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Counting the Ways in Which Times Profile Subject Bebe Zeva Is the Hipster She Aspires to Be

Bebe's Twitter profile picture.

The New York Times describes 18-year-old Bebe Zeva as a "fashion blogger, journalist, and model." She is based in Las Vegas, and has been referred to as a potential "new Tavi" by sites like She may be a "new Tavi" in the sense that she's a teenager and writes a blog and gets attention from mainstream news outlets for her style and manner of existing in the world, but her image isn't so much Tavi as it is Bedford Avenue–dwelling NYU freshman with a taste for hats that come pre-worn-in, and ... attention (Zeva will enroll at the University of Nevada this upcoming fall with plans to transfer to a New York school, like NYU). Zeva is unique in the sense that while most hipsters refuse to admit they're trying very, very hard to be hipsters, she flat-out says so. Around her second semester of freshman year in high school, she tells the Times, "I made the conscious decision to pursue the hipster lifestyle." And so, after "relentlessly" Googling "hipster," she's become pretty decent at being one. Some of the quintessential hipster habits she's forced herself to adopt include:

Proclaiming one's absurd personal-style philosophy of the moment in order to sound like a unique individual, ideally in the company of people who are trying just as hard to come up with such ideas of their own.

“Don’t leave the house unless you look like you’re going to a funeral,” was Ms. Zeva’s style rule for the weekend, which she was spending in the company of Leigh Alexander, a video-gaming journalist. Ms. Zeva calls this style Cyber Goth.

Taking one's persona so far as to legally change one's birth name in the process.

“Bebe” was a nickname she earned when her sister, Rachel, wasn’t able to pronounce her real name, which she does not reveal publicly. “Zeva” derives from a Hebrew word that means “she-wolf,” and she adopted it as a screen name at her mother’s insistence that she not use her real name upon joining MySpace. (While Ms. Zeva does not use her birth name publicly, she said she intends to legally change her name to Bebe Zeva in the near future.)

Saying absurd things in restaurants while wearing hats.

“I like to concentrate on the cuteness of what I’m eating,” Ms. Zeva said. She had switched from coconut and almond vegan ice cream to a skirt steak. In a black minidress, black stockings, a sheer black and navy metallic robe and a floppy black hat, with dozens of long silver and gold chains slung from her neck, she looked like a brunette Stevie Nicks in miniature.

Admitting to depression earlier in life.

In the summer of 2008, she switched to neon V-necks, colored tights, skinny jeans and metallic headbands. Life among the “lifers” soon brought on what Ms. Zeva terms “a severe case of depression,” during which she “wore the same Sarah Lawrence hoodie with a pair of dark-wash Abercrombie & Fitch skinny jeans and Target moccasins” for months.

Using one's profile to garner mainstream and indie filmmaker attention.

She created a profile on, a user-generated fashion photography site, which — along with her blog, Fated to Be Hated, the title a reference to her unpopularity in high school and among some blog commenters who have accused her of betraying the hipster aesthetic to “go mainstream” — brought her to the attention of magazines like Seventeen and Elle, and convinced Mr. Lin and Ms. Boyle that she might be a worthy subject for their documentary.

Claiming not to want to be famous so much as "relevant."

“I think my ambitions involve ‘proving a lot of people wrong’ and being ‘extremely relevant’ and ‘well known,’ ” Ms. Zeva wrote.

Having *thoughts* on MGMT.

On Sunday, the day of the premiere of “Bebe Zeva,” Ms. Zeva was seated at Gimme! Coffee, on Lorimer Street in Brooklyn, where “Kids” by the group MGMT was playing over the speakers, to Ms. Zeva’s displeasure. “I would expect to hear this in the suburbs, but not in Brooklyn,” she said.

When not eating in restaurants that make $18 burgers, trying to ironically-but-not-ironically enjoy things the masses eat.

She was dressed in a Cyber Goth outfit identical to the one she had been wearing Friday night. She caught her robe once on a traffic cone that was blocking off a pothole. At Papaya Dog, on Sixth Avenue in the West Village, she bought chicken wings to take to the premiere.

“Walking into the premiere eating wings is perfect for my personal brand,” she said.

Perhaps the only hipster quality Zeva is missing is the natural ability to look like she hasn't showered in two days. Perhaps that's the difference between a novice — nay, aspiring — 18-year-old hipster and a seasoned 23-year-old one.

Becoming One of the ‘Relevant’ [NYT]


Copyright © 2013, New York Media LLC. All Rights Reserved. The Cut® are registered trademarks of New York Media LLC.

Copyright © 2013, New York Media LLC.
All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2013, New York Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.


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