Ellie Brown – Two Girls: My Sisters 1996-2006
“Since 1996 I have been photographing my sisters in their quest for identity and exploring supposed gender stereotypes. I began by comparing my own childhood to that of my sisters with our different mothers. The work took a shift in content when my sisters entered the pre-adolescence years. Although still very childlike, there was a greater self-consciousness that my sisters naturally gained at this age. They showed greater concern for their appearance in the images and become more directive and critical with the final product. I became interested in capturing their changing bodies, their changing attitudes towards their situations in life, as well as the new self-consciousness about being photographed. For the first time I heard concerns about makeup, boys and gaining weight. These conversations both amazed and repulsed me. While trying to understand my sister’s girlhood it was rapidly disappearing.
Emily Hiding, 1996
Water Passing, 1998
Backyard Swingset, 1998
Abigail 11, 2000
Now my sisters are 20 and 21. As they have grown, the work has also evolved. The work now depicts the serious and meandering quest for identity that occurs in the adolescent years. I’ve documented the intense pressure to fit in by looking and acting right according to standards set by the media that gets adopted by small, powerful cliques. The results of this pressure has manifested into self-loathing in the form of anorexia in one sister and a large amount of attention paid to appearance and consumerism by the other.
After School, 2001
Emily Sucking Ice, 2004
My work will continue to evolve as my sisters’ issues change, but the work’s purpose will stay the same. To me the images of my sisters are representative of la larger cultural comment on girls’ issues. With the images, I seek to open dialogue between girls and their peers, parents and educators to encourage girls to be aware of the pressures surrounding them and emerge as a confident and secure adolescent women.
Abby and Winston, 2006
Emily Spreading Gown, 2006