At Twelve

"These girls still exist in an innocent world in which a pose is only a pose—what adults make of that pose may be the issue," writes Anne Beattie in the introduction for Twelve by Sally Mann. The young women, or perhaps even more properly labeled girls in Mann's photographs are in a period of transition and change. Captured in black and white the photographs depict the timelessness of that journey and the inevitable pain and struggle--a transition every woman must go through (wish I could inject female-centric Werewolf Bat Mitzavah song here for some much needed levity: "girls becoming women, women becoming wolves"). Some of the images do seem almost provocative, but again they are viewed with more worldly eyes than the subject has and photographed with that reaction in mind. It is those contradicting terms that haunt us. It also reminds me of varying dress codes from school districts who have on occassion stated that a six year olds skirt might be too short and a distraction to her fellow students--because kindergarteners have those kinds of thoughts?!