Photographing the “Beautiful Awkwardness” of Girlhood

Rania Matar, Marguerita 10, Naccache, Lebanon, 2011. Courtesy of the artist, Robert Klein Gallery, Boston, and Galerie Tanit, Beirut. (Left)
Rania Matar, Marguerita at 14, Naccache, Lebanon, 2015. Courtesy of the artist, Robert Klein Gallery, Boston, and Galerie Tanit, Beirut. (Right)

Photographer Rania Matar’s youngest daughter, Maya, was 12 years old when she noticed the first signs of the girl’s inevitable transformation from child to woman. “She was a late bloomer, and it was that point when her body had just started changing—and her whole attitude was changing with it,” Matar told me over the phone from her home in Brookline, Massachusetts. “I found that so beautiful, in a way…beautifully awkward

At the time, Matar had just finished a project documenting teenage girls in their bedrooms—environments that revealed each young subject’s personality, desires, and dreams. She had wondered what form her next series would take. As she looked at Maya, she found it.