For our upcoming exhibition, “I Am A Girl,” we worked with non-profits to seek semi-anonymous answers from girls and women around the world that explore identity as a girl. Participants were asked to give their first name and age, and then answer questions about their experiences of girlhood. Read on to find out what they said.

What does being a “girl” mean to you?

I’m a woman now so no longer identify as a girl. However I’m not sure if I ever identified as a girl really. I think my identity was more just me, Amber. A person. I wasn’t a girly girl or a tomboy. Being a girl to me means being a kid- being carefree, having no responsibility and enjoying the company of my girl friends.

What is your favorite thing about being a “girl”?

As an adult woman now, my favorite thing about being a woman is motherhood. So in retrospect, my favorite thing about  being born a girl is the opportunity to become a mother.

What is something about being a “girl” that you wish more people knew about?

That the emotional hormonal rollercoaster of puberty and starting your periods is really hard – people should be kinder and more forgiving to girls as they navigate that tricky path.

How would you say society views girlhood in your country?

I think society does not respect girls (or children or women) enough still. I think girls are seen as silly and frivolous a lot of the time. They may be thought of as cute, endearing and, as they mature, intelligent, but overall young girls are often not taken seriously enough in their own right. Society can be patronizing towards them sometimes, I think.

Can you think of and describe a defining moment of your girlhood? Perhaps a time when you felt a strong connection to being a “girl” or when you felt distanced from the way society expects “girls” to be.

I remember at summer camp all the girls wanted to kiss the boys. I did not want to kiss the boys, so was left out of the group. I was not yet feeling an interest in being girly and flirty with boys- so kept myself to myself. I’m still glad I was true to myself, even though it was hard. Sometimes you have to be who are, girl or boy, even if it goes against the crowd.

Responses by Amber, 51

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