In “Meet Kirsten” and “Kirsten Learns a Lesson,” the idea of Reid-Walsh’s “Girlhood” is represented by female friendships and the role of a girl within a household within a patriarchal society, while in the new Indie film “Skate Kitchen,” “girlhood” is represented by female friendships seeking to withstand and thrive within a male-dominated atmosphere.

“Girlhood” in the Keyword essay we read for class is defined by the state of being a girl, the time of life during which one is a girl, and girls collectively. Emphasis is placed on the subordinate role girls are expected to fill as they are younger and of an oppressed gender. Discussion in the essay surrounds the possibility of variance in the girlhood experience, and emphasizes the role toys play in teaching girls lessons. In the reading and in class we discussed what experience transitions an individual from girlhood to womanhood: age? experience? education? sexual activity? Girlhood is also described as evolving and changing over time dependent on societal norms and expectations. The concept of girlhood and its evolution (or lack of) can be explored further and compared and contrasted through using the two American Girl doll books “Meet Kristen” and “Kristen Learns a Lesson” as well as the 2018 Indie movie “Skate Kitchen.”

Kristen is a young Swedish girl whose family has immigrated to the United States. in 1854. She cherishes her toy doll and her best friend, Marta. Kristen struggles with her identity and place in this new community, and deals with language and cultural barriers as she begins school. Camille is an introverted teen girl searching for a place to belong on the East Coast. She finds a new friend group, a Insta-famous skate boarding girl group who works to prove themselves and their legitimacy as skaters in the male-dominated New York skate scene. Camille struggles with navigating her friendships and learning about how to appropriately approach the differences between the girls living life in the city versus her small-town past. In Kristen book, Kristen loses her best friend to illness, while in the movie, Camille loses her best friends to drugs and conflict over romantic relationships. Both girls find their time alone extremely difficult and inescapably lonesome. Kristen’s toy is a doll, a popular symbol of femininity and girlhood, while Camille’s toy is a skateboard, a popular symbol of a “tomboy” and centered in a male-dominated athletic field. Both girls use their toys to express and act out their own struggles and experiences.

I found the similarities between Kirsten and Camille very interesting, despite their extreme differences in time, place, culture, and community. Both girls have a prescribed role they are intended to play, and while Kristen follows it, Camille works to deviate from it explicitly to prove her talent. Both uniquely define girlhood and the time of adolescents in which one is considered a girl, despite their stark differences in experience dependent on time period and place in society.

1 thought on “Girlhood”

  1. Grace-
    Interesting comparison of immigration. I like how you do not limit the idea of immigration to strictly geological. This could absolutely be applied to a shift in culture, or even smaller, friend groups. I think both Kristin and Camille share the hardships of girlhood in similar ways despite their immigration stories being very different. It’s comforting to see the struggles of girlhood being shared worldwide as it presents unity in struggles that may usually go undiscussed.

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