Tavie Gervinson, the 15-year-old editor-in-chief of RookieMag.com, a website for teen girls, is 'still figuring it out.'
The high school sophmore, who four years ago started a fashion blog that launched her into the spotlight and in the front row at Fashion Week runway shows, spoke about the dearth of strong female characters on TV and in movies at the TEDxTeen conference last month.
The self-professed "pop culture nerd" told the audience she thinks what constitutes a strong characters is often misinterpreted, and instead were presented with "two dimensional super women" who exhibit a single quality emphasized heavily in the narrative, but not much else.
Gevinson calls these figures, including "Catwoman type[s]" and those whose sexuality is made into their calling cards, "cardboard characters," lacking the depth and complexity of real women.
"The problem with this is that people expect women to be that easy to understand and women get mad at themselves for not being that simple," she told the audience. "When in actuality, women are complicated. Women are multifaceted, not because women are crazy, but because people are crazy and women happen to be people."
The key to creating a strong female characters is allowing them giving them flaws, she said, and listed the female protagonists in "Mad Men" and "Bridesmaids" as prime examples of complicated and more realistic characters.
Gervinson also expressed concern about the representation of teen girls in popular culture. She said she longs for 1990's when teenage characters such as "Freaks and Geeks'" Lindsay Weir and "My So-Called Life's" Angela Chase, were (briefly) on television. Those characters accurately portrayed what it means to be a teenage girl who is still trying to figure things out, she said.
Though Gervinson arguably has her life more together than most 20-somethings these days, she still professes to be figuring things out herself, which she cited as the reason she started RookieMag.com. She's quick to say she doesn't have all the answers, and instead she's created a space that just allows girls to try to work through the complications of life together.