#WCW Lauren Greenfield – An Exclusive By Myla Dalbesio
WHY WE LOVE HER:
You must remember the commercial. On a studio set, a rotation of people are asked by a director to perform actions “like a girl.” “Throw like a girl,” the director calls out. We see a few limp wrists flinging. “Run like a girl,” the director says. The subjects prance squealing across the screen, arms flapping, hairstyles kept in check. Then a series of adolescent girls are introduced, and asked the same question. Gratifyingly, we see them swinging their arms with might, chucking whatever imaginary ball they are holding across the room. We see them sprinting back and forth, running as fast as they can. “When,” the commercial asks us, “did doing something ‘like a girl’ become an insult?”
“Yes,” you think, “At what point in our lives does this demeaning categorization happen?” You ponder it for a second. That’s when you start to cry (or, if you’re like us you do anyway). The director calling out those prompts, the one who went on to win numerous awards for the short and prove that advertising can be both culturally important and socially significant, is Lauren Greenfield.
But this project, while significant as a mainstream cultural touchstone, pales in comparison to her more in-depth photographic projects. Fascinated by the tropes and trappings of female culture and American consumerism, Greenfield’s photographic compendium takes us deep into the heart of the American dream, peeling back layers and showing us the real, intricate darkness behind what drives our everyday lives. Her first book, Fast Forward, chronicles both sides of the wealth divide in Los Angeles, following early 90’s youth culture as they attempt to navigate (and escape) their socio-economic status. Succeeded by projects like Girl Culture and Thin (an in-depth portrait of women living within a Floridian eating disorder clinic), Greenfield exposed the bare bones of what shapes the hearts and minds of young American women. Her work is honest, intimate, nostalgic, relatable, touching… the list could go on ad nauseum.
Greenfield’s newest project, Generation Wealth (released May 1st from Phaidon), presents a compilation of 25 years worth of photographs, focusing on extreme wealth and the extreme measures taken to attain it. Certainly a timely exploration, given the Kardashian’s rise to American royalty, and the presence of a president who owns a gold-plated toilet. Generation Wealth promises to be a piercing examination of our current state of affairs, and how we ended up here.
Image Source: Source: Lauren Greenfield