certain way and pretty much tell you who to be.

  • fizzingwhizbees January 24th, 2012 8:07 PM

    Tavi, this is amazing. I really needed this. I suffer from really chronic self-esteem issues, and I try to dress the way I like but a lot of the time I freak out and feel like people will stare at me and end up wearing the same shirt for the millionth time. I recently bought some really out-there stuff at a thrift store and I’ve been too nervous to wear any of it…maybe tomorrow I will.

  • Chimdi January 24th, 2012 8:11 PM

    OH MY GOSH. This is so good.

    I think that you touched on something people NEVER talk about: the whole “all amazing protagonists are skinny.” Seriously!

    After seeing how skinny Suzy’s legs were in the Moonrise Kingdom trailer, I have been eating nothing but fruit and dried fruit and exercising, because although this is REALLY embarrassing to say, who doesn’t want to be INTERESTING?

    Also tumblr constantly promotes skinny girls (besides feminist tumblrs but you know what I mean.) Ex. Widespread admiration of “Skinny Love.”

  • Kaleidoscopeeyes January 24th, 2012 8:15 PM

    I swear to god it’s like you guys read my journals and then post these articles. You always have exactly what I need for whatever I’m going through.

  • vadergurl January 24th, 2012 8:17 PM

    This is my favorite Rookie article yet!!! <3 <3 xoxoxo

  • hannahna January 24th, 2012 8:29 PM


    You are wonderful.

    I was extraordinarily fortunate to have an extremely supportive family that encouraged & celebrated dressing, thinking and acting however I pleased. While that resulted in my not giving a rat’s arse about how folks felt about my exterior (wore most ridiculous pants and fell down the stairs multiple times in high school without shame) it didn’t change my desire/need to be accepted and liked for my inside bits. I keep my cards close to my heart and am not quick to voice my opinions no matter how popular or unpopular they are. Something I hope I can eventually change :).

    Oh but let me tell you about my incredibly rad little sister! She’s six, wears socks as armwarmers, popped the lenses out of 3d glasses and wears them to school, dresses herself in multiple patterns & when her pants (all of them) fell down at school in front of everybody she howled with laughter along with her peers. I made her a rookie headband for christmas and she loved it! Baby rookie reader.


  • maggiemadge January 24th, 2012 8:34 PM

    Great article, Tavi! I wish someone would have told me these things when I was your age. I totally know what you mean about being “someone with a story” and being thin. I’ve struggled with feeling good about my body and how comfortable I feel inside of it. Especially when I come from a family of people that are smaller than me. Granted I’m a size 12, but I still feel huge at times compared to the rest of my family. The one thing that has really helped me step out is joining roller derby. It is an amazing sport that is not only fun and badass, but embraces all types of women. If you (or anyone reading this comment) gets the chance, I highly recommend going to a bout (what a game is called) and/or watch the movie “Whip It” like I did. The movie is not just about roller derby, but about finding what makes you happy and becoming the person you are. I have found so many parts about me that I feel more like myself than I ever had in my entire life. I realized that I can be a little bitchy and swear like a sailor… but I like it. There’s something kind of awesome about not giving a rat’s ass what people think. I still get get down on myself, but I think that is a struggle that everyone faces in life. The one thing everyone can do is just do what makes them happy. Anything, dating who you want to date, wearing what you want to wear, est. I want to end with a quote from “Whip It”- “Be your own hero”.

  • sovietkitsch January 24th, 2012 8:50 PM

    I’ve been thinking what to say about this article for 30 min now, but my mind is still processing everything and somehow I’m feeling kinda powerful and yet frightened! But it’s kinda of a weird great feeling, you know?

    I’ve always had this problem with being too skinny too (I mean, people are always “motivating” girls that consider themselves as “overweight” by degrating the skinny ones! There is no logic!), and trying to blend and not being noticed at school so no one would have anything to think about me.
    But then it just got boring. I wanted to be what I wanted to be.
    And then – BOOM! – I discovered the whole world of feminism and riot grrrl bands and zines and then Rookie and then this beautiful article!
    And school starts for me next week and what at first was a nightmare now feels kinda exciting! (Not too exciting tho, it’s still school, ya know)

    Also, Tavi, can we be friends please so we can just talk about Virgin Suicides all day and all those little details oh god I’m such a creep

  • Reba January 24th, 2012 8:56 PM

    oh my bod i’m crying. you just summed up my lyphe. thank you.

  • crimsonandclover January 24th, 2012 9:13 PM

    This kind of came at a really perfect time. I love this, because it acknowledges that yeah, sometimes it’s really hard to think you’re awesome every waking moment of the day, even if you really are. I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently, and I’ve realized that I really can’t keep waiting until college to actually be myself and have life begin. I go to a really small high school, so sometimes it’s hard to just not care what people think because there are so few of them that you can’t just ignore everyone. Like today, when people were seriously concerned about my mental health because I was wearing all black and channeling the beatniks. It’s like really guys? I’m wearing cat eyes. But the small school thing is really no excuse– so thanks for this. It was very needed. This is what I love so much about Rookie– every time I check it, it has something that’s just perfect, like a little secret goodie.

  • mondoheather January 24th, 2012 9:17 PM

    It is articles like this that can save lives and hearts. I once told a friend who was fretting over what one or another jerk thought of her and I told her never to care about what the unworthy think.

  • Kaleidoscopeeyes January 24th, 2012 9:18 PM

    Sweet, just got a ton of brand new mantras and comebacks. Thanks Tavi!

    “Maybe I don’t feel like being pretty for you today.”
    -Nicki Minaj

  • marit January 24th, 2012 9:28 PM

    thanks, i needed this.

