A girl and her room.
April 11, 2011 7:48 AM   Subscribe

A girl and her room. Photographer Rania Matar has taken dozens of pictures of teenage girls in their bedrooms, in both the US and the Middle East. (Slightly NSFW) (via)
posted by shakespeherian (103 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nope. Not going to click the link.
posted by jsavimbi at 7:52 AM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, girls who live in refugee camps have different rooms than girls who live in New England.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:53 AM on April 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


The kids are alright.
posted by chavenet at 7:53 AM on April 11, 2011


It's only slightly nsfw because some of the girls have plastered their walls with semi-naked women. Which I find a little...disturbing personally: there's probably a feminist theory involving the male gaze in there somewhere.

(Unless it gets more nsfw later on: I only looked at the first few.)
posted by pharm at 7:58 AM on April 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


thanks -- strangely touching.

Except for the picture where the girl had scrawled the phrase "I will never deep-throat a penis of cheese" on the wall, because now I'm going to spend the rest of the day trying to figure out that koan.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:59 AM on April 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


"I will never deep throat a penis of cheese" - Kate

A motto to live by.
posted by kkrvgz at 7:59 AM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Makes me appreciate my 17 yr old daughter's room that much more as normal.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:03 AM on April 11, 2011


could have used more diversity, all those (mostly) thin white waifs. Which is fine.... but after 10 or 12 images kinda starts to blur.
posted by edgeways at 8:04 AM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


There was an AskMe recently from somebody looking for sites with pictures of interiors. Real world rooms, not store mock-ups nor designer expensives. Tried to find the question/poster to give them a headsup about this post, but mefifu is out of commission. Who was that...?

(now watch it be shakespeherian)
posted by likeso at 8:05 AM on April 11, 2011


All those poor girls. I only clicked through the beginning of the Mass. photos but I was struck by how cowed and submissive they all looked in their photos. Faces or eyes cast down. Legs awkwardly half-open while simultaneously half-closed. I'm left with no real sense of teenage girls, figuring out themselves or place in the the world--I'm left with the idea that this photographer is a creep.

Although they're being asked to show off their personal space, make their private-public self actually public--something which should have them open and proud--they've all been posed like nonentities. Not one of them shows any ownership or strength or personality in how she is addressing the camera.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:07 AM on April 11, 2011 [12 favorites]


Portfolio 2's photo gallery seems determined to keep showing me the same picture, unless I'm doing it wrong.

pharm I noticed that too. As how could one not? Of course, it didn't take me long to notice that men's magazines are full of pictures of half-naked women, as are women's magazines.

Call me conservative, but some of them seem to be like the world of Peanuts, where there is little sign of adult supervision, before, during, or probably after the picture was taken.
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:08 AM on April 11, 2011


Except for the picture where the girl had scrawled the phrase "I will never deep-throat a penis of cheese" on the wall, because now I'm going to spend the rest of the day trying to figure out that koan.

That's what happens when you have your friends over and hand them your markers and say, "My parents told me that they don't care if I write on the walls."

I love this--I can remember how, when I was a teenage girl, I thought my room an extension of my identity, which I constructed just as carefully as I did my perfectly punk rock clothes. Interesting to see how common this seems to be, at least among Americans (though Dima from Lebanon seems to be doing the same thing).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:10 AM on April 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Wow, girls who live in refugee camps have different rooms than girls who live in New England.

Actually, I found them remarkably similar.
posted by dobbs at 8:11 AM on April 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


The artist's statement:
As a mother of a teenage daughter I watch with awe her passage from girlhood into adulthood, with all the complications that it entails. As I observed her and her girlfriends, I became fascinated with the transformation taking place, with the adult personality shaping up, with an insecurity and a self-consciousness that are now replacing the carefree world the girls had lived in so far. I started photographing them in group situations, and quickly realized they were so aware of each other's presence, and that being in a group affected very much how they portrayed themselves to the world. I also realized that under an air of self-assurance, those young women were often very fragile, self-conscious and confused. While their bodies were developing fast into women's bodies, they were still on many levels young girls who suddenly thought they had to behave like adults.

From there, emerged the idea of photographing each girl alone. I originally let the girls choose the place of their choice and was slowly welcomed into their bedrooms, an area that is theirs, that they can fully control, decorate, trash and be themselves in – within an outside world that is often intimidating. I spent time with each girl, so she was comfortable with me and was able to let down her guards, free of any preconception of what she would like to portray consciously. I was fascinated to discover a person on the cusp on becoming an adult, but desperately holding on to the child she just barely left behind. A person on the edge between two worlds, trying to come to terms with this transitional time in her life and adjust to the person she is becoming. Posters of rock stars, political leaders or top models were often displayed above a bed still covered with stuffed animals; mirrors were always an important part of the room, a reflection of the girls' image to the outside world.

Being with those young women in the privacy of their world gave me a unique peek into their private lives and their real selves. I thank them all for their trust and their willingness to share their private space and their private self with me.

This work is in progress. I am in the process of expanding it to include girls from different backgrounds in the US and abroad.

– R. M.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:12 AM on April 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hey, I recognize that manga on Yamira's shelves!

