I sat down in the Journalism library today flipping through the photobook “Girl Culture” by Lauren Greenfield. I was mesmerized by the photos. Greenfield was able to capture the obvious reality of our society — a reality most people choose not to see or don’t pay attention to. Through her photography, she forces people to see the details they often don’t even think to look for. It’s clear that she had a great deal of access to the personal stories of some of the women she photographed, yet her work appeared unbiased. It was true.
I think these photos particularly interested me because they were taken in the nineties — the first decade of my life. It brought me back to my eight year old self, reminding me of the images of society I was exposed to at that age. I saw photos of girls I would have admired back as a child, but looking at that nineties hair and awful fashion I just laugh at myself how. I remember being concerned about the way I looked and always comparing myself to other girls at school. At one time I wanted to look like these girls Greenfield photographed, and today I’m looking at photos of the same type of girls who were clearly doing the same thing — comparing themselves to their friends and trying to look like the popular kids, too.
I would love to do a photography project on something like “Girl Culture.” This is the type of journalistic work I can see myself really enjoying. I’d like to take a broad social issue and critique it by exposing the reality of life. It would be so much fun to take a road trip across the country photographing people and the way they live, showing how diverse America is as a whole, yet how similar people are who live within the same city or state. I love picking out those mannerisms that automatically give away a person’s hometown; for example, in Minnetonka, MN, we’re called cake eaters — you’ve got the trophy wives and the boat dads and the kids who are involved in EVERYTHING and get 4.0s and everyone wears UGGs and Northfaces. The girls from Chicago suburbs are the type who will text on their phone when they’re hanging out with other people, who always have to have the latest fashion, and who can’t help but cause drama.
These critiques are generalizations, but I admit I haven’t paid critical attention to realistic characteristics and patterns of different places — that’s my goal though — to take a summer and document America as I see it.