  • Squibsley January 24th, 2012 9:29 PM

    You asked “Can we get a list going in the comments of characters like this?”
    I like Ashley Judd sprinting at the end of Double Jeopardy and Jennifer Garner’s character doing hand to hand combat in The Kingdom. Those are just physically strong females who I find are good to think about when I’m at the gym. But there must be some emotionally/spiritually cool female characters too. This is going to be my thing to think about this week…

  • dearmia January 24th, 2012 9:36 PM

    Thanks so much for this, Tavi. I (along with every female ever) have been struggling with my self-esteem for forever. I never looked like any of the girls at my school, since I have dark, curly hair and glasses and (try to) wear what I want. All the girls at school wear Hollister and have straight hair and have tans and wear uggs and ugh, not me.

    And then there are girls who dress really, really nice and I feel like I have to compete. It’s so embarrassing to admit, but it’s true. I always feel like I’m being compared. I feel like people will eventually prefer them over me. I know it’s not true, but I can’t help but think that way.

    Oh well. I try to keep a positive attitude and not let people know I’m insecure. I try to channel Meryl Streep circa The Devil Wears Prada when I walk into school. They buy it everrrryyy time! Hah

  • Kayelle January 24th, 2012 9:45 PM

    YES. YES. YES. This is what we all need to think about ourselves when we look in the mirror. This is one of the most inspiring things i’ve read in a long time, I think this blog has officially made me an all-around better person. (It also reminds me of the time that I wore a cape to school on halloween!)

  • Eve4565 January 24th, 2012 9:46 PM

    Just what I needed. You just completely put into words all of my thoughts and organized them so well! Do what you want/what makes you happy. If neon hair crazy tights make you happy, wear ‘em Gosh Darnnit!

    And definitely check out Elle King, she’s the most authentic, talented, and comfortable in your own skin as it gets! Love watching her perform. Such a great role model

  • Eve4565 January 24th, 2012 10:09 PM

    ALSO Elle Fanning’s interview in this month’s Teen Vogue is particularly inspiring. She’s cool and quirky and does dresses how she wants and doesn’t give a gamn and always looks awesome, but even if she decides to wear sweatpants one day, I don’t think anyone would give her any shit about it, since SHE knows it’s not a big deal if she just wants to be laid back for a second.

    She also happens to have had the honor of being a Sofia Coppola character, so maybe that makes it a bit easier for her in real life…Just a thought :)

  • tankgrrrl January 24th, 2012 10:14 PM

    I don’t have enough positive words to say how good this is. Every single bit of it is so good and wonderful and feels so much like my own experience. This might be my favourite thing on Rookie.

  • juliette January 24th, 2012 10:31 PM

    THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER WRITTEN EVER OK. Thankyou so much for writing this, Tavi. I don’t even know what else to write, it is perfect.

  • standtogether11 January 24th, 2012 10:43 PM

    I have these thoughts every day. But I’ve never been all that confident about how valid they actually are. So I salute (and hug) you, Tavi, for putting yours up here.
    Especially agree with the hipster thing. Not to be one of those assholes on the sidelines who whines about “hipster culture,” but I’m sick of people thinking that an “indie” outfit is what you need to be a person.

  • Tiffany January 24th, 2012 10:58 PM

    so straightforward and so true this is amazing!!!

  • Adrienne January 24th, 2012 11:08 PM

    Thanks Tavi. This is amazing. I think we teenage girls often forget how much we actually bring ourselves down. Comparing is stupid. Conforming is stupid.
    Last year, (the year I started high school) I couldn’t help but hate how I looked. I struggled with my own image. I felt ugly, I believed that having a boyfriend would prove otherwise. Now, as a sophomore, I’m feeling way more comfortable with the way I look, and wearing what I want to wear. :)

  • Faith January 24th, 2012 11:12 PM

    I can’t tell you how much I really needed this. Thank you Tavi. I guess you could say I’m at that stage of where I’m still trying to break free from the rock I live under. I give people who have a really unique style who dress “weird” a lot of respect. Sometimes I feel too coward to dress how I want to; you know “weird,” and I guess I don’t have the courage to… or the confidence. I always had this sick mentality that I had to be skinnier and pretty to start dressing how I wanted to. Pretty sad, but now thank goodness I don’t think like that anymore. I suffer from what a lot of girls have, a low self esteem, and I’m going to try to follow this really great piece of advice. I could really use the “brainwashing” myself that I really don’t care what others think. Thank You Rookiemag and Tavi especially.

  • back2thepast January 25th, 2012 12:11 AM

    There will always be a piece of me that watches the opinion of everyone I pass, but I believe this will make acceptance of myself a bit easier. And the fact that you can do that in a couple paragraphs is amazing. Tavi you are one worthy to be on everyone’s list of role models. Thanks so much

  • Mags January 25th, 2012 12:12 AM

    You are amazing.

  • Tavi January 25th, 2012 12:18 AM

    Thanks guys, I’m really glad this could be helpful to someone. Keep supporting each other and being rad like you are, etc. <3

  • Thepunkrocker January 25th, 2012 12:37 AM

    T. The Tavi Network. That could work.

    And PS. That has just boosted up my self confidence so much.