/geek
posted by nicebookrack at 8:16 AM on April 11, 2011


I like the way she cropped the images - clearly the girls thought they only needed to clean and organize a section of the room, but she zoomed back a little so that the messiness shows at the edges. I think the images would lose a lot without that.

Also, yes, it seems incredibly weird to me that so many girls (presumably at least some of whom are straight) have porn-ey images plastered around their rooms. I can understand fashion shoots, but naked women on the beach seem like a very strange choice.
posted by you're a kitty! at 8:18 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay, so it's not the photographer who's a creep, then. It's just how internalized the notion is that young women need to present themselves as depersonalized and submissive (that I'm seeing in the body language of these girls) that is creepy.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:19 AM on April 11, 2011


That's what happens when you have your friends over and hand them your markers and say, "My parents told me that they don't care if I write on the walls."

No, I know how it got there, I'm more asking "....what was the backstory for THAT?"

Kind of like the confusion of tangents that lead a friend of mine in college to say something about God being a dead cow in her writing class. Made sense in context, but wackadaoo without.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:21 AM on April 11, 2011


All those poor girls. I only clicked through the beginning of the Mass. photos but I was struck by how cowed and submissive they all looked in their photos. Faces or eyes cast down. Legs awkwardly half-open while simultaneously half-closed. I'm left with no real sense of teenage girls, figuring out themselves or place in the the world--I'm left with the idea that this photographer is a creep.

This project is edited (meaning, of the probably 100s the photographer took of each girl, two to three were chosen). So, I read nothing into the gaze, pose, etc of these girls except what the photographer may have tried to project onto them. Give me the RAW files of the entire shoot for every girl and I could probably edit a project that showed each girl differently.
posted by spicynuts at 8:22 AM on April 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Very Joycean, your friend's dead cow:

Stephen jerked his thumb towards the window, saying:
— That is God.
Hooray! Ay! Whrrwhee!
— What? Mr Deasy asked.
— A shout in the street, Stephen answered, shrugging his shoulders.
posted by chavenet at 8:23 AM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


crush-onastick: Yeah, as I flicked through the whole thing seemed more and more creepy: The passive poses of the girls seemed to almost insist on turning the viewer into a voyeur.

Perhaps that's just ne projecting my early-middle-aged male sensibilities about looking at pictures of 17 year old girls onto the pictures & I've just forgetten what it was like to be 17 & unsure of yourself? (Obv. I have no experience of being 17 & female.)

spicynuts: Given that the photographer chose these shots, why did she choose the ones with such passive, submissive poses? Is that really what her subjects were like?
posted by pharm at 8:23 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really dug these, especially because I was really expecting them to be creepy. Very cool. Thanks.
posted by nevercalm at 8:29 AM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


pharm: “spicynuts: Given that the photographer chose these shots, why did she choose the ones with such passive, submissive poses? Is that really what her subjects were like?”

How did you get "submissive" or "passive" out of this? Any more than would be perfectly normal, I mean? Maybe I'm projecting my experience here, but I can't remember the last time I was anything but "submissive" or "passive" in my own room. What, are they supposed to be confrontational? Active? Showing force? I don't think that's what human beings do when they're alone in their own bedrooms.

The only thing I can imagine is the fact that most of them aren't smiling. But I don't think that makes them particularly "submissive." Relaxing, maybe?

Anyway, I really liked these. Thanks.
posted by koeselitz at 8:30 AM on April 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


That is not my quote, koeselitz. Note the italics.
posted by spicynuts at 8:31 AM on April 11, 2011


whoops...SORRY...totally misread what you were doing there.

Pharm: that's exactly what I'm saying. I would not make assumptions about the personality/character of these girls based on the photographer's choices. You may want to, but I would not. Show me ALL of the shots, then maybe I will.
posted by spicynuts at 8:33 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, yes. I knew I was quoting pharm there; he was just talking to you. Should have made that more clear by leaving off your name, spicynuts.
posted by koeselitz at 8:34 AM on April 11, 2011


I guess my framing was maybe shitty, but I find it kinda weird that the confluence of 'teenager,' 'bedroom,' 'photography,' and 'slightly NSFW' made a bunch of people think this would be voyeur porn or something.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:36 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I got submissive and passive out of the fact that the photos I looked at (I did not look at all the photos) showed girls with faces or eyes cast down and sitting with their legs awkwardly half-open while simultaneously half-closed. That reads not as self-conscious or shy to me but as submissive and passive, adopting a cultural language of nonthreatening, nonentityness which is thrust at young women, rather than displaying a natural sense of reticence at being exposed.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:38 AM on April 11, 2011


Perhaps that's just ne projecting my early-middle-aged male sensibilities about looking at pictures of 17 year old girls onto the pictures & I've just forgetten what it was like to be 17 & unsure of yourself? (Obv. I have no experience of being 17 & female.)

