Thais and the Heart-Throb

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What first drew me to the above James Mollison’s pictures (from his Where Children Sleep essay) was that it looks like what my bedroom could have looked like as a preteen. The posters, flounce-y bed coverings, and reminiscent baby doll displays the transition between childhood and teen years, similar to what most Americans are used to in regards to a preteen girl’s bedroom.

The photo set examines Thais, an eleven year old girl from City of God, Brazil. From some quick Googling, City of God, or Cidade de Deus, is a neighborhood of one of Brazil’s largest cities, Rio de Janeiro. Historically, City of God has been a location of favelas, or shanty towns, and gang violence.

With this background information, Thais’s room is even more alluring because it portrays the juxtaposition of home-life and social life. We know nothing about Thais other than what her room looks like. We do not know if she or her family is involved in gangs or if she or they are trying to prevent gang involvement in the neighborhood. All we know is that Thais is a fan of Felipe Dylon, a Brazilian pop singer who reached heart-throb status in 2002, and her bedroom window looks out over green trees. Because of the lack of context, the audience is instructed to make their own assumptions.

This photo set fits into the rest of James Mollison’s photo essay because, even though Thais’s room looks very similar to an average American preteen girl, background information about the setting and location of the person of interest changes the perception of the image. All we really know about her is her name, her age, where she lives, and that she (presumably) looks up to a heart-throb pop singer.

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