  • joywest January 25th, 2012 1:28 AM

    Hey Tavi – this is a really great article, maybe the best I’ve seen yet. I especially loved this part: “Apparently, your story is only worth hearing, you’re only someone, if you’re skinny—it’s like, the blueprint of a human.”
    But, but… what about all the rookie photoshoots that are of skinny girls? What about girls who aren’t just “not stick-thin”? It seems like the photos show two types of girls: really thin ones and moderately thin ones. Where are the photographs of girls who aren’t conventionally attractive or who don’t have the privilege of being slender? I say privilege because that’s what it’s considered in this society, not because being skinny is actually any better or more beautiful than being anything else. All bodies are beautiful, and if rookie knows that, why doesn’t rookie show it?

    • Rosella January 26th, 2012 6:19 AM

      If you’d read the comments on the rookie photoshoots that you allude to, you’ll see your point has been made a few times and the Rookie staff members have considerately replied that they would love to represent us all but so often their shoots have zero budget and they just have to use their sisters and friends, though they are definitely working on it. Just a general paraphrase. I completely agree with you that a wider range of body types should be represented in the media, but perhaps here you are preaching to the converted?

  • Alicia delle grazie January 25th, 2012 2:24 AM

    I’ve been reading Rookie on and off for a while (and since I’m technically still a teen for the next 12 days, that’s not weird), and I’m glad I came back tonight because this was a really great article. Not all of it applies to me — for instance, I’ve never related to really using fashion as self-expression (though I can appreciate it when others do) — but overall, I really like that message. And I sort of love the quotation.

    In case anyone’s interested, I recently wrote an essay about not hating yourself — — that was published in Teen Ink magazine. Not as awesome as Tavi’s. But still, it came from my brain/personality/soul/that stuff, and so it makes me happy. =]

    • Anaheed January 25th, 2012 2:27 AM

      That is a really great piece, Alicia. Everyone go read it!

    • Tavi January 25th, 2012 6:36 PM

      Yes, please read this!

    • Alicia delle grazie January 25th, 2012 6:55 PM

      Thanks, Anaheed and Tavi, for taking the time to read my essay. I’m glad you enjoyed it. :)

    • MissKnowItAll January 31st, 2012 9:11 PM

      Wow, I love your piece. Keep on writing!

  • rslev January 25th, 2012 2:30 AM

    All I can say is thank you. Sometimes I feel like I”m hindering myself by constantly fearing what others think of me. Rookie shows me that I can love myself and that I don’t need to make others love me.

  • FashionPhilosophy January 25th, 2012 2:57 AM

    I really like this post. A LOT. 1 year ago, I was afraid to wear what i wanted to. Because every time I did, my classmates laughed at me, and said some unpleasant things. I really hated my class (sorry guys), and then I found your blog Tavi, which gave me a lot more confident. I know that you didn’t wrote posts like this on your blog, but just your style expressed ”CONFIDENT” for me.I got inspired, and today, I wear what I want to. I’ve pink hair and I feel a lot more confident, plus I’ve started on a new school, where I get compliments all the time, and have a blog with my classmate Laura. Thank you a lot.

  • CarolineGraceS January 25th, 2012 3:57 AM

    This is THE best article I’ve ever read. I might just read it every day of my life.
    I agree that wanting to be someone else is bad a tragedy. But succeeding at becoming someone else- that’s the biggest tragedy.
    I respect insecure people who know they are insecure and accept it.
    Brooke Davis from One Tree Hill, and Caroline Forbes from The Vampire Diaries are two wonderful example of those type of people. The actress that play them, Sophia Bush & Candice Accola, are also great inspirations.
    The entire “Someone expecting you to care that they care” is so true! It’s also SO high school and overrated and personally I think it’s the tell of an insecure person.
    I think that anyone that ever wants to change anything about themselves cares somehow what other people think. But I believe it should be embraced. Maybe I do want to be skinnier because subconsciously I know that I will get more respect and whatnot. But I am aware of that fact and I don’t let it control me. I also want to be physically fit& that is what is driving my want.
    Now excuse me while I print this out, blow it up, and plaster it to my walls. (:
    Much love.

  • StreetLegalSpaceship January 25th, 2012 4:23 AM

    Tavi, I’m almost positive that I saw you at the Portlandia live show in Chicago. I was there taking pictures for an Indianapolis magazine. I got to talk to Fred Armisen after the show, which was awesome. Anyways. I hope it actually was you, and you were there, because the live show was great. Truly.

    • Tavi January 25th, 2012 6:35 PM

      Yep I was there! It was really fun.

  • kate January 25th, 2012 5:41 AM

    why is this not published on every single magazine…

  • elphie January 25th, 2012 8:23 AM

    I’m twenty-one yet I’m still trying to figure out who I am and what I want to be–but then I realize that life is a process of trying to figure out who you are and who you want to be.

    I guess it’s not so bad.

  • giov January 25th, 2012 12:36 PM

    I’m pretty sure I am going to be working on these issues until I am as old as those uber cool ladies (if I get to get there, of course) but that is OK, because hopefully our daughters (and sons!) will have it better, just like we’re having it better than our mothers in so many respects (and worst in others) (wait, does this even make sense?).

    p.s. hey I’m 22 and I read Rookie for the teen girl that is in me (and makes up at least ninety per cent of my person). How’s that weird? Let’s not be ageist, people.

  • saltwater January 25th, 2012 12:57 PM


    That point about female protagonists always being thin (and often attractive and WASP-y) even in niche culture isn’t something I’d considered too deeply before but it is so accurate.
    I’m also so pleased that you advocated the tumblr body acceptance community because, for the most part, it is awesome.

