Photo Essay: Little Princess
Portraits of young pageant girls.
The experiences of children often capture a culture more eloquently than any study or statistic. Jasmine Bakalarz has long made the lives of young people a focus of her work, and the photographs in her “Beauty Pageant” series reveal layers of inward and outward pressure like so much stiff taffeta. In these images, we see at once the prescribed identity foisted on women before they can even tie their own shoes and the desire to dress up, pretend and adorn that characterizes so much of childhood. The girls’ expressions, contrasted with their fantastical outfits, capture that great irony of childhood: limitless imagination with no material agency. As lips are glossed and necklaces fastened, the question of whether the pirate costumes, crinolines and crowns are projections of the girls themselves, or of their parents, is left open to interpretation.