I made two trips to Tijuana, México this fall to visit my beautiful babies at the orphange Cuidad de Angeles. Every time I go down I never want to leave. The kids bless my heart so much, so much more than I could ever bless them. Each child is literally a miracle; their stories are crazy yet they are alive and well.The young girls are soon entering their tween years which is apparent from their sassy selves. I lent Liliana my camera the past two visits and was shocked at how grown-up they pose in their photos. It's great with the juxtoposition of the things they take pictures of in their lives-- teddy bears, trash cans, backpacks, bed sheets. The pictures are a unique look at their world from their own perspective, not mine as a relative outsider, an older girl, an American, a visitor. They maintain their childhood while shooting Myspace-esque photos of themselves in the mirrors. I was intruiged when I got my camera back. I wonder, where did they learn the vanity of mirror self portraits? How did they learn to pose with sexy lips with the camera above their heads? These girls do not have abundant access to the internet; I don't even know if they are computer literate. Is it from TV, which they can and do freely watch? I was slightly disturbed that they are already learning to make suggestive faces and pouty lips at their age. It's too much a Lolita complex with their underlying naivite beneath the model posing. I don't want to ruin their childhood more by over analyzing their photos, but they had to have learned the sensual performance of picture posing from somewhere, it cannot possibly be innate. What could be innate is the desire to be beautiful-- both a cultural and universal construction. It seems like young girls are being taught earlier and earlier how to be desirable to the opposite sex, and the social networking sites seemed to have fed this in recent history. But these girls seem to be affected by the styles and inner culture of these sites by diffusion, not even having a Myspace or Facebook at all. I didn't start caring as much about my own personal appeal in photographs until about 13, and then even more at 15 when I opened my Myspace account. These girls are barely double digits.
Are they just having fun taking pictures of themselves or do they know what they are implying? Are they trying to be older? Are they trying to be sexy?