Lauren Greenfield is no stranger to capturing female culture at any stage or age of life. Greenfield has many photographic accomplishments under her belt, from Sundance films to shooting high profile celebrities such as Donatella Versace and Tupac Shakur, but the vulnerability that she has shown in everyday women through her work has made it the more profound. Thin is the exploration of women of different ages at the Renfrew Center in Florida receiving treatment for their eating disorders. The book is presented with stories from a handful of the girls and photographs with descriptive captions about the contents of the piece. The photos and text in the book lean a little grim, showing real struggles of women in the center. However, that is the state of the mind of most now-a-days; to achieve a body type that is plastered everywhere and does not reflect most of the female population.
The abundance of images in the book are accompanied with personal journal entries, drawings the residents of the center have made, and the interviews about themselves that has led them to this point. They talk about all their worse fears coming true while being at the center and it shows in the photographs. You can see two girls holding hands while eating dessert as part of their treatment to help each other overcome the struggle of what is considered a treat for most. Another woman by the name of Jennifer can be seen crying on the phone because she doesn’t want her boyfriend to see her if she gains weight for the fear of him no longer loving her. When you read the interviews, there are women who are ready to change and those who are not willing and want to go back to their old life and what they were doing outside of the center. The anger is some of their eyes, blaming their parents for either the abuse they suffered or for sending them to get help, it pierces right through the paper the photograph sits on and straight to the viewer.
Without including the personal effects or interviews, the photos alone would serve just as much of an impact. The look of being uncomfortable while facing a task that is changing the life they have built for themselves, only now to be toppled over shows in every image, no matter the different responses expressed for being there. Everything in the book truly hits home for most adolescent and young adult women in the modern world. The culture that we live in now may be evolving more into accepting of all body types, but they still promote the one true type that is thin and attractive everywhere. Like it or not, the female body has become part of a woman’s identity, whether she uses it as a characteristic or someone else labels her with it. It is a long road to walk before we are able to turn our backs from what society has created as a “social norm” in terms of body type.
Greenfield’s powerful work breaks your heart with every page turn. Thin is a conversation starter on how we can do better as human beings living amongst each other, to lift each other up instead of constantly making people feel inferior to eat in public or even just living the way they want. The fact that these fears the women in the book have were all created from people they loved, trusted, or looked up to, that says a lot. It can be stopped and it can be changed. Thin is the PSA that we need for the youth growing up and those that are suffering now before it gets to be too late.
If you are interested in purchasing Thin, you can purchase it on the Amazon.
Written by Madison Rich
Photographs by Madison Rich