Being a teenage girl is the worst. I turned thirteen and refused to wear shorts or skirts for three years because I became convinced that my knees were fat. Look at photos of teenage girls and you'll see lots of tight-lipped smiles, lots of posing, too. This is where we get the infamous myspace/facebook duckface--because teenage girls are told, or become convinced, that something is attractive, but they don't realize that a lot of what's genuinely attractive doesn't come from artifice until too late, or maybe they do, but it doesn't matter, because they're ill-at-home in their bodies, and their bodies give them power but also kind of terrify them because suddenly it's all that's being looked at. Gawky. Zitty. But also suddenly sexy. How do you learn what it means to be a woman without making yourself look foolish, even when you feel foolish? It's difficult. It really is.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:40 AM on April 11, 2011 [29 favorites]


Some of these rooms look very much like mine did, when I was a teenager. It's all very much "This space is MINE!" My teenage sons, however, don't seem to do this owning of their rooms. Although I push them to stretch out, to take ownership, to put up posters or hang things from the walls, they choose instead to throw all their clothes on the floor and decorate with glasses and bowls (with remnants of whatever they ate) from the kitchen instead. I often wonder if it's really a gender thing, or if my boys just...don't care to decorate?
posted by routergirl at 8:43 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


My teenage sons, however, don't seem to do this owning of their rooms. Although I push them to stretch out, to take ownership, to put up posters or hang things from the walls, they choose instead to throw all their clothes on the floor and decorate with glasses and bowls (with remnants of whatever they ate) from the kitchen instead. I often wonder if it's really a gender thing, or if my boys just...don't care to decorate?

That's really interesting. I was constantly changing my room as a teenager, and had so many posters up that when we spackled over all the pushpin holes years later to sell the house I was amazed at how badly I had swisscheesed the walls.
posted by nevercalm at 8:50 AM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, putting up a ton of artfully arranged photos and posters in my teenage bedroom wasn't totally unique? Drat!
posted by rachaelfaith at 8:52 AM on April 11, 2011


Attractive skinny girls, pregnant girls, and girls in a war-torn region. It seems more like some 1st year photography student's idea of a "provocative" photo assignment than anything else.
posted by CaseyB at 8:52 AM on April 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Based solely on the photo collections that get posted on metafilter, men and boys are apparently not very interesting to look at.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:52 AM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


All I can do when I look at these is be jealous.

My parents never let me decorate my room when I was a kid. They were always hyper-focused on keeping up the resale value of the house (that they've lived in for 24 years with no plans to move soon), which meant that there had to be one "boy" room (the little brother's room was baseball themed) and one "girl" room. The "girl" room was mine. The room was faux-finish painted with pepto-pink, teal, and lilac, colors I hate, but that my mom swears I picked out when I was four. (The room didn't get painted until I was twelve, I should add.) I wasn't allowed to hang up posters for fear of damaging the paint on the walls, and the only wall decor I had was a framed print of Monet's water lillies (lovely, but I'm more of a Miro kind of girl) because it went with the color scheme. I had a pink bed ruffle and pink curtains and a pink/teal/lilac bedspread/pillow sham (whatever that is, amirite?). It sounds so whiny and superficial to say this, but living in that room was total, utter hell.

I look at all these pictures of girls with posters all over their walls--heck, with writing scrawled all over their walls--and I wonder what my room would have looked like if I had had any say at all in creating it.
posted by phunniemee at 8:53 AM on April 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


Also, that is the most upscale refugee camp I have ever seen. It hardly looks any different on the inside than these high-end suburban Boston homes.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:55 AM on April 11, 2011


My brother never did anything with his room, either, now that I think of it. When I was hanging posters of Rick Springfield and rearranging my unicorn art and figurines, he was throwing loose change and dirty clothes all over his carpet and keeping his walls bare. My stepsister, on the other hand, got my mom to paint her walls blue with a rainbow wallpaper border. It was quite hideous. But she loved it, so eh, who was I to judge?

This is a great post, and really something I find fascinating. I would love to see the teenage boys rooms. Which sounds terrible, if taken out of context.
posted by routergirl at 8:56 AM on April 11, 2011


Oh. I wasn't rearranging unicorns as a *teenager*, actually. Those years were more Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, with black lights and tye dyed scarves draping over every available surface.

Phunniemee - I had friends with rooms like this. They loathed it, too. I had pink flowered wallpaper when I was a kid (my mom was a regular at Sherwin Williams for a while there) but I think after a while my mom just...gave up.
posted by routergirl at 9:01 AM on April 11, 2011


I liked these. I don't know how to separate out the photographer's editing from anything generalizable about young women, but I think the images stand on their own fairly well.
posted by Forktine at 9:02 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


koeslitz: crush-onastick explains it as well as I could.

spicynuts: I know. The question that then follows is: Why choose those images then?

(Actually, the pictures of the girls in the refugee camp / the Lebanon etc seem more neutrally posed to me, at least the ones I looked at.)
posted by pharm at 9:04 AM on April 11, 2011


I'm trying to think of how he could have possibly made those photos look more staged.

"Sit there. Try to look sad, depressed, alone. Angsty. No, look to the left. Clutch a teddy bear. There!"

posted by Malice at 9:11 AM on April 11, 2011


My teenage sons, however, don't seem to do this owning of their rooms.

My son never put up a single poster or picture on his walls in the entire 20 years of living with us. If you asked him, he probably wouldn't know what color the walls were.
posted by octothorpe at 9:12 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought that these were supposed to be rooms and their occupants? This one's just a room... GAH! godamned camouflage...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 9:12 AM on April 11, 2011


All those poor girls. I only clicked through the beginning of the Mass. photos but I was struck by how cowed and submissive they all looked in their photos. Faces or eyes cast down. Legs awkwardly half-open while simultaneously half-closed. I'm left with no real sense of teenage girls, figuring out themselves or place in the the world--I'm left with the idea that this photographer is a creep.

