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“Girlhood (It’s Complicated)”: The Exhibition Analysis

The exhibition “Girlhood (It’s Complicated)” displayed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History unveils various facets of women’s contribution to the development of American society. Political, social, economic empowerment of females is traced by looking into girl’s everyday life, their struggle for their rights, health, relationships, and even fashion. The exhibition shows that seemingly unmeaningful details have played an important role and should receive proper attention.

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Political aspects and women’s fight for equality and rights seem central to the exhibitions. Various photos of suffragists and marches are quite expected items for such a topic. These photos make the contribution of all groups of women visible. For instance, the pictures of women of color are specifically valuable as people often forget about this population’s particular input when considering political rights. The discussion of Native females during week 3 received strong support as the picture of empowered and bold women is quite inspiring. At that, one of the most remarkable pieces is still Naomi Wadler’s Scarf (“News and Politics” par. 8). This piece shows the rich context of girls’ daily struggle and their unprecedented involvement in social life. Females’ support of each other and readiness to help are the lessons to be learned when looking at the scarf. The scarf has become a symbol of inspiration, youth involvement, and older women’s support of their daughters’ struggle. All brave females standing for their rights have mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and friends who helped them on their way to better lives.

Fashion is quite a natural topic for the discussion of womanhood, but this area is displayed from the perspective of women’s struggle. It is quite disturbing to see all those little things shaping girls’ worldview making them a part of the patriarchal world. All those creams making the skin lighter or corsets making girls look like dolls are items suppressing women. Fashion has influenced the ways females saw themselves and wanted others to see them. In the twentieth century, women started using fashion as a platform to reshape their world and the world at large.

An important area that is often silenced is associated with women’s health. Coming of age and reproduction are even now topics that evoke debates in American society. Many of these topics were tabooed at certain periods of the twentieth century. Week 9 discussions are perfectly illustrated by the items related to health (such as pills or pictures of females trying to voice their needs). Now it seems natural that girls need to know everything about their bodies and have an opportunity to develop in a healthy way. This opportunity was almost unattainable for the majority of girls who lived in the first part of the twentieth century (or earlier). The arguments of those who tried to control population growth by sterilization and making cruel experiments that involved women of color are inadequate, but some are still used in the modern media. The items exhibiting these issues are specifically relevant these days as they will enable people to avoid mistakes and crimes.

In conclusion, the exhibition in question provides a detailed account of the struggle of women of America for their rights, as well as the fight for a better world. Females of all ages have contributed greatly to the development and empowerment of the United States. These courageous and beautiful in all respects women have played important roles in the creation of the nation, although the struggle is not over.

Work Cited

News and Politics. National Museum of American History, n. d., Web.

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