Samantha Conlon

From a young age, even before birth, children are gendered and throughout the process of childhood these notions tied to their gender are reinforced. Pink signifies girl, blue means boy. The best thing you can be as little boy is ‘a big strong boy’, the fate of a little girl is to be ‘good’. The girl’s bedroom in these photos serves as a culmination of these ideas, the pink paint, the flower pillows, the wall decal text that reads ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’. All of these symbols seek to firmly position the child as “girl” – her identity is to be borrowed from many ideas of girl that have come before and that she will now grow up to learn.

Through my body of work titled Girl As Weapon I’ve began an investigation into the media’s influence on the identity of young girls. Through house visits and interviews I have been collecting experiences and data to pose questions such as: can girls really negotiate the world of capitalism and find a place in it where they are more than a commodity? Is there a way to invade this language of advertisements and make it your own? During these moments when I was invited into bedrooms inhabited by daughters, sisters, I began to discover the idea of girls performing ‘girl’. These learned queues that make a girl ‘girly’, which could well be their natural state, but it becomes hard to decipher its origin with years of identity construction by external influences such as Disney films, our family’s influence and advertising. I wanted to use this series as a way to investigate the commodification of girlhood and subvert the idea of a “good little girl” by positioning her as an entity with agency of her own. 

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