The pathological everyday routine of girls. Why are female’s routines pathological? Pathological in their desire to fit in socially, need to be the right size, quest to find the perfect outfit, and obsession with beauty routines. Lauren Greenfield is not solely conceded with one race, one socioeconomic status, or one location: she is interested everyone. Why do women feel the need to put on a show for others both in how they act, what they wear, and even for Greenfield as a photographer? Through her photographs, she displays her understanding of questioning is there a girl culture? If so, what does it decide about a female’s identity. The photobook begins with a photo of young girls and then a photo of teenage girls at fat camp.
The first image allows the viewer to understand how far this girl culture stretches to the young girls, before they are cognizant of their routines or their desire to fit in. Without knowing, they fell victim to this pathological culture. The next photo, shows how cruel the culture is. It shows an image of girls who do not fit the ideal mold. Unfortunately, I did not take any photos of girls who did not fit into the ideal of the girl culture. I was originally mesmerized by what I understood as a bicoastal phenomenon. I was not able to document what this girl culture does to a female who does not fit in. But, the sadness in what Greenfield documents is not just in the girls who do not fit in, it is in the underlying connection between all the girls. Even the girls who put on happy and nonchalant faces, in the interviews Greenfield conducts, their words divulge a longing to be superficially different from what they are: smaller, taller, richer, prettier.
But then, the last three images close the book in a similar way to remind us again how far this culture stretches. Greenfield chose to put a photo go a showgirl not preforming but getting ready at a mirror with the message, “I approve of myself,”. This is to reintroduce what Greenfield is really looking to analyze, the girls who fall outside of the ideal body: in however they perceive it.
Throughout Greenfield’s photos there is a linking idea of powerlessness. Women cannot change the existing pressure to conform to the suburban definition of female beauty. “Girl Culture” displays the cost of fitting into this ideal: Ruby’s Quinceanera dress is $16,000, an entire senior class of girls wear floor length dresses for tradition, and brand names like Gucci, Versace, and Prada make many cameos. From young children ornamented with makeup to a young women on spring break exaggerating oral sex on a male for the entertainment of a male crowd every female relates and finds an image that echoes their personal pursuit of fitting into girl culture and their quest to prove status and their quality of womanhood. Even 19-year-old model Sarah is confused by the girl culture that she is perpetuating. She says, “I don’t think my modeling is good for society. I mean, ultimately, what am I doing? I’m making a bunch of little girls feel bad about their bodies and go anorexic. I don’t think I’m doing the world any good, but if the client is offering you ten thousand dollars to do a shoot for the day, are you going to say no?” (L.C. page).
To take photos inspired by Lauren Greenfield, I plan on observing my girl friends. How has the rise in corporate America led to the exploitation of girls desire to change themselves to fit in. I plan on photographing as well as interviewing subjects in order to fully be able to understand them. In an evening spent with them, while getting ready, hanging out, and going out I plan on taking photographs of the girls. Similar to Nan Goldin, Greenfield shows that photography is not just monotonous but a fine art. She reestablishes the individual artist’s personal vision as well as passion and connection to the subject matter through her work. Greenfield believes, “we are all complicit in promoting the culture we all live with.” Through her photographs of extreme examples of disordered female behavior, you are able to see what she believes is wrong in society today. In Greenfield’s work, she allows her subjects to be her native informants and they are aware they are being photographed. Because of this complicity, you are introduced to a kind of girl who already wants attention: she agreed to be in the photograph. Greenfield is playing on their desires and ultimately comes upon raw footage using her ethnographic eye. I will take many photographs, in order to force the subjects to continue acting as if they aren’t subjects. That way, I will be able to capture spontaneous yet private moments and poses which lend to more information about their identities. I will try to capture social interaction and the visual nuances of teenage life in order to show cultural information. I will also try to be able to tell a story just through one photograph from a different point of view. In terms of technique, I plan on using a slow shutter speed to allow as much ambient light as possible. I also plan on allowing the color to convey emotion.