  • Matilda January 25th, 2012 1:04 PM

    I’m myself in school with my friends;
    - Laughing loudly and making it sounding psycotic witch in only a couple of seconds make people develope a 3 meter radar around me.
    - Ranting uncontrollable about the Columbine Massacre and the minds of Eric and Dylan, the shooters.
    - Drawing MOCKINGJAYS on my wrists and walking around showing them in everyones faces. Srsly, I always get asked if it’s a real tattoo (I’m surrounded by idiotas).
    - Copying the dancemoves of the cheerleaders in Bring It On with various results.
    - Sitting on the floor in the hallway and screaming at other people when they walk by. They get TERRIFIED. Try it sometimes, it’s funny.
    At home:
    - Sitting quietly.
    - Eating Dinner.
    - Doing homework.
    - Going to bed.

  • alix January 25th, 2012 1:40 PM

    This was an interesting article but I’ve found myself going full circle. First I cared if people liked what I wore. Then I stopped caring and wore what I wanted. Then people diliked it, and I started to thrive on their disapproval and started to dress in a way that I liked but also in a way that I knew others wouldn’t, so in a way I still care what they think. Its so confusing. And its like I’ve gotten so mixed up in this circle that I almost forget when I started dressing for other people again, and I don’t know how to break the cycle. Its so hard to not care, and its not like I have body issues or whatever, I mean obviously I have bad days/moments, but overall I’m happy with the way I look. But when people constantly give you their opinion (even when you don’t want to hear it) eventually you start to listen to them, by either dressing the way they want you to or by rebelling against them and dressing your way, but either way you were influenced by someone else. And I’m starting to think that this comment has no point and that there is no way to avoid being influenced/caring. And exhale! phew.

  • KayKay January 25th, 2012 2:22 PM

    Thank you for this inspiring article!
    Love the quote, “Self-esteem is for sissies. Accept that you’re a pimple and try to keep a lively sense of humor about it. That way lies grace—and maybe even glory.”
    I agree with your feelings about the whole “Everyone is beautiful” thing; it just doesn’t help/work. It’s like telling someone suffering from depression to cheer up.

  • Solveig January 25th, 2012 3:58 PM

    “It is so, so important that influential female people and characters who are not conventional, in their looks and/or personality, exist. Pop culture, and just images, make a huge difference in how people think, and watch Miss Representation if you’re not sure you believe me.”

    YES!!! It’s exactly THAT!

    “In reality, of course, plenty of women are both smart and pretty, funny and feminine, etc. This is why pop culture needs more strong female characters. Not like, I’m a superhero and I’m supersexy and STRONG and my boobs look really good in this catsuit but oh wait I’m totally two-dimensional. Like, multifaceted, with many layers. Like, you know, human. Can we get a list going in the comments of characters like this? Mad Men is great because its women are just as multidimensional as the men. I love Lena Dunham for writing characters like this. I love the characters of Ghost World and Dreamgirls and The Royal Tenenbaums. ”

    Tavi, that kind of characters are much too rare, and it’s a pity! And in some countries, they’re totally absent, which is horrible and makes societal pressure overwhelming.

    What to do? I come from Spain and can’t think of any Enid, Daria, Margo, Veronica or Darlene created here… I live on imports of this foreign stuff because I can’t identify with anything in my country.

    Despite a strong political presence, here women still appear in the media only as a tokenism. Even so-called alternative culture and hipsters are sexist! Boo.

  • flowerpunk January 25th, 2012 4:03 PM

    Ha, I love how I could tell this was written by Tavi.

  • nina19 January 25th, 2012 4:54 PM

    thank you so much for this. I’ve been working on upping my confidence levels lately and this article came at just the right time! I’ve finally reached the point where I can say that I want to do my own thing and stop caring about what other people think of me. My last step is to finally have the guts to dress the way I’d like. The kids at my school don’t tend to accept people who are “different”, so I’ve been hesitant to express myself through my clothes, but I realized that I shouldn’t hold myself back because of some stupid girls I’m not going to see again after I graduate. Thanks for always helping at the right time and for reminding me that I’m not the only one dealing with these things

  • Solveig January 25th, 2012 4:59 PM

    Here I go again, some names to be added to the list.

    - CAITLIN MORAN!!! I just love her. Every teen (every human, full stop) should read her book. Trivia: there’s a fantastic pic of the heroine of Downton Abbey reading it on set… Suzy Quattro was spotted reading it on a Eurostar train… and she’s pals with Lady Gaga! Silly details apart, just read first chapter and judge by yourself…

    And I appreciate the fact that she comes from a music review background (once a very tough turf to play for a girl).

    - Just like LAUREN LAVERNE! (from pop-grrl band Kenickie; radio host, now writes in the Guardian). A left wing, cultural divulgator, fashion hero.

    - POSY SYMMONDS comic books (esp. Tamara Drew, film is ok too).

    - LUELLA and her book on English style.

    - PRE-CODE FILMS. Joan Blondell and Barbara Stanwyck are my favourites.

    - ROOKIE MAG! I think I read somewhere that BUST magazine editors bonded initially over their love for SASSY: they could relate more to this teen mag, lucid and fun, than to soul-destroying adult magazines.

    Well, now… it’s YOU who keep attracting readers from all ages, and from all over the world, because of that very reason.

    So Rookie Mag staff, thank you, thank you very much, for your sanity, sense of humour and for spreading the love for worthy stuff: you’re just BRILLIANT!!

    • Miarele January 26th, 2012 7:52 AM

      I LOVE YOUR LIST! I’m already researching Caitlin Moran right now and definitely gonna check out the other amazing women too. This is what I love about Rookie, awesome readers sharing their even more awesome taste ;) Thank you for the references!

