LIFESTYLE

'Being Inbetween' Photo Series Empowers Girls On The Brink Of Adulthood

'Girls of this age are often bombarded with advertising.'

26/04/2016 10:17

There's no doubt about it, being a young girl is tough. 

One minute, you're content playing with dolls, the next you're worrying your thighs are too big or your hair is messy.

Through her new photo series 'Being Inbetween' photographer Carolyn Mendelsohn explores the complex and confusing time when girls are around the ages of 10 and 12.

"The aim is to give girls of this age a platform, to empower them and create a beautiful portrait of them as they really are," Mendelsohn tells The Huffington Post UK.

"They are so many things; strong, characterful, wise, fearful, fearless, funny, and unique, but often people underestimate them and don’t listen to them. Often all these interesting individuals are defined as ‘tweens’ - a group."

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"I used to aspire to be a teacher, but now I want to be a vet. I dislike it when people are mean to other people, because it is really hard to go through." - Alice, aged 10.

Mendelsohn's series is also an antidote to the body image pressure girls tend to pick up on at this age.

"Girls of this age are often bombarded with advertising and marketing aimed at tweens – I have a daughter of this age, and see it all the time," she says.

"I I feel it is important that this doesn’t define who they are. I wanted to explore this by taking beautiful real portraits of these girls. Honest ones, where they are given the chance to be themselves and celebrating who they are at this point in their lives."

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"When I am an adult I want to be an architect.When I get enough money I will move to Romania and raise wolves.” - Abigail,aged 10

Mendelsohn came up with the concept of 'Being Inbetween' after contemplating strong memories she has of her own "tween" years. 

"The things people said to me at that point really stuck in my head," she says.

 "One memory is particularly vivid: me aged twelve on a balmy summers day. I spent the most part of the morning in my room plucking up the courage to go downstairs in a pair of shorts. I was only a small thing at that time, but incredibly self-conscious.

"I remember walking slowly down the stairs to be met by a laughing parental comment: 'Oh my goodness! Your legs look so chubby.'

"I ran upstairs mortified; feeling exposed, and I didn’t show my legs for years, until a friend commented on her confusion about my attitude to my 'chunky legs'."

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"I dislike pigeons, clowns and really big dogs!” - Eve, aged 10

After writing a blog about the "inbetween age", Mendelsohn put a call out on social media using her website, Twitter and Facebook looking for girls to participate. 

"I stuck posters up, and I was invited to talk about my work on radio and also at public talks. I have children of a similar age which helps," she says.

"The most important thing was that (and still is because the work is ongoing) the girls involved understand what the series is about, and want to be part of it."

Mendelsohn invited the girls to come for the photographs and interviews in clothes of their own choice.

This ranged from jeans and t-shirts to a onesie and a full on costume.

"It is important to me that the girls feel comfortable and wear something that represents who they are. So it is always interesting seeing what they have chosen to wear," she says.

"The answers they have given me to the questions I asked them, were really insightful; sometimes poignant, sometimes funny, often profound." 

Check out some of the stunning images below or visit Carolyn Mendelsohn's website to see more of her work

  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    I wish to stop the world from being unkind." - Imogen, aged 11
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "I fear that everybody’s going to forget who we are one day."€ - Anne-Marie, aged 12
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "I would like to be an author, and get my book published;I have already started writing one." - Daisy, aged 10
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "I don't like strawberries, or trying to do something and not being able to do it." - Eleanor, aged 11
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "I am scared of being in a room by myself, when it is completely silent." - Betty, aged 12
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "I love my family!I hate it when people are mean to each other."€ Caitlin, aged 11
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "I wish for everyone to be treated equally."€ - Jenny, aged 11
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "My ambition is to be a tri-athlete, and my hope for the future is to stop wars." - Isobel, aged 10
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "I'd wish that cancer would be gone in the world." - Jolie, aged 11
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "I wish that my great grandparents would come back." - Lucy, aged 12
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "I wish that everything was peaceful, and that there were no tears or sadness." - Lara, aged 12
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "I love it when I’m acting on stage, and fudge and chocolate obviously." - Lottie, aged 11
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "I wish to have a happy life and accomplish my dreams."€ - Olivia, aged 12
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "My ambition is to save many people'€™s lives."€ - Maddison, aged 11
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "My ambition is to go to Space." - Olivia, aged 10
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "I would like to tell you I’m autistic -I don't always understand things in the same way as other people." - Jamie-Leigh, aged 11
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "My hopes for the future are that everyone will be happy, there will be no wars, and no-one will be homeless." - Celia, aged 10
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "€œI fear that one day we will all be the same, that people will get an idea of how we should live and how we should act, and how we should look like, and everyone will be afraid to be different." - Mabel, aged 11
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "I want to be a scientist who studies the Northern Lights." - Orla, aged 10
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    'I dream of being in the Olympics and my wish is that my family never die." - Senua, aged 10
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "I hate spiders, because I don't like how they crawl. Their feet shouldn'€'t go that quickly in my opinion."€ - Ruby, aged 12
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "My dream is that I will design the new empire state building." - Pheobe, aged 12
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "My dream is to get some art of mine in a gallery, or to get a book published." - Sadie, aged 12
  • Carolyn Mendelsohn
    "€œI love my family and chocolate, and I hate courgette! If I had one wish I would want to fly."€ -Tabitha, aged10

Carolyn Mendelsohn's next exhibition will be on the 28th - 30th May at Gallery 2, Saltsmill, Saltaire, West Yorkshire.

 

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