Another Girl Another Planet
The conundrum with reviewing this book is simply that this reviewer is neither a teenager nor a female. Valerie Phillips, who is the photographer, and Arvida Bystrom are obviously speaking to an audience of readers that is almost impossible to relate to being male and a boomer; that would be yours truly.
From an esthetic point of the view, Phillips’ photos are as true to life and almost raw as it gets, reminding one of the school of work that Diane Arbus popularized with her work. Of course, the newer interpretations are a 21st century extrapolation and maybe even a stretch of the imagination when compared to the Arbus oeuvre, but then again, you can be reasonably sure the comparison was not intentional.
The girls featured within are probably a great cross section of teens from all over the place but there is one very troubling feature and that is the subjects are primarily, if not almost totally, Caucasian. At a time when so much attention is paid to diversity and acceptance, it seems odd to have not been more purposely inclusive in that respect. Yes, the book might be a great morale booster for young girls as not all of the fearless girls are beautiful by conventional standards. Hopefully that aspect goes a long way to ease the pressure for acceptance among many young girls and their peers.
Who exactly is this book’s target audience? Not many kids spend their discretionary income on books of any nature. With that in mind, it is difficult to say if this is a book that needs to be owned, perused, or appreciated on any level. Yet again, the only redemption is that the book might be seen as an example of a genre of photography that eludes the intended purpose of featuring, empowering, and spotlighting ”fearless females” of the nubile variety.