We are always the same age inside. ~Gertrude Stein
For the past two years I have been documenting various coming of age traditions for girls in and around the United States. I began this project by focusing on the Quinceañera, an elaborate fifteenth birthday celebration for many girls of Latin American heritage and Catholic upbringing. The Quinceañera celebrates the transition from girl to woman and it would be difficult to overstate its importance; for many, its significance trumps even a wedding. Quinceañeras are intensely feminine, in addition to the voluminous princess dresses worn, over the course of the night the girl will change from flats to high heels, replace a small tiara with a larger one, and be given a ceremonial last doll. As I’ve refined my idea for the idea for my project, I find relevancy in many events: debutante balls, sweet sixteens, prom, Bat Mitzvahs, Purity Balls and more, and I have begun documenting these celebrations as well.
I have long been drawn to photographing young women, and especially so when beauty and artifice are highlighted. I began to photograph when I was myself a fifteen year old, my shyness and insecurity leading me to an obsession with beauty and fashion. In those days my female friends were my models. I am a grown woman now but the age of my subjects has not changed. In so many ways I feel no different than the young girl I once was, and through my lens I am partially examining my old self and attempting to seek answers to her questions, even as I struggle to come to terms with the loss of my own youth. I learn with each frame.