the documentary very young girls is groundbreaking. the film depicts a program called gems in new york that supports girls, as young as 13, who serve as commercial sex workers. often involved in the sex trade, these girls have little agency over their lives and are stuck suffering from a twisted love affair with their pimps (men and women) that left me emotionally exhausted. “the life,” as they call it, is not for the faint at heart, and just when you think you know what it’s like to trade sex for money, another layer is added, making their stories complex glimpses of the best and worst parts of humanity.
photographer alicia garcia captured a similar story about a creative young woman named eden who, initially working as a stripper, was influenced by an older friend to become a prostitute. the friend eventually became her pimp. eden’s photo essay is jarring and her story of childhood abuse and victimization is a painfully common narrative. check out alicia’s work, including a photo essay about exotic dancers titled stripped.