My room as a teenager was a sanctuary-my only safe place. My room was me, more specifically though, it was what I wanted to be at the moment. I wanted to be as bold, tough and flawless as my favorite musicians on the magazine cutouts on my wall. Truth is, I wasn’t any of those things. In fact, I was timid and self-conscious, an anxious girl who found it hard to make it through some days as I struggled with an anxiety disorder.
Every girl battles with herself and the burden of the transitions that come along with the teenage years; whether good or bad, her room is just an imprint of what she is going through.
Photographer Rania Matar’s recent collection of photographs, A Girl in her Room, explores the teenage girl in her habitat (her room), to further understand the origin of a teenager’s way of being. Matar wanted to capture the universality of teenage behavior by photographing girls in the U.S and the Middle East- both cultures she is very familiar with.
I became fascinated with the similar issues girls at that age face, regardless of culture, religion and background, as they learn to deal with all the pressures that arise as they become conscious and aware of the surrounding world wherever this may be.
The room and the stuff in it serves as a metaphor of safety. This is the only place where she truly fits in. The room, above all, is an emotional place. A place where everything that surrounds her is exactly what she wants to be and feel regardless of her reality elsewhere. Her self is somewhere in there but it is not yet found. She wants to be the model in the magazines, she wants to be in a fantasy world, she wants to be consumed in music and books, she wants privacy and time away from her parents, she wants to be anyone other than herself and be anywhere but here.
I was discovering a person on the cusp on becoming an adult, but desperately holding on to the child she barely outgrew, a person on the edge between two worlds, trying to come to terms with this transitional time in her life and adjust to the person she is turning into. Posters of rock stars, political leaders or top models were displayed above a bed covered with stuffed animals; mirrors were an important part of the room, a reflection of the girls’ image to the world; personal objects, photos, clothes everywhere, chaotic jumbles of pink and black make-up and just stuff, seemed to give a sense of security and warmth to the room like a womb within the outside world.