Charles Baudelaire, the 19th century French poet, wrote that “anybody, providing he knows how to be amusing, has the right to talk about himself.” If he were alive today he would be a blogger. Or so thinks Mabi, a character on the popular Brazilian soap opera TiTiTi. According to her, Baudlaire would be all about multimedia self-advertising, would likely be a model and “emo.” Mabi, played by teenaged actress Clara Tiezzi, should certainly know about such things. According to the show’s official website, she “maintains a polemic blog where she criticizes, with wit and class, everything and everyone in the fashion industry.” She dresses in a manner quite different to most young Brazilian women, combining large lens glasses, bow-ties worn over tee-shirts and bows or feathery fascinators placed atop her short blonde hair.
Does she remind anyone else of another teenage fashion blogger, famous for her distinctive style and witty bon mots? Her name is two letters off and her manner of dress, her age and her blogging about fashion all point directly to Tavi Gevinson. I knew that Tavi’s blog, The Style Rookie, was widely read in North America, but I had no idea she was so famous back home.
I should explain that soap operas are a big deal in Brazil. They air at prime time and entire families are transfixed by their dramas. My 95-year old Nana, who never learned to read or write, watches them daily and discusses them endlessly with her neighbours. Viewed by millions, Brazilian soaps both reflect what’s going on in the culture and influence it, starting trends in fashion and music and even affecting the way people speak, inserting slang into our beloved Portuguese. To a certain extent, they are pop culture.
When I think more about it, it’s not surprising that TiTiTi would create a Tavi-inspired character, as fashion blogging has taken off in the two years since I came to Canada. They seem to be everywhere! I wonder if the character of Mabi, reflecting the growing presence of teenage bloggers (they didn’t cast an adult actor, after all), will further inspire young women to publish their thoughts online. Although superficially being like Tavi, the writers could have done more to capture her personality and intelligence.
This clip, in which Mabi tries to convince her writer friend to start “worrying about his image” and upgrade his look because “marketing is everything,” doesn’t gel with Tavi’s belief that the internet can subvert the style industry’s status quo. Unlike fashion, which often entails rules, style, as she recently told WORN in an interview, is about being original and creative. Let’s hope that TiTiTi viewers take away this lesson as well.
by Deua Medeiros
as told to Max Mosher