The legacy of Rookie Mag, ten years later


Rookie understood that being a teenager can be lonely and painful, but provided a toolkit of books, movies, and music to fuel our obsessions and make us feel less alone. The Rookie aesthetic exhibited a burning desire for eras past, especially the 60s and 90s. Much of what Rookie created was not necessarily new, but by presenting it to a new generation in original ways, Rookie’s nostalgia served as an ode to the past rather than a scam.

When Olivia Rodrigo borrowed from Hole’s Live through it cover to promote SOUR Prom, Courtney Love the accusation of plagiarism – but for Rookie fans, Olivia Rodrigo and Courtney Love were already part of the same visual world. Much of this is thanks to Olivia’s continued collaboration with rookie photographer Petra Collins, one of the primary creators who still propel Rookie’s early childhood aesthetic into the mainstream. (Collins and Gevinson declined to comment for this story.) Stickers on her face on the cover of SOUR In the cheerleader outfit in the “Brutal” music video, Olivia could have come straight out of a series of Rookie photos.

“The people who created the Rookie ecosystem also create culture,” adds Sicardi. “This is how it lives. Olivia Rodrigo, the world’s number one pop star, owes her aesthetic to Petra Collins and the Rookie ecosystem. Pop culture is Rookie. Everything is still there. It just doesn’t need to be on that particular website anymore. We grew up from this particular space.

Collins is just one of the creators carrying on Rookie’s legacy. Photographer Alice liu is currently working on a film about Asian American childhood in the suburbs, inspired by the years she spent reading and contributing to Rookie as a teenager in the suburbs of Toronto. “I loved the cinematic aesthetic of the photos on Rookie, so I asked my parents for their old point and shoot and started shooting on film,” Liu said. “I grew up in a predominantly Asian American community that wasn’t very art-oriented, so Rookie really kicked off my interest and career in photography.”

For writer Ogechi Egonu, Rookie was what gave him the confidence to pursue writing professionally. In college, when Egonu had a style blog with his twin sister, the two would rush home to read Rookie every day. A few weeks after attending a Rookie event, Egonu received a DM from one of the editors asking if she would like to help write about the experience of black teens. “I was a Rookie fan before I became a writer for Rookie and I was still a fan when I wrote for them,” she says. “My first article was about how lipstick helped me love my lips. Growing up, I was often hassled about them because they are really fat, so I wrote about it along with a how-to guide to lipstick. Egonu continued to write for Rookie until he retired, contributing DIY fashion and makeup guides, self-care and economy tips, and writing for Rookie’s dark hair column.


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