  • Solveig January 25th, 2012 5:06 PM

    Tumbler with excerpts, pics, videos and twitterisms…

  • beautifulscarletts January 25th, 2012 5:12 PM

    first of all thanks for your inspirational writing! if i could get every teenager to read this i would. confidence is so important and it really shows when your a teenager. suddenly our bodies change and boys want to get a peek and its scary exposing your body to somebody else!
    im very lucky to have always been quite confident even as a teenager but i have found that im unfortunately one of the exceptions. my friends are constantly having crisises about how they look, start crying in changing rooms, refuse to leave the house coz theyre having an awful day. i always tell my friends to fake confidence and it really works. i might be confident but i also have off days when my hair just isnt doing what i want etc but i just smile and keep my head high. i think it helps that im very skinny naturally. so i look at magazines and think yeah im as skinny as her. tbh i wish i could be abit bigger but ive come to terms that this is how i am and i just want any girls who think being skinny is everything that its not. it wont make youre life complete. you gotta work on your confidence from the inside. i know lots of unconfidence amazing people and it upsets me so much.
    i just love this article! thanks for sharing and inspiring so many people. im defo gonna become a regular reader of this blog x

  • ohdolefulgirl January 25th, 2012 5:21 PM


  • stylepukka January 25th, 2012 7:44 PM

    this page just got bookmarked and i’ll always think of this whenever i’m walking around school with socks higher than my ankle.

    thank you.

  • annagracie January 25th, 2012 7:52 PM

    This came at the perfect time, because I’m doing a project at school on the topic “Damaging Societal Messages for Teenage Girls” and this gave me ideas. Before, I was just focusing on like, the “average girl” who reads magazines, watches reality TV, listens to “mainstream” pop-y music, strives to follow trends, etc. and how society affects that type of girl, but this post made me realize that that isn’t the only type of girl I should be focusing on! I don’t read magazines, watch reality TV (or TV in general really), and I certainly could never tell you the names of the Top Songs on iTunes, but I do have a Tumblr, and I do watch old movies, and read books, etc. and my overall self-image and self-confidence is absolutely affected by society! I just made my project a lot harder for myself, but that’s okay, because I want to try to do justice to the topic, like you did in this post. Thank you, Tavi. This is great!

    P.S. I have to interview someone (by email, most likely) any ideas? In addition to realistic ones, completely unrealistic suggestions are welcomed as well :)

  • loonylizzy January 25th, 2012 9:08 PM

    this was so inspiring and empowering and beautifully written and such… i’ve definitely got the dressing weird and genuinely not caring part down…. apparently pairing enormous sweaters with fishnets and a tutu is frowned upon at my school. my reaction: perhaps i enjoy looking like a grandma ballerina hooker. deal.
    oh, and i just made a blog, so if you’re willing to bear with me until i figure it all out, follow me!!

    thanks for being badass, Rookie

  • Julia845 January 25th, 2012 10:05 PM

    Tavi, this was such a lovely article! You did a great job putting into words s process that is very difficult to describe. good job, and thank you so much for writing this.

  • Hedwig January 25th, 2012 10:52 PM

    Thank you!!12112!!

  • diana94 January 25th, 2012 11:03 PM

    seriously tavi when i have my own magazine here in Mexico ill use this website as a model every ” live through this” is amazing! so different from what we always hear ad read and understandable too

  • Jenny January 26th, 2012 2:55 AM


  • Rosella January 26th, 2012 6:04 AM

    Tavi, the deal with Black Swan! That is exactly it! I have been trying to figure out for so long why it made me uncomfortable, because it definitely wasn’t the bisexuality or Winona with her wonderful crazy eyes. And when she put that nail file through her face?! All good.
    The whole way they fetishised the virginal-vulnerable aspects of Natalie’s character, and yet we were supposed to be so turned on by her deviancy-rebellion, man it was unhealthy, and not in the way they meant it to be. This is inarticulate, but such a revelation for me – I knew it couldn’t have just been her pulling out her fingernails/feathers that creeped me out so much. Thank you!
    Tom Robbins is an excellent dude to quote. I love Another Roadside Attraction; his character Amanda is a really strong female character for your list. She’s quite pregnant for a fair bit of it, but otherwise her weight is never a point of interest.
    Great article!

  • Miarele January 26th, 2012 7:49 AM

    Wow I’m so late to the party but I just would like to give my deepest gratitude: THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR WRITING THIS ARTICLE. It came at such a perfect moment and it’s very helpful to get me by through the current situation.

    The part about the pressure to “keep up” is something that is rarely touched but is actually very real. I agree with a previous comment that body image isn’t always about getting skinny, here in Asia girls are constantly striving to be taller and doing a plethora of methods to get whiter skin. It’s such a depressing issue that girls could find so many thing wrong with their body. :(

    Anyway, I’m definitely bookmarking this article! I might even print it out and stick it to my daily journal so I can read it whenever. Lots of love for Rookie :)

  • Kaetlebugg January 26th, 2012 9:41 AM

    YES. Just another tidbit to all those girls who think that they should be skinny because skinny = healthy: SKINNY DOES NOT NECESSARILY EQUAL HEALTHY. YOU CAN BE HEALTHY WITHOUT BEING SKINNY. IT IS POSSIBLE. Lots of people think that there is some entirely objective, unequivocally true body of knowledge/science that proves that the only way to be healthy is to be skinny. THIS IS NOT TRUE. There is still a lot of debate & study going on in the scientific community about this! Google fat-positive blogs & do some research because it is entirely possible to be healthy and beautiful and wonderful without conforming to society’s narrow standards!

  • kittehpants January 26th, 2012 12:14 PM

    @joywest, I agree. Where are the Rookie photoshoots with, e.g., “overweight” girls dressed as fairies?

