A 15-year-old magazine editor is challenging gender stereotypes — and 'teen' stereotypes
Elise By Olsen is a name that may not be too familiar, but it’s one you will want to remember. Elise is a 15-year-old from Oslo, Norway, who found time between school and regular life to launch not only a blogging network, but her own super-beautiful magazine. Recens, which is getting ready to launch its second issue, is a a smart fashion bible that just happens to be founded by a teenager, but don’t expect to see typical teen-branded content inside its glossy pages. Oh no — Elise is out to challenge gender stereotypes and deliver high-brow fashion to young people around the world, without talking down to anyone. Just read Recens‘ mission statement for its latest issue, themed ‘Explore’:
“We are ‘Generation Z.’ We are fed up with all the commercials that are dumped on us, the beauty standards which ruin our self-confidence, and the gender stereotypes that put us in a box. We know how the beauty standards and gender stereotypes more or less affect every teenager. In this issue, our second, we are therefor aiming to recapture the once-creative ideals of both fashion- and art publications. Through rebelling against the unhealthy clench of commercialism and exploring ideas brought forth by our globalized generation, we aim to celebrate the unabashed originality of youth.”
No, this is not your average ‘teen’ magazine, or your average editor. Elise got her start when she was only eight years old, and in the past seven years has grown what started as hobby into a serious business. Her website network, a collaborative network called Archetype, is designed for young Scandinavians interested in art and architecture, but Recens is going global. It’s no wonder why this magazine has caught on — in a “teen magazine” market saturated with pop culture, Recens offers a gender-neutral approach that is designed to get readers thinking about more than summer bathing suits.
“I decided I wanted to advance things because there’s a distinct lack of publications for young people which don’t showcase gender stereotypes and impossible beauty standards,” Elise told The Guardian. “I see fashion as one part of it. It’s mainly a platform for undoing gender stereotypes, for advancing beyond advertising-led content.”
She’s clearly found something that readers want to see. Recens’ readership breakdown is about equal between boys and girls, and readers as young as 12 are falling in love with the print issues. Elise hopes Recens sparks conversations in a way that the Internet, something she, her writers and her readers have all grown up entirely immersed in, cannot. And despite the many voices claiming that print publishing is coming to an end, Recens stands tall as the main focus of Elise’s creative endeavors.
“I want people to sit around and read it and talk, you know,” she explains. “I love the Internet, I couldn’t have achieved any of this without it, but it can be pretty antisocial and unreal. What you see is a perception. It’s not what’s going on.”
If all of this reminds you of wunderkind Tavi Gevinson, then you aren’t alone. In fact, journalist Morwenna Ferrier specifically asked Elise if Tavi was an influence. And although the answer was yes, Elise sees their products as being very different despite any age similarities.
“I didn’t know about Tavi until I was about 14 but yeah, she’s been an influence. I mean, we have created two completely different products but we both come from a similar place. It’s great that young people are trying their hand at creativity.”
Right now, Recens is carried by stores across Norway, with expansion into Europe and the UK coming soon. Although we don’t have it in the US yet, we’re hoping it’s only a matter of time before Elise’s magazine lands over here, too.