THIN/Girl Culture

January 30 – April 26, 2009
Documentary photography by Lauren Greenfield
Smith College Museum of Art

THIN is a photographic essay and a documentary film about the treatment of eating disorders. In 1997, while on assignment forTime, Greenfield began documenting the lives of patients at the Renfrew Center in Coconut Creek, Florida, a forty-bed residential facility for the treatment of women with eating disorders. She subsequently returned to Renfrew to take more photographs, and was eventually given unprecedented access to film the daily lives of patients. Thin provides a window into the complicated and difficult process of treatment, the culture of rehab, and the experience of struggling with an eating disorder. The result is an experiential and emotional journey that allows a greater understanding of the complexity of eating disorders: that they are not simply about food or body image or self-esteem, but a tangle of personal, familial, cultural and mental health issues.

The body has become a primary expression of individual identity for girls in contemporary American culture. Girl Culture investigates girl’s relationships to their bodies and the ways in which they use body projects to establish their identities. The photographs explore the relationship between girl’s inner lives and emotional development, and the material world and popular culture. They also reveal the exhibitionist nature of modern femininity through moments of vanity and performance in everyday life.

“I would rather be dumb than a slut. But I would rather be a slut than be fat or ugly.” – Mary Cady, age 18, Southern Belle


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