7.22.2011

Girls Girls Girls


On my way back to the office from a meeting in University City, I stopped by Lauren Greenfield's photography exhibit, "Girl Culture." It is an unflinching and penetrating look at what girls and young women go through as it relates to body image, sexuality, and self-esteem. I got a chance to meet Lauren at a British American Project a few years back, and found her to be insightful and fascinating, so had marked my calendar to see her exhibit before it concluded.

I strongly encourage you to pay the exhibit a visit as well: it runs until July 31, and is located in the Arthur Ross Gallery near 34th and Walnut Streets. (Note: some of the images are of a sexually explicit nature.) If I may share a few quotes from the placards that I jotted down:

"I don't think they're responding to anything about me personally, just to the generic good looks they're used to seeing in magazines." - Sara, 19

"I might look older than I actually am, but underneath it all, I'm only 13. It's kind of scary. It's a hard feeling to not know where you fit in yet." - Hannah, 13

"If I don't dress well, I feel geeky. And if I feel nice, I feel like people like me." - Lily, 6

"I would rather be dumb than be a slut. But I would rather be a slut than be fat or ugly." - May, 18

"One of the hardest parts for me is that I'm known for my eating disorder. It's my identity, so what am I going to be without it? It's what makes me special. So I would just be ordinary without it." - Erin, 24

"Since the women's movement and stuff, things have changed a lot. A lot of things have changed for the better. But now there are these double roles that women are supposed to play in society . . . it's important to do all these things that just contradict each other." - Alison, 17


As a father of a little girl, I shudder at the complexities my daughter will have to navigate as she matures, and I lament the role we men have played in objectifying and demeaning women. Lauren Greenfield, camera in hand and probing commentary never far from her, has artfully captured the maelstrom that is girl culture. We would all do well to give thought to the wellbeing of our girls, and to pray for them to be happy and healthy.

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