    I appreciate what Tavi says about how there’s room in feminism for girls with insecurities, and that sometimes it helps just to talk to each other about our body image insecurities. But may I submit that a big problem here–not just with Rookie, but with those “all body types are beautiful!” campaigns–is that the focus is on how your body LOOKS. If you’re conventionally beautiful, you’re beautiful; if you’re indy and weird, well you’re beautiful too. But why not shift the focus from what your body looks like to what your body can DO? Why no posts celebrating the millions of forms of dancing, hula-hooping, playing basketball? The amazing sense of confidence and feeling of accomplishment that comes from yoga or the simple joy of running? I have a feeling it’s because you tacitly view physical activity and smartness as mutually exclusive. Or it’s because if Tavi doesn’t do it, then it’s not worth talking about. That’s horribly sad.

    • kittehpants January 26th, 2012 12:32 PM

      I should also mention that I was a shy, sad teen/twenty-something with an awkward body and even worse personality. I was terrible at parties. Then I learned to hoop dance–something I never thought I’d be able to do. But, amazingly, I learned through YouTube tutorials. And guess what? It did amazing things for my confidence. Somehow I managed to mesmerize people around me with my cool moves, and the music never sounded/felt so good in my life when I achieved that incredible, physical flow. And–most importantly–it helped me relate to people in ways I couldn’t have imagined. It was all about what my body could DO, and not about how my body LOOKED. I believe it was Michelangelo who once said something about how man is at his most beautiful in motion, while woman is at her most beautiful when still. It seems like too many people still believe that. It’s so not true.

    • Anaheed January 26th, 2012 1:53 PM

      All articles that encourage moving your body around in some form or other. (An incomplete list.)

      • kittehpants January 26th, 2012 2:08 PM

        These bits and pieces confirm that the overwhelming focus of this magazine is on the visual, aural, and mental. Just something to think about; there’s always room for improvement. I look forward to, e.g., a first-person account of a girl who joined a boy’s soccer team (plenty of feminist fodder there), or story on a group of girls who started a hoop-dance program for inner-city youth, or a girl’s first hiking trip (preferably one where she’s not out in the woods wearing a dress on a photo shoot).

      • Anaheed January 26th, 2012 2:32 PM

        It’s true that we stress pursuits that don’t get covered a lot in other media for teenage girls. That’s because we don’t exist in a vacuum, and we are aware of what’s lacking out there in the world. We’re trying to fill a void. Every teen magazine you pick up (except Teen Vogue, actually) will have at least one article about exercise in every issue. Usually two. But nothing about how to buy your first guitar. You know what I mean?

        That said, if anyone wants to pitch us a story about any of the stuff you mentioned, our submissions address is


  • timi January 26th, 2012 12:46 PM

    so cute and deep, i love the honesty and openness, reading this is heartwarming

  • flowerchild49 January 26th, 2012 3:58 PM

    And now, less insular do I feel dressing like a DuWop Daisy Schoolgirl in a sea of preppies. More of a paragon, more of a goddess, more of a whip.

  • erin January 26th, 2012 7:29 PM

    This was one of those rare articles that as I was reading, and scrolling, I was very anxious, hoping that the next paragraph wouldn’t be the last. This article was fabulous!
    I totally think it’s a process, learning to be confident in yourself and to develop your interests. It took me way into high school to start wearing what I wanted to wear, and to just stop considering other people in my outfits. Clothes, I think, are a perfect reflection of how you feel about yourself, and honestly, I love the things I wear, and I love my body, something I couldn’t have said a few years ago.
    Also, as I was reading this, some kids were giving speeches in my class (I know, I’m so respectful of others) about confidence. And they said that it really helps other people if you compliment them. And that’s so true. I always used to feel good when someone said my weird blue shoes were really cool. So I try to encourage people I see dressing a little differently, because it could help them feel comfortable enough to start broadening their horizons, so to speak.
    This is just a wonderful article, and I think everyone should have the goal to like who they are.

  • willow January 26th, 2012 9:57 PM

    This article makes me lament even more the fact that I didn’t have something like Rookie when I was in high school. I recently gave the link to Rookie to my 16 year old sister and she loves it and I’m so glad she’ll have a resource like this and hopefully she’ll be able to navigate high school feeling slightly less like “omg wtf is even wrong with me” than I did.
    Also, I’m very tempted to make myself a “Miss I Don’t Care” sash

  • KusterBeaton January 26th, 2012 10:13 PM

    Everyone needs to know about Lena Dunham. God, I love her. I just found out that ‘Tiny Furniture’ was included in The Criterion Collection and I could not be more happy or proud. She’s so refreshing and genius.

  • Gwendomouse January 27th, 2012 6:39 AM

    I have always liked bright colours, and worn them, too.
    Wearing ‘weird’ clothes can actually boost your confidence. Because if you dress strangely, or just colourfully, people will think you MUST be very confident, because otherwise you wouldn’t dress that way. They respect you for it, and treat you accordingly. I was the shyest, most insecure teenager imaginable, but wore insanely bright colours and unusual shapes as a suit of armour. It worked. It strangely even helped against that paranoid feeling that everyone was staring at me. ( I had that a lot!) Because I wore ‘crazy’ clothes, I knew WHY they stared. And that made me less insecure.

  • limekitty January 27th, 2012 8:01 AM

    THIS IS AWESOME, just what i needed(and will need)

    I printed this, so I could read it on paper whenever I feel so.

    Thank you Tavi!

