Lora Mathis is a real girl.
Her ongoing photo series, Girl, is all about finding magic in the mundane. Her crisp, intimate shots of physical ephemera—pubic hair, menstrual blood— inject grim whimsy into the banality of the everyday. Lora’s Girl shaves with disposable razors and wears plain underwear. She buys drugstore makeup brushes and sleeps on sterile cotton sheets. There are no brands or glamour associated with the biological rites of passage that turn girls into women. But Mathis treats her subjects carefully, and even the inanimate objects she photographs are warm with meaning. Aside from a close up of an abdomen, there is no girl in Girl. Instead, Mathis utilizes clean lines, rosé shadows, and everyday talismans to paint a portrait of the kind of girl you’d meet in real life—the one you’ll never see on TV.
“So much of our energy is devoted to making ourselves into something larger than what we really are,” Lora told me.
Does she think the experiences of “ordinary” girls are depicted honestly?
“Girls are shown as beautiful, smooth things that don’t do anything remotely ‘disgusting.’ My goal (though how the project will turn out is unclear) is to depict both the beautiful and the natural side of femininity.”