She's definitely playing up the "vulnerable" aspect. I've known plenty of girls of that age, many of them from Brookline/Newton MA (where most of the first subjects were shot). She's either choosing her subjects very carefully, coaching the poses strongly, or filling up a memory card until she gets to look she wants-- teen girls from Brookline/Newton tend to be assertive, brash kids with well-cultivated personalities that come from attentive schooling and lack of want.

I can give her the benefit of the doubt and suggest that she's photographing a sub-demo that I'm not familiar with (though the furnishings didn't suggest it). But I don't think I need to-- I think she's aiming to showcase the inherent vulnerability and similarity of teen girls everywhere. It might not reflect real-world actualities, but it's art and not photojournalism so who cares? Not up my alley, but I'm going to have a teenage daughter eventually so it was interesting to me.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:15 AM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


These tattoos are a gang thing, right? Each doggy pawprint is to represent a harmless dog she's killed and turned into a pillow...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 9:16 AM on April 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Lots of these photos are not of teenage girls, they are young women in their early 20s and probably live in college dorms or have their own apartments and jobs. This is a different context than stating that these are "teenage girls in their rooms."

Also, so what if a young woman has some semi nude images of women hanging up in her room? It is pretty common these days for young women in the US to openly identify themselves sexually as bi or gay.
posted by pluckysparrow at 9:20 AM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't have the chops to critique or interpret the photos but I will say that I find the lack of Flash very refreshing.
posted by Sauce Trough at 9:21 AM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm trying to think of how he could have possibly made those photos look more staged.

1. It's a she, and
2. How did this idea become so ubiquitous—that a naturalistic, "raw" sensibility is the end-all and be-all of artistic expression? Of course they're staged! Of course the models have been posed! She is an artist, not a journalist. Why on earth shouldn't they be?
posted by enn at 9:26 AM on April 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Do teenage boys really not decorate their rooms? I find this hard to believe, possibly because I viewed my obsessive plastering of my walls with comics and rock band posters as a teen thing rather than a teen girl thing. Now I'm remembering that Christmas in high school when I bought a male friend a poster of Jimi Hendrix and wondering if that was a bad idea. He seemed grateful!
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 9:45 AM on April 11, 2011



spicynuts: I know. The question that then follows is: Why choose those images then?


The answer to that would be a doctoral dissertation in sociology, gender studies, art history and culture studies and I don't have the time for a doctoral dissertation of that magnitude. Let's start with:

Look at any magazine that features photography and also caters to "non-mainstream" (ba ha ha) music/literature/culture/fashion.
posted by spicynuts at 9:47 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I may be getting a bit too sidetracked by other projects and pictures within the same website, but I really enjoyed some of the photographer's pictures from Aftermath of War; mainly, the way life seems to continue in a bold yet normal way, even if surrounded by surroundings that have fallen apart.

I also laughed at the picture of a child in the Family Moment series --it doesn't matter what part of the world this child is from, but I would bet people and kids can relate to it on some level.

Thanks for sharing --I enjoyed seeing the work of this photographer.
posted by Wolfster at 9:47 AM on April 11, 2011


My younger brother made his room his own by stinking it up with Teenage Boy Stank that you could smell it through the doors.
posted by Jilder at 9:47 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a mother of a teenage daughter I watch with awe her passage from girlhood into adulthood, with all the complications that it entails. As I observed her and her girlfriends, I became fascinated with the transformation taking place, with the adult personality shaping up, with an insecurity and a self-consciousness that are now replacing the carefree world the girls had lived in so far. I started photographing them in group situations, and quickly realized they were so aware of each other's presence, and that being in a group affected very much how they portrayed themselves to the world. I also realized that under an air of self-assurance, those young women were often very fragile, self-conscious and confused. While their bodies were developing fast into women's bodies, they were still on many levels young girls who suddenly thought they had to behave like adults.From there, emerged the idea of photographing each girl alone. I originally let the girls choose the place of their choice and was slowly welcomed into their bedrooms, an area that is theirs, that they can fully control, decorate, trash and be themselves in – within an outside world that is often intimidating. I spent time with each girl, so she was comfortable with me and was able to let down her guards, free of any preconception of what she would like to portray consciously. I was fascinated to discover a person on the cusp on becoming an adult, but desperately holding on to the child she just barely left behind. A person on the edge between two worlds, trying to come to terms with this transitional time in her life and adjust to the person she is becoming. Posters of rock stars, political leaders or top models were often displayed above a bed still covered with stuffed animals; mirrors were always an important part of the room, a reflection of the girls' image to the outside world.

Being with those young women in the privacy of their world gave me a unique peek into their private lives and their real selves. I thank them all for their trust and their willingness to share their private space and their private self with me.

This work is in progress. I am in the process of expanding it to include girls from different backgrounds in the US and abroad.


Not much of any of this makes it into the photographs.

Which reinforces my belief that the litmus test for any photograph is the removal of the title, artist statement or other supporting waffle that mediocre photographers fall back on time and again.
posted by fire&wings at 9:50 AM on April 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Do teenage boys really not decorate their rooms?

