Teen girls are rarely taken seriously. They’re seen as the peak of hysterical womanhood, hormones totally out of control, rendering them nearly incapable of rational thought. The things that large numbers of them like—TV shows, bands, pop stars—are automatically cultural punchlines. But in at least one exhibit, teen girls are being taken seriously as artists.
New York curator Brittany Natale organized Teen Dream, an exhibit featuring photography, art, and zines by female-identified artists who range in aim from 15 to 21. She’s intimately aware of the way teen girls are so often dismissed. "When I was 17 I got screamed at by my high school dean for leaving class early to take care of my period in the bathroom (and got 3 detentions for even trying to explain this to him),” she tells The Creators Project. "I remember being so embarrassed and thinking to myself, ‘Is this guy really making me feel ashamed of something that ultimately had the power to bring him into this world?' Meanwhile, boys were allowed to sleep in the back of the room during classes if they were up late playing in a sports game the night before."
"And of course this example is on a much smaller scale,” she continues, "But it just shows you how dismissed young females are by society —whether it is in the classroom, in the workplace, in Congress, on the street or elsewhere. I feel like it is always 'boys will be boys' and 'girls will be…expected to be totally perfect, completely wholesome, yet emotionless.’"
Natale connected with the young talent featured in the exhibit through her work with Zine Club Mag and Crybaby Zine, and also reached out to contributors from Rookie Magazine. "Together, these works force the viewer to recognize some of these intangible issues that have plagued women for years and years, that society still does not acknowledge fully,’ she writes. "Girls of all backgrounds need to be encouraged from a young age that it is totally, completely human to feel emotions, to have a voice, to be outspoken and to embrace what they feel are their flaws. Too many times girls have been shamed into silence in so many areas of their lives, my younger sisters, myself and my friends included, and I think this is something that needs to change. We don't need anyone to validate our existence."