Historically, we are a nation that loves the idea of the makeover (take, for example, Charles Atlas, the skinny guy who had sand kicked in his face before he became big and brawny), and Lauren Greenfield illustrates this aspect of our national character in a memorable series of individual and group portraits taken at a weight-loss camp in New Yorkís Catskill Mountains. Fat is a special liability in adolescence, an emotional reality that these photographs present with great sensitivity. Greenfieldís portraits of overweight campers provide an unerring sense of the social and emotional costs associated with being a fat boy or girl in a culture that worships display of the body. As these campers wait in line to be weighed and measured, we wonder about the unseen but important parents, the money, and the values that prompt families to embark on this kind of therapeutic quest to make their children slim and, somehow, ìbetter.î Instead of being pedantic, Greenfieldís camera also asks us how we feel about the sight of bodies that are less than perfect by contemporary definition.
– Excerpt by Joan Jacobs Brumberg from the Introduction of Girl Culture by Lauren Greenfield published by Chronicle Books, 2002
Photographer/filmmaker Lauren Greenfield (Venice, CA) has garnered critical acclaim documenting modern youth culture, examining pervasive phenomena from eating disorders and the obsession with body image, to the extreme effects of consumerism. Author of the groundbreaking books, Fast Forward, Girl Culture, and Thin, Greenfield has been named one of the 25 most influential photographers (American PHOTO). Her work appears regularly in The New York Times Magazine, London Sunday Times Magazine, Time, and GQ, and is in many museum collections including the SFMOMA, the Getty, LACMA, Art Institute of Chicago, ICP, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Greenfieldís work was recently showcased in the Getty Museumís historical exhibition, Engaged Observers: Documentary Photography since the Sixties (2010). Her work is currently on view as a featured artist in the Beauty CULTure exhibition at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles, California, for which she was also commissioned to direct a 30-minute documentary (May-November, 2011). She directed and produced her first feature-length documentary film, THIN (HBO, 2006), about the treatment of eating disorders. THIN premiered at Sundance Film Festival, won Best Documentary at the London International Film Festival, and was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Direction. Her follow-up, kids + money (HBO, 2008), was also selected by Sundance, and won numerous awards. She is currently working on her next monograph, and feature length documentary film, about wealth and the American Dream for release in late 2012.