GIRL WRESTLE is a visual exploration of girls’ youth wrestling in the American South, wherein scenes captured during club practices and team tournaments are combined with portraits to create a holistic view of distinct individuals united by their love of the sport.
Wrestling is often regarded as one of the oldest sports in the world. And while tales of female wrestlers can be found in some ancient Western mythologies, women’s wrestling has only taken place in an official capacity for the past 30 years. In that time, the number of women and girls competing has grown significantly, to the point that women’s wrestling has been introduced to the Olympic games, colleges are increasingly adding women’s wrestling programs, and states across the U.S. are sanctioning girls’ wrestling at the high school level.
This project not only highlights the growing popularity of the sport among women and girls, but also presents the nuanced experience of being a young girl: simultaneously innocent and tough, self-assured and uncertain. The wrestlers depicted in these images are making space for themselves—both physically and figuratively—in the face of a historical and cultural expectation of smallness and silence. With GIRL WRESTLE, I investigate questions of embodiment, identity, and power—and how larger social structures condition girls to be and behave.