High school: four years that are supposed to be some of the best of our lives. But these days, this isn’t always the case. As students, we’re so concerned about our public perception—it’s all about how many likes our recent post received, what we scored on a test, and what our future holds. Because of this, we seem to almost build false personas for our “school selves” to fit in. This very phenomena is where stereotypes come from: the mean girl, her minions, the jock, the mathlete, the stoner girl, and the artistic loner.
These roles are ubiquitous to the high school experience. Anyone who has been to high school will tell you at least one person who fits each stereotype and describe them. What they don’t know is that each of these people has a side to them they never saw: the part of them that hides behind the façade of their role and operates behind closed doors. It’s the part they do everything to hide—because if it got out, they wouldn’t be able to maintain their reputation.
This photo essay juxtaposes the masks people put on when facing the world with the reality of what’s behind them. We do this by creating a narrative behind each character, challenging their stereotype.
Pride: The hyper-masculine jock, dating the popular mean girl as everyone expects, is actually in love with the mathlete—but he is too proud to risk breaking away from masculine expectations by admitting his true sexuality.
Lust: The mathlete, despite the social implications, lusts after the jock—even though the jock ridicules people of the mathlete's social strata.
Wrath, greed, gluttony: The mean girl who looks so polished and in control? To keep from being held accountable for her wrath, she paints her face every morning and fakes her way through school with her two fake friends to keep everyone in awe of her. Her crew is comprised of two "friends": one is greedy for money because of her family’s financial status; the other, the glutton, wants to look more and more like the queen bee–her body and her mind.
Envy: Always envious of the popular mean girls is the art girl. She loves her art, but nobody else does. Her loneliness makes her want to be like the popular kids, always with friends and always smiling.
Sloth: The sloth—the outcast stoner—simply exists, never doing anything. She’s peaked in high school and doesn’t know where she’s going next.
Despite the fact that no one sees it, each of these individuals has their inner demons, the sins that they personify. In reality, the roles may not be as a clear-cut as this photo series suggests. But despite the hyperbolic nature of these photos, they still represent the universal truth that everybody has something to hide and no one is what they present to the world.
By attributing sin to human archetypes, this photoset provokes thought about what’s behind the façades present in everyday life. The raw colors and candidness strip away any superficiality, making the photos like stills from a security camera. With these photos, I am striving to inspire readers to think about the ways in which we assess other people and create our own roles for them to fill—and the ways in which these roles aren't always correct.