cover image GIRL CULTURE


Lauren Greenfield, Chronicle Books, . . Chronicle, $40 (156pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-3790-3

Greenfield's stark photographs of girls and young women doing everything from practicing Tae-Bo in Beverly Hills to performing lap dances in Las Vegas aren't for the faint of heart. But the collection is so hard to put down that it's not destined to languish on a coffee table, either. Images of teenagers at weight loss camp or getting ready for a quinceañera (a 15th birthday ritual in the Hispanic community) come to life thanks to frank, first-person monologues from the girls themselves. A photograph of Erin, 24, getting "blind-weighed" (with her back to the scale) at an eating disorder clinic in Coconut Creek, Fla., is accompanied by this hair-raising commentary: "I'm known for my eating disorder. It's my identity.... My nickname is Itty-Bitty, so what am I going to be without it? It's what makes me special. So I would just be ordinary without it. And for me, that's hard to admit." Although much of the text focuses on typical (but still depressing) teen issues such as peer pressure and drug abuse, readers should hang in there for glimmers of optimism and even brilliance. Jessica, 20, a member of Stanford University's women's swim team, says, "I think any female athlete has a sense of being kind of like Wonder Woman. You are able to do things that are a little closer to superhuman than normal girls. There's a little bit of Wonder Woman in everyone." Indeed, Greenfield's unflinching portraits, which will be at New York's Pace/MacGill Gallery this fall and will travel to the West Coast, are a testimony to that spirit. (Oct.)