My brother and I did not, really. Our sisters did. The eldest sister had plastered the walls with images taken from fashion mags, mostly of women. Some were male, though.

I asked her once about it, and the answer was something along the lines of she like the clothes, or the pose, or whatever. It wasn't very sexualized.

As an aside, my wife has decorated the whole house with pictures and posters and ticky tacky, but my office walls are still largely barren.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:56 AM on April 11, 2011


How did this idea become so ubiquitous—that a naturalistic, "raw" sensibility is the end-all and be-all of artistic expression? Of course they're staged! Of course the models have been posed! She is an artist, not a journalist. Why on earth shouldn't they be?

Well I think the work is fairly explicit in trying to present what the photographer felt was "the natural habitat" of young women/teenage girls. or at least to come across as doing that.

Every photograph exists on some continuum of strict documentation, and outright manipulation, the overwhelming majority fit somewhere between. I think these where suppose to come across as more documentation, but feel more manipulated.
posted by edgeways at 9:56 AM on April 11, 2011


enn: I don't take issue with the fact that the photos are staged. as you point out, of course they are staged. The photographer had a project in mind and went out and set up the shots that fit the project. I find, however, that the poses which were staged (or the final pictures which were chosen) reflect an unpleasant positioning of these young women as something submissive, pliant and powerless. I did not read the artist statement first: just the title "Teenage girls and their rooms". From the title, I was expecting, or possibly only hoping, to see a spark of life in the girls.

I wanted to see them throwing open a private space, wherein they explore the pressures of being a young woman and try on personalities, and I wanted to see strength and agency in them as they display the private-public selves, publicly.

Instead--in the first few photos I looked at--I saw them posed as passively and as blankly as possible. It felt creepy to me, so I stopped looking.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:02 AM on April 11, 2011


I think it's worth looking at more, crush. Particularly the portraits. These aren't happy images, but I see plenty of ownership of space and self.

What if the personalities women try on are not necessarily ones with strength and agency? What if the reaction of many young women to the pressures society puts on them is to withdraw? I was never more pensive than when I was alone. The happy face I put on around others was my public self--and really, my public self only.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:08 AM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just want to chime in as a guy who absolutely decorated his room as a teenager. My brother did, too. I mostly had full-size posters, while my brother had a lot of two-page band photos from Guitar magazine.
posted by digitaldraco at 10:12 AM on April 11, 2011


Interesting project but I'm not really sure what it's telling me. I'm not getting the impression of a submissive/passive attitude (in fact, some of the photos do display self-assurance and even defiance) - as much as "bored" or "distant".

Maybe it's intended to make the voyeuristic aspect less strong - we're already peeking into their bedrooms, with all their favourite stuff and posters and clothes and makeup and toys (it really strikes me that so many of these girls who are closer to 20 if not in early 20s keep teddy bears and childhood stuff around), maybe that detached impersonal look on their faces is supposed to be a sort of privacy screen? I don't know. Some of them work out a little too vice-magaziney for me. (But then a lot of portraits of bored teens posing end up looking like that).

Not sure what the point is, but it all looks little too static. The girls are just posing and they all seem like variations of the same pose. It gets kind of boring after browsing a few of them. I guess for me it would have been nice to see them portrayed when they are actually doing something - writing, skyping, listening to music, reading, calling their friends on the mobile, watching tv, whatever. Maybe even looking like they're having fun and like their rooms, instead of standing there looking bored or like they're about to set it on fire in an act of rebellion against themselves.

It's not the girls (I have been a teenage girl), it's obviously the photographer's choice, I guess I'm just not "feeling" it. I like her statement but somehow I don't think the photos did it justice.
posted by bitteschoen at 10:16 AM on April 11, 2011


Just want to mention that the NSFW label isn't just because of the posters on the walls. The "Innocent Moments" album has naked toddlers in it.
posted by zarq at 10:23 AM on April 11, 2011


I also got the feeling that the photos were carefully chosen to show vulnerability, if not actually staged by the photographer. Not much brash teenage rebelliousness visible here amongst the fluffy stuffed animals. It would be interesting to hear what the girls think about their pictures.

I also wonder if projects like this serve to reinforce societal norms (as the photographer/writer/artist sees them). When I was a teenager, the only way you could see other kids' bedrooms was to get invited into them - cameras weren't ubiquitous, film was expensive, and it would be pretty weird to take pictures of your bedroom. So I never realized how strange my bedroom was, for a teenage girl. (In fact, this website is pretty much the first time I've seen a whole bunch of teen girls' rooms.) I had no posters, no stuffed animals, no makeup, no mirror, no purses/jewelry/shoes scattered around, not nearly as many clothes in general and definitely not lying all over the floor. (I wasn't all that tidy, I just didn't have as much stuff to strew around - not poor, just didn't want it.)

If I had seen pictures like this when I was that age, I probably would have felt like a total freak. It's a lot easier to be different when you aren't constantly reminded that you're different. Given how fragile the adolescent psyche is, I wonder if photo galleries like this just intensify the pressure to conform. Even your own bedroom isn't a safe refuge for your own individual sort of weirdness - now you can see how it's "supposed" to look.

