Through the Eyes of a Girl: Photographs from Las Fotos Project

By Meghana Kulkarni

November 16, 2016

Too often we see girls as muses and subjects of art rather than as artists. As a result, girls’ representation in the media is often inauthentic and reinforces harmful gender roles. By putting young women behind the camera, Las Fotos Project is challenging this norm while simultaneously building girls’ confidence and self-esteem.

Founded in 2010 by Eric V. Ibarra, Las Fotos Project provides year-round arts mentoring for girls and young women to build skills such as critical thinking, visual communication, and media literacy through a series of personal development activities.

In honor of International Day of the Girl on October 11, Together for Girls teamed up with Las Fotos Project to spotlight the stories of girls affected by violence. Girls from Tijuana, Mexico, and Los Angeles, California, answered our call for photography submissions on the topic of sexual violence and healing. Below you will find six photographs as well as descriptions expressing a girl’s unique perspective and experience.

“War” by Jhanely Escobar

War by Jhanely Escobar - Through the Eyes of a Girl: Photographs from Las Fotos Project

A war caused by pain from the person who you thought would never hurt you. Drained me of my identity and inject my self doubt. Questioning my own sanity while you claim yours. Never has my heart felt so together and so broken at the same time. But this is my love for you.

Jhanely is 17 years old and is from Los Angeles, CA.

Untitled by Alma Miranda

This photo represents the violence that some women suffer every single day. As a young woman, I believe we have the right to take care and control of our own bodies. I stand with women and support healthy relationships, which starts with your own body and your own being.

Alma Naceline Dono-Miranda, born in El Salvador on March 14, 1998 came to the U.S at the age of 15. She is currently a senior at Alliance Ted K. Tajima High School in Los Angeles, CA. She has been part of Las Fotos Project Exchange for over 1 year and a half. She enjoys helping people and being sociable.

Untitled by Alma Miranda - Through the Eyes of a Girl: Photographs from Las Fotos Project

“I said, ‘No’” by Daisy Ramos

I said No by Daisy Ramos - Through the Eyes of a Girl: Photographs from Las Fotos Project

Every day, rape victims are being blamed for their choice of outfit. They are asked whether they were being provocative, if they were intoxicated, and a myriad of other questions. But the blame is always at question when it shouldn’t be.

Many women don’t get to express themselves freely through their outfits for fear of attracting any rapists or predators. It isn’t just and it isn’t right for women to be viewed as objects tasked with pleasing men. Women have the right to their bodies and are entitled to do whatever they desire with it. Not for any one else, unless they choose to do so.

Daisy is 17 years old and a senior in high school. She is a musician and has a love for photography and self-expression. She’s looking forward to starting college and pursuing photography at a more professional level along with studying economics and English literature.

“You Can’t Change Me” by Stephanie Renteria

This image shows two men forcing a gay man to touch a woman to become straight. Being gay isn’t a disease or a mental illness. There’s no “cure” for homosexuality. Some people might say there are therapies or counseling, but there is nothing to cure. It’s who you are and who you identify as. No one can convince someone to become gay or straight – It’s who they are. We are forced to become someone we are not. People don’t understand that it’s who we are and we can’t change that. No one can change us.

Stephanie is from Los Angeles, CA and was influenced to create this piece because of her own experience as a bisexual girl.

You Can’t Change Me by Stephanie Renteria - Through the Eyes of a Girl: Photographs from Las Fotos Project

Untitled by Vanessa Clavel

Untitled by Vanessa Clavel - Through the Eyes of a Girl: Photographs from Las Fotos Project

She’s a prisoner in her own body.
She lies awake at night scared and feels hope less.
She’s been told to stay quite so she remains silent.
Begin sexually abused leaves her confused and feeling miss used

Vanessa Clavel is someone who believes photography can tell a story. She likes to express herself through music, photography, or simply talking to someone and providing my perspective in an authentic way. Taking this picture tells a story that made me realize there are many situations that are not spoken about due to fear of confrontation or other psychological issues that people may have.

#IHavetheRightTo #TengoDerechoA

We are complete and independent individuals who seek to be free. We are entitled to recover the freedom that we have been deprived of every time someone disrespects us as we walk down the street, regardless of our clothing, the place or time of day.

That same freedom that has been taken away has led them to abuse us: verbally, physically and sexually; taking a piece of our lives, believing that they are our owners. They have also taken our security every time we say no; they think that we are being difficult and that sooner or later we will give in.

It is the same freedom that has been taken from us by imposing increasingly absurd standards of beauty and demanding that we meet them, making us believe that the body we have is not correct and therefore we feel ashamed to show it, displaying labels of femininity in front of us without even asking ourselves if we want to use them.

IHavetheRightTo TengoDerechoA - Through the Eyes of a Girl: Photographs from Las Fotos Project

Even being free becomes a controlled freedom, because we are taught from childhood, there are things a woman cannot do. They demand that we embody the perfect image to be in front of a family, because supposedly only in this we will find our eternal happiness. And that is what we always believe as we grow, that we are lacking something: intelligence, beauty, dignity, when really all that is needed is for us to be taken seriously, respected within our family, school and society.

We are proud to be women, and we are the result of all those that have come and fought before us: Those women who demonstrated that we are strong and brave, led a family without forgetting to run their lives. We are the product of all that strength and energy. They have wanted to hide us, but we are light, and we should not forget that. We are here to be ourselves, to love ourselves as we are, regardless of our figure, sexual, political or religious orientation.

There is still much to do, many rise up with us from six feet below the ground, many are still hidden, and for them we must continue fighting, for us and for those who have yet to come, but will add their love and courage to our side.

The above statement was written by a collective of girls participating in the Las Fotos Project mentorship program. #IHaveTheRightTo is a social media campaign that engages participants to bring attention to issues of respect and safety for girls all over the world.