Youth Voices

Rookie Yearbook-In-Review 2

April 16th, 2014     by Zephyr McKenna     Comments

Photo: Josette

Tavi Gevinson’s at it again! Editor-in-chief and founder of Rookie Magazine celebrated the launch of the second print edition of Rookie Yearbook Two by returning to Toronto for the book tour. She was in town for a panel at the Toronto Reference Library and a signing/Halloween dance party at Magic Pony (which I had the pleasure of attending).

The store was packed with people, mainly girls and women but with a smattering of guests of other genders. People seemed to flock from all over to attend the launch party, and for almost the entire evening there was a line of folks waiting to get in stretching along Queen Street West.

Creepy cakes, cookies and gourmet donuts were set out, and the decorations struck the perfect balance between scary and adorable, as did the guests. Everyone in attendance brought their costume A game, some of the highlights being Arthur and DW Read, that kid in the hoodie from ET, and a couple of Dr. Frank N Furters.

Photo: Josette

The atmosphere was lovely. When a well known song popped up on the playlist everyone on the dance floor would shriek with joy and belt out the lyrics. Those who were helping out at the event (recognizable by their adorable fruit costumes) were super sweet, and the rest of the attendees were a blast too.

By the end of the event I had the other partygoers sign my copy of Yearbook Two, both in and out of whatever character they were dressed as. It felt so good to be in a space filled with people as excited about Rookie as I was.

Photo: Josette

The Yearbook itself is phenomenal. Beautiful and imaginative photo shoots, guides for everything from ghost hunting to building your own computer, and interviews with names like Claressa Shields, Emma Watson, and Mindy Kaling are just a hint of the content you’ll find.

There are also stickers.

In my opinion, Rookie Yearbook Two is better than the first. I got Yearbook One for my birthday last year and it was unlike anything I had ever seen. It was love at first sight and I don’t think I ever left the house without it until I had read it cover to cover. In the year between the releases of these books, however, I found myself drifting from Rookie.

The more I changed and learned more about myself, the more I felt that this super rad magazine for girls might not be meant for me (not too surprising since I didn’t actually identify as a girl anymore). As I became more aware of the world around me, too, I was noticing more and more problematic content and ideas within Rookie.

In reading the Rookie Yearbooks I’ve spotted cultural appropriation (I don’t think any of the girls pictured have the right to wear a bindi), casual cissexism and binarism, and ableist language; and there are probably plenty more issues that I didn’t catch or haven’t learned are problematic yet.

When it comes to the photo shoots featured in Rookie Yearbook Two, there are hardly any plus sized models and no models whatsoever with visible disabilities, which is frustrating. Despite how Rookie strives to challenge the norm of what’s considered beautiful, they’re still shoving fat and disabled folks under the bus, the very same way mainstream media does, if they’re not making a conscious effort to include them in their definition of beauty. On a slightly brighter note, however, I am seeing more people of colour modelling, though not anywhere near enough just yet.

Rookie has evolved since it’s creation, though, and I’m seeing a lot more intersectionality and conversations about more serious issues with the second yearbook. Rookiemag does seem to be slowly but surely stepping outside the white teenage girl feeling trapped in the suburbs demographic in both the art and the essays featured. The third article, which I was thrilled to see, is on challenging the gender binary through fashion, or should I say, “screwing the gender binary while looking soooo cuuuute”. April’s theme, Age of Innocence, featured an essay titled Black Girl Lessons, which talks about the disgusting and inevitable racism black girls face that isn’t talked about nearly enough in our society. Rookie’s second print instalment seems to be trying harder to speak to more and more teens, and I think that’s really beautiful.

Tags: fashion, gender, media savvy, youth

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