Transcending Age – The Empowering Youth

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In media, fashion and music, age stereotypes do not represent the contemporary world anymore

by Julia Oliveira translated by José Osmar

Tavi Gevinson impressed everyone when she created a super serious and original fashion blog at the age of 12. Big names of the fashion world read Style Rookie: from Anna Wintour to Karl Lagerfeld. Today, at the age of 19, she is the big boss of the website Rookie, aimed for teenage girls. The substance of the texts can surprise those who think poorly of teenagers. Relationships, makeup, and clothing figure side by side with topics not so traditional to this kind of publication, such as politics, feminism and philosophy.

Photos of Petra Collins, 22 year old photographer that clicks the feminine world since her 19s, elevating DIY and pink aesthetics to a cool status. It’s a young person looking to another young person with pride and truth.
Photos of Petra Collins, 22 year old photographer that clicks the feminine world since her 19s, elevating DIY and pink aesthetics to a cool status. It’s a young person looking to another young person with pride and truth.

Tavi’s work has proven youth creativity deserves more credibility and respect. Seriousness and expertise are not adult’s things. Energy and spontaneity are not kid’s things. Current scenario corroborates with that: at the age of 17, Malala won a Nobel Prize for her activism in women’s education; octogenarian Helen Van Winkle, Baddiewinkle on the social media, is an Instagram success with her trendy looks. And in case you are wondering, they are not exceptions. Get used to it: age stereotypes don’t represent the contemporary world anymore.

Baddiewinkle on Instagram
Baddiewinkle on Instagram

Take a look on May’s 2015 Dazed & Confused cover. Seventeen year old actress Maisie Williams is there, giving her two cents about presidential elections in the UK.

“Whether I want it or not, I became an influence to people”, she says.

And that is exactly the way things are working right now. The “inexperienced rookies” are the heralds of new consciousnesses. A slap in the face of age-related prejudice.

maisie williams

Mainstream star Will Smith’s children, for example, are making more buzz than their father. The word buzz used here in a good way, of course. Their Twitter and Instagram accounts are filled with imaginative insights and questions to social conventions.

Jaden Smith, 16, teases gender stereotypes by posting photos of him wearing dresses and skirts, common on his daily routine. One of these is subtitled “Went To TopShop To Buy Some Girl Clothes, I Mean “Clothes””.

His sister Willow, 14, is not behind him. Openly declared feminist, she was once photographed wearing a shirt with the sayings: “Ain’t no wifey”, besides collaborating to the #freethenipple campaign: “When did the women’s body start being something to hide?”, teases the girl in a tweet.

free the nipple

By the way, Willow was chosen to, alongside Cher, be the new face of Marc Jacobs campaign.

“Beauty, style and talent don’t know age. These people lend their creativity, unique vision and voice to inspire our team so we can create and express ourselves through fashion.” — Marc Jacobs

There is a change on values here. More than beauty, Teens can now be personality icons, even for older people.

Willow and Cher: attitude has nothing to do with age.
Willow and Cher: attitude has nothing to do with age.

Another example of that is Natalie Westling. In the last year, at 17 years old, she was on the spotlight for walking down New York Fashion Week’s runways with a vibrant, almost neon, red hair. The statement was found unpleasant by several stylists – some of them even dismissed her. Nothing that troubled her: the model says she’s more comfortable on a skate than on the runway. Openly declared homosexual, this confident and easygoing, 100% no bullshit attitude is unexpected coming from a public figure this young. Her originality transcends and elevates her work as a model to another level. In a video interview for i-D magazine she effectively transmits this daring essence.

Of course music, one of society’s most genuine manifestations, also reflects this scenario of death of age. There are plenty examples of people who want to influence their generation, using the internet as a long range weapon to make themselves heard.

Pearls Negras members Jennifer, Mariana and Alice are still not of legal age, yet they are the pride of Vidigal, the shanty town they live in Rio. Their raps, composed by themselves, have such addicting beats they got the attention of foreign producers and C&A, who used the track “Pensando em Voce” in one of their ads. The track “Guerreira” is an empowering anthem: “rapping my rap, sending fools on the run, only with a fight mindset this war is won”. Overflowing self confidence and style.

Still talking about Brazilian musicians, MC Brinquedo, famous for his little age and for the heavily erotic content of his music, thinks it’s important to set a good example to the young fans. Outside his funk persona, Brinquedo encourages kids to study, and documents his school routine on Instagram. In Jamaica, Wayne J, 12, does this kind of encouragement in the lyrics of his songs, which themes go from education to Scooby Doo and Ben 10.

Mc Brinquedo on Facebook: “Because the real playas study and think about future.”
Mc Brinquedo on Facebook: “Because the real playas study and think about future.”
Having the internet as natural habitat is the big advantage of this generation. This relatively democratic and horizontal ambient is ideal for anyone to make themselves heard, including teens, who usually were underestimated and not taken seriously before. 

It is truly an open channel, waiting for a message – any message, from anywhere. And to think this message is always connected to self promotion is a mistake. Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg uses her Tumblr account to bring visibility to black activism. A video she made for a school project regarding cultural appropriation became famous because of how elucidative it was.

It is a fact, though, that from Tavi to Mc Brinquedo, teens make the difference sending their message through the internet. Of course they risk being forgotten in the middle of so much information, but just as bad news travel fast, what is good does not take too long to pop up on our timelines. Youth knows it’s better to celebrate the expansion of the capacity to reach people than to grumble about the superficiality of the modern times. Don’t underestimate the young ones.

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