Response to Girl Culture by Lauren Greenfield

by Akari Stimler and Zoë Gleitsman

As teenage girls, this book immediately caught our attention. Even though the photographs were taken when we weren’t born yet, the subject matter and many of the topics discussed are very identifiable and relatable. Greenfield’s photographs are very candid and raw, and they show sides of girls’ lives that aren’t typically photographed or shown to the public. Of course Greenfield was not the only female photographer to do so, but she was someone who created work that spoke to young adult women. Girl Culture not only contains photographs, but also interviews from certain subjects, thus providing a more three dimensional perspective for each image. Another aspect of the work in this book that is amazing is that the subjects Greenfield chose were extremely diverse, showing what growing up as a girl is like with many different backgrounds.

Social media has become a tool for many young photographers to show their work. As teenagers, we are constantly surrounded by social media. Artists like Petra Collins and Olivia Bee are attempting to explore the same subjects that Greenfield explored. Petra Collins is a young, female photographer that explores issues concerning girls and often promotes feminism in her photography. As we were paging through Girl Culture, we started to compare the work of Petra Collins to the photographs shown in the book. Both photographers seem to express their frustrations with societal standards for women through their subjects. Greenfield has a wider range of subjects than Collins, and she has more access to different locations and events. Both photographers chose to approach the subject of young girls in the U.S., but they did so in very different ways. The photographs in Girl Culture are obviously candid; the focus of the subjects were on other tasks while they were being photographed. The work of Petra Collins is very styled and precise; she takes the time to make sure her photographs look exactly how she wants them to. Both artists have succeeded in bringing to light issues concerning young girls, but have done so in very different ways. We hope to be a part of a generation of photographers that will continue to shed light on girls and we also hope that this subject matter will expand to girls across the world.

Images from Girl Culture by Lauren Greenfield

13 In Edina, Girl Culture

(l-r) Annie, Hannah and Allie, all 13, get ready for the first big party of the seventh grade in Edina, an affluent suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The most popular girls at school, these friends spent three hours helping each other get ready for the party. Only a few miles away from the biggest mall in America, 7th graders here are not worried about gangs or school violence but with being popular and fitting in.

THIN, Girl Culture

Erin, 24, from Lincoln, California, is “blind-weighed” at daily weights at an eating disorder clinic. She mounts the scale backward so as not to see her weight gain from treatment. (From Girl Culture)

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Photographs from Petra Collins:

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Akari Stimler and Zoë Gleitsman are Spring 2016 interns at the ICP Library as well as ICP Teen Academy students.

About Deirdre Donohue

Stephanie Shuman Librarian International Center of Photography Follow on Twitter @icplibrary
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