Sparkle, baby explores girl culture in Australia within the phenomena of beauty pageants, particularly those directed at the young. Through documenting child pageants, I seek to understand if participating in these events increases the pressure on young girls to conform to an idealised view of what it means to be female or rather, is it a celebration of girlhood? It is not about why they compete in child pageants, but rather, who or what in society is telling them to do so?
Whilst from an outsiders perspective pageants may appear unnatural, to the girls participating, pageants are not only fantastical but also mirror the expectations and demands of society, in regards to presentation, and serve as a worthy preparation for later life. A society that believes those who are presented well, who are thinner, or more conventionally beautiful are valued more.
Through allowing me access to their ‘competitive lives’ I have been enabled by these girls to tell their story, not just as individuals, but as part of a developing culture.
Chloe Bartram (b. 1991) is currently on the Editorial Board for The Australian Photojournalist,a non-profit publication that gives voice to those who have been segregated or forgotten by society and mainstream media, and a recent graduate from the Queensland College of Art. Graduating with a Bachelor of Photography, majoring in Photojournalism. Using the conventions of social documentary and photography, Chloe endeavors to explore the idiosyncratic nature of the human condition and in particular the mind and memory. Her most recent work explored the developing culture of child beauty pageants in Australia. This work is realised in book form which can be found here.
Chloe is currently based in Brisbane, Australia and has photographed in Australia and South-East Asia.