Then again, stuff like this is probably aimed at adults and maybe teenagers just roll their eyes and ignore the grownups as usual.
posted by Quietgal at 10:24 AM on April 11, 2011


having two daughters, I can understand why many shots taken in a teenage girl's room might look a bit on the anemic, languid side. I however miss the animated, vivacious or even aggressive moments of the girls - these photos mostly convey a sensual blasé boredom usually found in fashion mags.
posted by helion at 10:25 AM on April 11, 2011


naked women on the beach seem like a very strange choice.

not if you are a lesbian.

I would love to see the teenage boys rooms.

googling for something like that is difficult.

Do teenage boys really not decorate their rooms?

i am a male (albeit gender different), and I plastered my walls with The Smiths/Morrissey, The Cure, Sinead O'Connor, Prince, Twin Peaks, Detroit Tigers memorabilia and more.

I think the work is fairly explicit in trying to present what the photographer felt was "the natural habitat" of young women/teenage girls.

I think the opposite (or I misinterpret). I think the artist is trying to find something very unique for each of these women.

"... I also realized that under an air of self-assurance, those young women were often very fragile, self-conscious and confused. While their bodies were developing fast into women's bodies, they were still on many levels young girls who suddenly thought they had to behave like adults.

From there, emerged the idea of photographing each girl alone. I originally let the girls choose the place of their choice and was slowly welcomed into their bedrooms, an area that is theirs, that they can fully control, decorate, trash and be themselves in – within an outside world that is often intimidating."


Portfolio 2's photo gallery seems determined to keep showing me the same picture, unless I'm doing it wrong.

Huh? This and this and this or this: same picture?

Wow, girls who live in refugee camps have different rooms than girls who live in New England.

Actually, I found them remarkably similar.


Are you nuts? I hate to discount anyone's opinions, but some of you are making it hard to do so.

I was actually surprised that more women didn't affect a pinup pose.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:35 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


also, dittoing whomever said these aren't teenagers. the majority seem to be 17-22. technically teenagers are 13-19, I guess, but really after 17 or 18, you are a young adult.

"teenage girls" was definitely bad framing.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:36 AM on April 11, 2011


Personally, what struck me about these girls' rooms is how generic, consumerist, and ostentatious they are. Nothing but make-up, jewelry, and mountains of clothing and posters of fashion models and stock-image sunsets. I don't really see the poses as depicting them as submissive or subdued. They seem more like the kind of staged "artistic" poses that teenage girls take of themselves for their facebook profiles. Yet on the other hand, the way they are posed does seem to rob them of agency: it seems almost as though they're being taken over by their rooms, in which they have worked so hard to make them "reflect" their personalities. For me, these images seem like a testimony to the way consumerism and media play on the insecurities of teenager girls: as was mentioned earlier, you can see the effects of the "gaze" on the way they construct their understandings of themselves. So it's interesting, in this light, how teenage girls' rooms are so often this weird mixture of infantilization (much more so than boys' rooms which somehow always seem more 'grown-up' in a way) with all their teddy bears and pink sparkly things and sexualization (make-up, skimpy clothing, posters of half-naked models).

I wish these photos could have done more to unveil that kernel of human under all the self-conscious artifice. Instead, these pictures seem to take these teenagers at face-value.
posted by adso at 10:37 AM on April 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


"teenage girls" was definitely bad framing.

No one in the first gallery is over 19, and from the artist's statement it appears that the genesis of the project was concerned with adolescence. However, I agree that I framed this poorly.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:40 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I was a teen girl, I put pictures of naked/scantily clad women on my walls because I found (find) women attractive. Imagine that!

As someone who has lived in MA for most of her life, it kinda bugged me that most of these girls are from rich towns, and the girls who are from poorer areas all seem to be screaming, "hey! Look at me! I'm from a financially disadvantaged family!"

Goddamn I am so happy no one took a picture of me in front of my Coal Chamber poster when I was 16.
posted by giraffe at 10:46 AM on April 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


What surprises me is the size of all their beds. Most of them are sleeping in beds as large if not larger than the one my girlfriend and I BOTH sleep in. I'm pretty sure I was sleeping in a twin at the largest...my sister too...and we grew up pretty well off.

My apartment literally has more in common with the photos of a refugee camp in terms of second hand furniture and exposed power strips and we're not struggling. If anything these photos are a startling reminder of the wealth in this country (at least in certain communities)
posted by jnnla at 10:48 AM on April 11, 2011


I was always jealous of the girls that got to decorate their rooms however they wanted. My room looks more like a home office -- bare walls, lots of books and papers flying everywhere. With a bed and a Radiohead poster in the corner.
posted by btfreek at 10:55 AM on April 11, 2011


Teen Vogue does/did a feature similar to this, and the girls sure don't look down. They look smack out at the camera. (It's not in the online version, alas.)

I'm willing to bet that these shots are supposed to look contemplative or introspective, rather than asking the subjects to jump, ala Halsman.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:17 AM on April 11, 2011


Tavi did a neat fictional equivalent of this over at Style Rookie last year.
posted by almostmanda at 11:20 AM on April 11, 2011


Bandwidth Limit Exceeded
The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later.


http://www.raniamatar.com is hosted by Techark Internet Services. So they really used up 150 GB of bandwidth on Techark's cheapest $8 plan?
posted by crapmatic at 11:21 AM on April 11, 2011


I think the awkward transitional nature of the teenage years is nicely encapsulated in the memory of a time when my bedroom had both a winged unicorn poster (heavy on the pinks, purples, and sparkly sparkles) and a Cliff Burton poster.

