Jessica Chieu

Growing Pains

There are times in your life that prepare us for adulthood. As adolescents get older, we have a better grasp of reality and the environment surrounding us. This transitional period in our life is often referred to as “coming of age.” People grow up in a different social class, yet most people have a familiar idea of what wealth looks like and how it's portrayed in the media. By using pop culture cliches, this project explores the performance of affluence as part of the experience of coming of age.

The media plays a significant influence on our society, shaping its beliefs and values. From a young age, I was exposed to countless television shows and movies that depicted the idea of class. Television shows such as Hannah Montana with her fancy walk in closet, had me idealizing the idea of wealth. However, I realized that much of that was staged and constructed with ideas much like this project. Nobody really shows up to the tennis court in heels or wears heavy jewelry while riding a horse. All of these photographs are consciously staged whether its composition, setting, people, or poses. This project creates a sense of familiarity for consumers of pop culture, and explores a performative nature of affluence for those who are less familiar with it.

Overall, our perception of wealth and social status comes from influences at a young age. Growing Pains explores the aspects of class and coming of age through photography, highlighting how the media's portrayal of wealth influences our ideas about what it means to be rich or successful. By playing with these preconceived ideas, my project brings up the idea of luxury goods, standards, and desires.