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The Little Explorer


Recently I found myself recollecting a faded childhood memory. Sometimes it's hard to separate memory and fiction, especially if you were an imaginative child given to hours of staring out of windows daydreaming. Still, I believe this one was real: a family walk down a dusty, country road. We were just out exploring on a bright summer day and we stumbled across an abandoned home. My sisters, mother, and myself all trooped inside the house out of curiosity. We found animal bones and after leaving there was a large snake in our path that we had to skirt around. Details taken out of context could make this a disturbing memory, but I just remember really enjoying that. I was out--adventuring and exploring, but I still had my safety net of my family with me. I'd love to do more exploring and observing, but it's harder now with less people having the time or inclination to wander with me...

Anyway, all of this popped into my head when I saw this editorial photographed by Gemma Booth for Jalouse March 2013. She looks so ready for adventure. Some might interpret the child-like styling with the bows in her hair and knee socks as infantilizing a grown woman, but I see it instead as an attempt to recapture that child-like enthusiasm for the world. When you were little the world was big and limitless, but it wasn't always in a frightening way--you wanted to look at ants through a magnifying glass and write stories about why they lived in communities underground. You found animal bones and it wasn't some traumatizing encounter with death, but the potential to be an archaeologist or paleontologist discovering some previously unknown genus of dinosaur. Further, while the model is styled almost who you might expect a "Dora the Explorer" fan to dress, it isn't for the purpose of male fantasy. She's dressed young, yes, but as an explorer and photographed with different curiosities that she finds interesting. She's active with matches and bugles, exploring her interests as much as voguing for the camera--her interests are as much the subject as her appearance. In the end: is it really so wrong for a young adult to want to reclaim some of that sense of adventure and dress appropriately?