This summer I've been contributing to a series of blog conversations with other women writers on diversity in teen literature. The topic we wrote on last week had to do with socioeconomic diversity. I posted about this series once before, so I'm not going to belabor it, but any writers (or readers) interested in diversity would do well to pop in and take a gander at this dynamic discussion.
Last week's topic was inspired by a photo essay entitled LOVE ME by award-winning photojournalist Maisie Crow. I want to call your attention to that today. These images, and the story they tell, are disturbing and soulful and screaming pretty loud from their stillness. They are well worth the time it takes to flip through, if you can stand to have your heart broken.
I can't look at these pictures without feeling the weight of everything that's wrong in the world. The worst bit isn't the poverty, either. It's the air of despair, of defeat, hanging over it all. I don't know if what's missing for this girl is education, or access, or self-esteem, or simply the chance to look in a mirror and see something other than closed doors all around. I wish I could hand her something better than hopelessness.
I count myself lucky to be far removed from the sorts of experiences that are playing out in the life of this girl, Autumn. I spend a lot of time in an intellectual and creative space, secure in the love of my family, my strength and independence, and all the possibilities of the future. It aches my heart that this can't be true of every young woman. Everyone has problems, yeah, but somehow images like this put a lot into perspective for me. It makes me want to reach out. It makes me want to try harder to change the world in the miniscule ways I might be able to. It makes me want to write more and live better and dream harder, on behalf of those who don't have the freedom to.
What do you feel, after seeing Autumn's story?
[Above photo copyright Maisie Crow]