Eventually, I didn't really find Cliff all that interesting anymore.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:21 AM on April 11, 2011


Do teenage boys really not decorate their rooms?

I thought posters went with adolescence like acne. I devoted a lot of teen effort to making my bedroom say exactly who I thought I was (13-15ish: Star Wars and Star Trek posters; 15ish-16ish: hand-drawn maps and LOTR paraphernalia; 16ish-to college: band and anti-Reagan posters). Even my brother, a little younger and more conventionally "guy" had a few sports and metal posters on his walls. And as near as I recall, all of my acquaintances (nerds like me, mostly, but not all) had pictures or posters on their walls, of swimsuit models if nothing else.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:49 AM on April 11, 2011


mrgrimm, I didn't deny there was more than one picture, what I was driving at was that the php seemed to be malfunctioning. Whereas in gallery 1 a click on a photo got you another, in gallery 2 after a certain point I kept getting the same one, even if I clicked on different thumbnails. And now the site is hosed altogether, so your links aren't doing the trick.
posted by randomkeystrike at 11:55 AM on April 11, 2011


Bandwidth Limit Exceeded
The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later.


Sad panda is sad.

I am really curious to see this. And I can't.
posted by zizzle at 11:59 AM on April 11, 2011


the only wall decor I had was a framed print of Monet's water lillies

phunnimee, I think we had the same room. My folks moved us every few years, so it really was about resale value. I identified more with the refugee camp rooms, in a way.

Of course, in college I went hog wild with room decoration. And now that I have my own house, I paint the walls the colors I damn please. Shoot, I just painted a picture of a goat on one wall in my attic studio. Just cos I felt like it.
posted by medeine at 12:00 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I cannot see the site, which makes me sad, but as a dude I cannot think of a friend in those years who didn't have at least some decorative element on their walls.
posted by maxwelton at 12:01 PM on April 11, 2011


Do teenage boys really not decorate their rooms?

I hung some paintings and prints in my room. I think I had a lot of posters but they were all rolled up inside of storage tubes. I tended to do most of my expression\customization at the time through/on my pc, my bass and writing. We moved a lot until I was around 13 so maybe I just never got attached to any sort of room significance.
posted by zephyr_words at 12:02 PM on April 11, 2011


She must have paid her overage because the site is back up.
posted by JayG at 12:38 PM on April 11, 2011


My room in mid/late 1980s.

Pink then white
Posters of Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Beatles, Julian Lennon, The Godfathers, John Lennon

Guess I missed the whole Van Halen, Poison music train. Oh well.
posted by stormpooper at 12:45 PM on April 11, 2011


It's funny, I was a teenage male once, and never decorated the walls of my room. Not sure why. Just never really occurred to me to put stuff up. I do recall seeing depictions of teens on tv and movies, their bedroom walls plastered with posters, magazine clippings and such. But this seemed pretty alien to the guys I hung with in real life. I thought that must have been something only white males did, on tv and in the movies. Sort of like how Ferris Bueller had things like an Emulator, a Gretsch guitar, TV, stereo system, phone, etc. in his room, all just to dicker around with when he was neglecting homework. And of course, his walls were covered with stuff floor to ceiling, too.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:55 PM on April 11, 2011


I had a life-sized coffin which my dad made as a Halloween lawn prop, and stark white walls with a triangular spray-on "chalkboard" on one wall.

I was an insufferable tool at that age.
posted by everichon at 1:01 PM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, and at the same time, strangely disappointing, perhaps all the more interesting for it.
posted by eeeeeez at 1:04 PM on April 11, 2011


I can't help but find pictures of pregnant teenagers in candy pink rooms unbearably depressing.
posted by sawdustbear at 1:36 PM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had a poster of David Lee Roth doing the splits while wearing buttless chaps.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:44 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Personally, what struck me about these girls' rooms is how generic, consumerist, and ostentatious they are. Nothing but make-up, jewelry, and mountains of clothing and posters of fashion models and stock-image sunsets. Nothing but make-up, jewelry, and mountains of clothing and posters of fashion models and stock-image sunsets.

Really? I don't see lots of jewelry or makeup at all. And I see a cat and a guitar and a dressmaker dummy and all kinds of things that hint at who they are in a LOT of these pics. And I do think that anyone's bedroom is going to have clothes in it! These are not kitchens or garages, after all.

Makes me wonder what your room has in it that shows, simply by looking at it, the kind of person you are.

I look around my room and I see a big bureau with clothes I need to put away and books sprawled across it (probably most representative of me, but you can't really see the titles from where I am) and a jewelry box (though I rarely wear jewelry). I am currently seated on our sleigh bed with my cat sleeping beside me. There's a TV, and a mirror, and there are candles on our nightstand along with the phone. Behind the sleigh bed are two art prints on the wall (pierre auguste cot's Printemps and La Tempete) that I happen to like for their color composition and style and the expressions on the faces, but what that says about me, I don't know--a stranger might think I am into storms, or enamored with Springtime or even 'swinging' with attractive couples!
posted by misha at 2:28 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


what I was driving at was that the php seemed to be malfunctioning

duh. thanks for clarifying.

posted by mrgrimm at 2:41 PM on April 11, 2011


I was most disturbed by the bare-belly pregnant pose. Like, does your shirt not cover your belly? Or are you just set on making this photo ENTIRELY about your being a teen pregnancy statistic?

