Monday, February 6, 2012

Women As Objects: The Tumblr Teen

Being a kid is harder work than it looks; it isn't just about the politics of re-blogging. Los Angeles author and artist Kate Durbin has recently begun exploring the virtual world of teen girls, experienced through the medium of tumblr aesthetics. "Women as Objects started as I was observing how radical and amazing these teenage girls on tumblr are." says Durbin. "Their entire community fascinates me. I love the way they encourage each other, share secrets, and even hate on each other so passionately...and the whole "it's not IRL" issue just isn't that big of a deal really, because these kids grew up on the net. It's like a secret community that anyone can observe, and because the girls know that they are being observed, they have this awesome opportunity to utilize the medium of tumblr to become who they truly are/who they want to be. They aren't limited by circumstances. In this sense they objectify themselves through the medium too. They use images of themselves, fixed/fucked in photoshop, turn themselves into quivering .gifs, etc, beg for attention in comments--but it's all done totally willfully, instead of traditional notions of objectification of women where women are passive victims of the 'male gaze.'"
Durbin reblogs the images and text that these girls post, creating an online archive for all the snippets that echo the immediate, the urgent and the brief; everything that being young is about. Sexuality, fashion and music are all here, along with more intimate pieces that reveal the true human behind the masses of pink-haired model photos. The result is a surprisingly honest portrait of what it means to be a teen: often awkward, seeking approval through visual desires, and, occasionally, refreshingly open. "The girls contact me sometimes. I never reach out to them directly, just follow them, so its up to them to read my page and figure out what I'm doing. Sometimes they are confused at first, but then they seem excited about what I am doing."

Durbin's fascination with these URLives is constantly expanding; next year she has plans to bring the project into the physical realm in the form of a book called Satanic Teen Blogging. "I just hope more people check out the project, and mostly that they check out these girls. They are truly inspiring, awesome, talented, and so open with sharing their lives."
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