Rania Matar’s A Girl and Her Room project is exactly what it sounds like: photos of teenage girls in their bedrooms. But its simplicity is deceptive. A girl’s room is her one sanctuary from parents, teachers, and peers alike — the place that is entirely her own. As Matar discovered while observing her own daughter’s transformation from child to adult, girls are the most themselves in their bedrooms, and how they choose to decorate them says a great deal about this transitional stage, when teens are discovering who they are, were, and will be. “Posters of rock stars, political leaders or top models were often displayed above a bed still covered with stuffed animals; mirrors were always an important part of the room, a reflection of the girls’ image to the outside world,” Matar writes.
Matar’s decision to include teens from the US and throughout the Middle East (as well as a few from Spain) in the ongoing project adds an additional dimension; it illustrates, without forcing the issue, how much American girls and their Lebanese, Palestinian, and Israeli counterparts have in common. In one photo, Mara from Boston has scrawled graffiti on her own walls (“I will never deep throat a penis of cheese”). In another, Hiba, who lives in a Beirut refugee camp, has written (in Latin letters) and drawn butterflies on the inside door of her closet. A pink-haired emo girl from New England recalls a Lebanese refugee in a hot-pink shirt that says “Rock Star.” A teen in Beirut cuddles her cat while a teen in Boston snuggles in bed with her dog. Page through some of our favorite shots after the jump, and then visit Matar’s website for more images from the extensive project.
Mara 15, Boston MA, 2009