I blame 16 & Pregnant. Or Secret Life. Or both.
posted by litnerd at 2:51 PM on April 11, 2011


I thought it was cool to see how much work some of the girls had done to make their rooms interesting.

I also think it is interesting that so many people seem to project problems regarding assertiveness and consumerism upon girls who, to me, seem to be relaxing in their room. But that's art for you.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 3:07 PM on April 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Is there a picture of Candy's room?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:39 PM on April 11, 2011


Or are you just set on making this photo ENTIRELY about your being a teen pregnancy statistic?

Or they are proud of their pregnancy/in love with their unborn child. You know, if you're gonna have the baby, you might as well not feel completely shameful about it.

And we already know all about awkward pregnancy photos. Women (and men) can act unusually at that time.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:40 PM on April 11, 2011


Hmmmm feels a bit by the numbers to me - Lauren Greenfield does this kind of thing very well.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:55 PM on April 11, 2011


He would see faces in movies, on T.V., in magazines, and in books...He thought that some of these faces might be right for him...And through the years, by keeping an ideal facial structure fixed in his mind...Or somewhere in the back of his mind...That he might, by force of will, cause his face to approach those of his ideal...The change would be very subtle...It might take ten years or so...Gradually his face would change its' shape...A more hooked nose...Wider, thinner lips...Beady eyes...A larger forehead.

He imagined that this was an ability he shared with most other people...They had also molded their faces according to some ideal...Maybe they imagined that their new face would better suit their personality...Or maybe they imagined that their personality would be forced to chang' to fit the new appearance...This is why first impressions are often correct...Although some people might have made mistakes...They may have arrived at an appearance that bears no relationship to them...They may have picked an ideal appearance based on some childish whim or momentary impulse...Some may have gotten half-way there, and then changed their minds.

He wonders if he too might have made a similar mistake.

posted by Meatbomb at 4:17 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was struck by how many '90s touchstones were represented in these photos, since they're so recent. Kurt Cobain, Green Day, Pulp Fiction, Alice in Chains.

And, honestly, the first preggo pic made me smile. I looked at her age, and thought, "Huh, that's what my mom looked like when she was 17." She was pregnant with me.
posted by Leta at 5:07 PM on April 11, 2011


two of the girls in this series have the same comforter i have. they were 13 and 18. i'm 25. i don't know how to feel about this...
posted by lisawin at 5:19 PM on April 11, 2011


Do girls really leave bras hanging around in their rooms nowadays, or were those "planted?" I'm thinking those were placed for ambience or something. But I'm codgery I spose.
posted by rahnefan at 6:52 PM on April 11, 2011


I think the 'boys don't decorate their rooms like girls' thing might have something to do with the gender dynamics of the household: when you're a teen girl, your parents (and probably your mom) make/s all of the decisions about the decoration of the rest of the house or apartment. Your bedroom, though, is *yours* -- like your body, one of the few things you 'own'. So you cover it with graffiti and posters and statements about penises of cheese. It's the same impulse that makes you dye your hair manic panic hot pink, or get your tongue pierced, or spend all the money you make at your after-school job on makeup and a certain style of skirt, or wear the same pair of battered jeans and Goodwill T-shirt every day for a year.

Being a teenager is hard. I don't know what it's like to be a teenage boy, but being a teenage girl is a special kind of hell. You negotiate it any way you can.

I assumed that the photos of models in bathing suits are models to emulate (that's what beauty looks like; that's the size my thighs should be; I have to eat *less* and exercise!).
posted by jrochest at 6:57 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, that is the most upscale refugee camp I have ever seen. It hardly looks any different on the inside than these high-end suburban Boston homes.

You're on to something.
posted by falameufilho at 9:29 PM on April 11, 2011


....I only saw one or two "refugee camps" -- the rest of them were simply from "Beiruit."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:48 AM on April 12, 2011


Do girls really leave bras hanging around in their rooms nowadays, or were those "planted?" I'm thinking those were placed for ambience or something. But I'm codgery I spose.

Two or three decades ago, most bras were meant to be kept out of sight. They were ugly; if they were architecture you would call them brutalist. Bras now are fun and pretty, with nice materials and good design. Bra straps can be shown in public, and hanging a bra (perhaps to dry, or just to grab later) off the light fixture is no big deal.
posted by Forktine at 6:08 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, that is the most upscale refugee camp I have ever seen. It hardly looks any different on the inside than these high-end suburban Boston homes.

I was a patsy, Michael.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:10 AM on April 12, 2011


Do girls really leave bras hanging around in their rooms nowadays, or were those "planted?"

You're not supposed to put bras in the washer/dryer--it can weaken the elastic and bend the underwires. Thus, bras are often the only item of clothing that you hang up to let dry. They don't look out of place at all to me.
posted by almostmanda at 6:19 AM on April 18, 2011


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