    (ps. I so agree with that tumblr and hipster thing)

  • b.stro January 27th, 2012 1:51 PM

    I loooved this!!! I’m 22, but I still feel the pressure to “measure up” to what society expects from girls/women. It’s especially prevalent in the suburban neighborhood I live with my parents in, where basically everyone is a Hollister-Abercrombie-Aeropostale carbon copy of each other. Most adults here still hold on to this notion of feminity that’s stuck in the 50s. UUUUGGHH! Sooo frustratingly small-minded! What really makes me feel happy and confident in myself is my music. When I listen to bands like Contravene, Bread & Water, A.P.P.L.E, Antischism, and sooo many others, I feel 10 ft tall and no one can bring me down. I like em cus their female singers could care less bout bein pretty or “lady-like”. Seriously, awesome. Thanks for writing this and keep up the stellar work!

  • momma January 27th, 2012 5:58 PM

    My daughter sent me this blog and all I can say is it took me almost 50 years to feel the way this young woman does, so write on, girl and change the world!

  • josiehodson January 28th, 2012 12:53 AM

    Thanks for this Tavi,

    This was great. So appropriate that it came out this week. On wednesday I went to school wearing a bunch of fluffy frilly things and OH BOY the reactions. I don’t usually dress “normally” (zbvdvjknweviu i hate that word) but four skirts and a marabou feather belt kind of caught people of guard. The best reactions: “You look like a feather duster,” “You look like Alice down the rabbit hole,” “Your new nickname is Ms. Crumpet,” “It’s My Little Cupcake,” “Giant Toddler,” “So, is that… just like… for fun?” “You either are in the lower middle school or you didn’t do your laundry” “Bo Peep” “Are you dressed as Ms. Muffet?”

    and my absolute favorite (sometimes I wonder if sarcasm carries over the internet) “You love the attention.” Because isn’t it just like PEOPLE to assume that you’re dressing for everyone else and it’s not possible that you’re just dressing like a frilly mess because it makes you happy? Anyways, you told it how it is. Let me just tell you, the whole “…no?” and the faces that make other people feel like idiots come in handy A LOT.

    I wrote about it on the most recent post of my blog:

  • whosaysyournotperfect January 28th, 2012 7:37 AM

    wow! i have got so much inspiration from this post. i love dressing diffrently, but that’s something i usually save for at home. now i realise that, who cares what other people think? i love wearing tutu’s, leapoard print shorts, cute hats and stuff. i experiment as much as i can. ecspecially as most teen magazines talk about such dull outfits. i get what this is saying and i’ll defintely be reading rookie more often. thank you, tavi. you are my role model.

  • stellar January 28th, 2012 1:47 PM

    GREAT blog…Thank u for validating our “inner voice” so powerfully!!

  • MissKnowItAll January 28th, 2012 6:32 PM

    Tavi, you have no idea how much I love you right now.

  • Tanya January 28th, 2012 10:23 PM

    This is why I love Rookie so much.

  • GlassCannon January 29th, 2012 4:07 PM

    I had to register to tell you how much I enjoyed this article. And as a woman who is about a month shy of turning 31, I can tell you that your message is ageless and universal. We’re all striving to be better versions of ourselves, to love ourselves more, and to pay less attention to all of the messages from media that tell us that we’re not good enough. We should all wear what we want and love our bodies and our minds no matter what age we are — 15, 25, 35, 45, 85, we’re all women. We’re imperfect and inconsistent, we’re too shy and too sarcastic, we stand in front of the mirror wondering if we can “get away” with this outfit, instead of questioning whether or not it communicates who we are to the world in the tone we feel like using today.

    But at 15, you have a clarity and a desire to be *you* that it’s taken me literally twice as many years to even come close to grasping. I can only assume that OWN is just waiting until you’re no longer restricted by child labor laws to give you your own show. I know I would watch it. Keep up the good work.


  • Toria Crux January 29th, 2012 5:23 PM

    My friend said that she’s jealous of me because I can wear what I want and not care what people think. (I was wearing a black and white polka dot dress that was originally a Halloween costume! at school. ;) ) I grinned at her and said’ “I do care! I WANT everyone to think I’m crazy! Which they do.”

  • neonilla January 30th, 2012 9:26 AM

    You are so right about the “being a protagonist thing”, i thought i was crazy to think about it this way but you were so insightful when analyzing this whole subject that now it seems to be an evidence in my mind thanks to you. You’re such a beautiful person by the way. Thank you for doing the effort of expressing what’s on your mind, you’re doing a big favor to a lot of people. Take care :)

  • Lela_210 February 1st, 2012 2:12 AM

    There are many things that I hold dear to my heart that are a bit obscure and interesting, but I’ve seen some who may put these off as someone just trying to be pretentious. Of course, without that intention in mind-just another nerd for films and music, etc. it became increasingly bothering for me how off-putting my interests might be to others around me because of how far the term “hipster” has been applied to negatively describe people’s quirks and what-not’s…However, your article has been very inspiring and has reminded me to just not give a bloody care what people think and just keep loving my weirdness-thank you!

  • ams153 February 2nd, 2012 4:02 AM

    I loved this article, thank you xo

  • anunaki February 3rd, 2012 5:02 PM

    This article was so lovely. Thank you, very much!

  • streetcreature February 4th, 2012 2:14 AM

    <333333 Thank you…. thank you thank you thank you… amazing articles. never stop!!!

  • Issmene February 4th, 2012 9:37 AM

    I will conquer, yes :) And you’re awesome, love your thinking. Just saying.

