The work of photographer Lauren Greenfield and her project "girl Culture"

Essay by dreamgrafxUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, December 2002

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Lauren Greenfield's photos of the inside lives of American girls is a vividly descriptive yet disturbingly honest interpretation of modern ideals. 'Girl Culture' focuses on the impact of cultural attitudes towards girl's bodies and the way they are constantly trying to mold to or rebel against ideals. By capturing the confidence of numerous girls and women varying in occupation and background Greenfield is able to get an inside look as to how they are affected by the world around them. Compromising photos and textual interviews, the show provides an unwavering gaze at feminine grooming, makeup, fashion, plastic surgery, dieting, and social circles.

Greenfield discussed her inspiration for 'Girl Culture' as and interest in understanding what it means to be a young woman today or in the past. She focused on the way girls lives have changed so drastically from the beginning of the 1900s till today. A century ago young women spent time in school, helping their mother, and in leisure activities such as reading, writing, drawing, and playing with dolls.

Today girl's lives are driven largely by commercial forces outside of the family and local community. The authority of parents has shifted more to peers and "anxiety has replaced innocence." Although girls and women have made leaps in sexual equality throughout the century and now have many more opportunities to advance and express themselves, they have undergone a change in the way they grow up as well. Greenfield states that she tried to capture the influence of media on the growth of young women and how the images of ideal women in magazines and on TV pushes girls to hurt their own bodies in order to fit the ideal. She wanted to open the world's eyes to a private life which everyone seems to overlook.

Her simple yet powerful images were greeted with somber and sympathetic faces. The realism of the subject matter touches home for any women growing up in today's society and is a shocking view of change in human culture.