  • Francesca February 5th, 2012 3:38 AM

    I don’t want to spoil the fun, but, I don’t think this is really about how to deal with low self- esteem. When girls have really low self-esteem, they aren’t full of ideas on how to dress, full of interests, and chatting all the time with their friends about what they think and feel. Girls with truly low self-esteem are often withdrawn, numb, and don’t even know half the time what they think, feel or like. This article is for girls with confidence on some level, but who just haven’t found their niche yet. It’s not an illegitimate problem, but it’s not the same thing.

    “How to be Rad” might have been a more honest title.

  • zee February 5th, 2012 7:18 PM

    This is fantastic and ILOVEITILOVEITILOVEIT. It’s actually exactly what I needed today. Honestly, Thanks.

  • robbiybluth February 20th, 2012 12:54 PM

    I love love love rookie. I’m a college senior and still trying to figure this stuff out completely. Thank you for a wonderful, witty, and intelligent article, and remember:

    “Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”
    -Franz Kafka

  • Weeezy April 17th, 2012 7:36 PM

    thankyou thankyou thankyou.

  • Bumblecake April 20th, 2012 4:51 PM

    I loved reading this article! But I do have to agree on some levels with Francesca – because I think that Is one of the problems of low self esteem is that you have no idea what you want to dress like or how you want to be because there are messages coming from every direction! I think when you have low self esteem not only would you probably be scared but that feeling of you were too tired to dress up you would probably have it all the time. I think to do some of this you would have to have some confidence in the first place. But I do really like the article! But I think a lot of people with low self esteem don’t even have a personal style. Just an theres no point in trying style

  • NotReallyChristian April 27th, 2012 1:59 PM

    These articles are why I wish I was a bit younger, or Rookie has somehow magically existed when I was 13. Sigh.

  • carolpd May 3rd, 2012 7:36 PM

    I have a hard time trying to accept myself, like, having a self esteem is probably the hardest thing I want in my life. When I was a kid the boys in my class used to call me ugly (and other horrible nicknames I dont want to mention) I’ve never had a boyfriend and this makes me feel even worse, so I pretend I don’t care what people think about me but I’m lying to myself.

  • parlamode May 7th, 2012 5:01 AM

    Not caring what other people thought of me, was the most liberating thing that has ever happen to me. I admit that I am not fully their some peoples comments some times get under my skin. But for the most part 99.999% of the time I don’t care even if it has taken me a few years to get to this point it is completely worth it and the advise that I personally would give people is not to expect it to come over night because the best things come with time (that was probably a quote from somewhere).

    : )

  • Unagi May 16th, 2012 3:14 AM

    I’m in my early 20′s and it doesn’t get any easier. I’m still figuring it out. Who I am, who I want to be. I can relate to so much of your article. Not even lacking confidence in my appearance (which is a pretty big thing in my life) but doubting who I am as a person. Wether I’m good enough, smart enough creative enough, how I come off to other people. The whole one dimensional character that is presented to us all the time, the pretty or the smart, is very dangerous. When you’re someone like me (and many other girls I’m sure) and you lack confidence in you appearance AND in who you are as a person, you can get into a real dark place, but we as women a re obviously much more complex than that.
    I don’t really know what I’m trying to say, but good on you for writing this article and being able to relate to so many girls and women out there. OH! And especially the protagonist thing! I read this post after examining all my flaws in the mirror and for a second it made me feel a little better about myself. So thanks :)

  • OliviaCreates May 23rd, 2012 3:29 AM

    this was the most relevant and incredible and perfect and relatable article I have ever read !

  • Fernanda_Abreu May 14th, 2013 9:45 PM

    I know it’s been over a year when this was written, but Tavi I keep this like a diary to me, really! It’s everything I’ve always needed to hear/read. So, thanks a lot! ((:

  • May 15th, 2013 1:18 PM

    NICE! I like that you don’t stress a-lot of those sayings like “Everyone is beautiful”or anything like that. And WHERE is your call from OWN?! ;) I will use this knowledge that you have given to me!!(eats a cookie)(smiles)

  • Giuliana Cattivelli May 26th, 2013 11:23 AM

    Can we just all live in a huuuuuge house and be friends? I just love you all by only reading your comments! Tavi and all the Rookie Team, YOU ARE SERIOUSLY AMAZING AND WAY MORE INSPIRING THAN ANY OTHER THING. If you ever stop this I’ll be seriously depressed.

  • manontheriver June 14th, 2013 1:33 AM

    Tavi, I’m so glad you posted this…a year ago. I can relate to it…You just expressed all that I’ve tried to myself threw the years. Its hard to be surrounded by people who judge my own style. This was fantastic to read I enjoyed every last word!

  • Rhine_and_Blues June 19th, 2013 9:43 PM

    It’s was a really helpful article since I was in the stage of losing my confidence little by little.
    Tavi, you are like my idol. You always look confident even though that you might not all the time.
    I wanted to be a musician when I grow up however, I was not able to because I couldn’t let my parents down. (They want me to be more…like a academic girl.)
    Despite, I want to be a fashion editor in the future. This is the new dream that I found. And I hope I do not let my dream to disappear just like before. That’s why I needed confidence.
    And Thank you so mcuh for posting it and I really appreciate you encouragement. I will look forward to see you in the fashion industry someday soon!:)

  • OhhlalaHannah November 3rd, 2013 6:10 PM

    Fuck yes.
    This post is great, Im 23 and can still relate to all of this.

    My cousin is turning 13 in a month. Im going to give her the Rookie Yearbook for her birthday, lucky bitch.

  • Giraffe November 4th, 2013 7:22 PM

    Dear rookiemag,
    I don’t have to be courageous, and I don’t have to brainwash myself. People only notice my eyes. My face is weird to the parameters. “Healthy brainwashing, right?”