Special Feature: My Room is My Room–Teen Girls’ Perspectives on Our Bedrooms
Deladem Kumahia, 16
Sadiya Gurhan, 15
Mentor: Nisreen Galloway
From early childhood to adolescence to adulthood, a girl’s room means more to her than four walls and a place to crash. It reflects the evolution of her personality. As she gets older, the fluffy pillows and the teddy bear in the corner give way to the graphic posters and the mess of schoolbooks, magazines, and clothes. A girl’s room is a place that she can reinvent and redesign to fit her ever-changing needs. She can let her personality shine through her room without worrying about judgments from the outside world. A girl’s room is a place where she can spend time aimlessly, doing nothing but being herself, or where she can feel safe to let out her feelings, to be innocent, and to be vulnerable. Her room shows her journey in growing up to become the woman she wants to be.
We spoke with teen girls about their rooms and reviewed the new book A Girl and Her Room by Rania Matar to learn more about the value teen girls place on their rooms. What did we learn? Different girls have different attitudes towards their rooms, but no matter what, girls everywhere feel some sense of importance for their room.
Showing Your Personality
Do you spend hours cruising on the internet, going through those personality quizzes to find out who you are? As teen girls we are on a never-ending search to uncover our true selves. A high school student named Amina told us, “I think girls think their room is important because it is one of the only places that allows them to fully express who they are. Girls always face the burden of judgments and stereotypes. Their room is a safe haven from all negative facets that surround them in their daily lives.”
As teenage girls, we want people to see us for who we are and for us not to be afraid of that. It’s frustrating knowing that people don’t recognize us and our achievements. In our room we are the star, the most important person who controls and organizes the room as a whole. We use our room as an outlet for all the things we want and feel.
Girls can show their personality through their rooms in many ways. If you're a loud person then you can decorate with bright colors. If you're an organized person, then your room can show that side of your personality instead. Courtney, a teen editor at Teen Voices, said, “A girl’s room is important to her because it defines who she is and what she is going through.” Jameesa, another teen editor, said, “I think that a girl’s room is important because it’s a place where she can be herself and have a sense of pride. It represents who you are.”
The Closed Door
Our rooms are the first place we can call our own and can be responsible for. Teen girls want to have independence from family, friends, and the world in order to feel that we have some control in our own lives. In an email interview, Rania Matar reflected on the importance of a girl’s room: “No one could judge me, lecture me, and pressure me to do anything. So many years later, I can relate to all of the girls in my photos on a very personal level.”
We use the independence our room gives us to try to understand the world and have privacy. When we look at our room we see the one place that is ours, that we can change and that no one else really has control over (unless you share a room with a sibling or someone else, of course!). Ayanna, a teen editor at Teen Voices, said, “A girl’s room is important to her because it’s her space and she can do whatever she wants in it.”
A girl’s room is a place where she can find peace and solace from the chaos and messiness of the outside world. We feel safe and protected in our rooms and feel that we can let our guards down. It’s our room and we can be whoever we want to be without worries. In an essay in the book A Girl In Her Room, Susan Minot says,“The room might be a refuge, an escape from family and school. With that door closed [a girl] can collect her genuine self.”
In the comfort of our rooms, we can avoid succumbing to peer pressure. In the comfort of our rooms, we can collect our thoughts. We can be who we want.
Decorating for Cheap
Decorating a room can be very challenging and costly. However, you can make it cheap and fun by following these tips!
1) Color Me Colors
Ready for a change? Instead of replacing all the furniture in your room, you can create a new look with color. Changing the color of the paint in your room adds new light to your room, while adding color with simple decorations creates an amazing contrast to add a twist to your room. Try using bright-colored paints, like yellow, to add light to your room or using contrasting colors like red and blue!
2) Flowers and Candles and Smells, Oh My!
Add different smells to your room to create an aromatic experience! Use your favorite candle scents to have a room that makes you relax. Or if you are not a big fan of candles, add flowers to a desk or bedside table to create a natural look year ’round. Scents such as vanilla, apple, or cotton add flavor, while using seasonal flowers like roses, daisies, and violets add a touch of nature.
3) Move Around
Try moving your furniture to different spots in your room. It will create different spaces in your room without having to spend tons of money on buying new furniture! For example, moving your bed towards a window and moving your dresser towards your door will create a whole new pathway through your room.
4) Cramming is a No-No
Cramming too much stuff in your room will cause it to look small, messy, and cluttered. If you do have this problem of too much clutter in your room, don’t hesitate to donate your things to charity, give to a thrift store, have a garage sale, or even throw out!
Decorating doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many ways to decorate a room by yourself by using some of your old things.
Old Magazines Become Art
Step 1: Find an old magazine that interests you.
Step 2: Glance through the magazine, and find a picture or article that you really enjoy looking at.
Step 3: Cut out the picture/magazine and hang it up on a wall or a bulletin in your room. If you have lots of magazines, you can really create a masterpiece!
Coffee Cans are Vases?!
Instead of buying an expensive crystal vase, use a coffee can as your vase!
Step 1: Find an empty coffee can, preferably colorful.
Step 2: Add a drinking glass full of water in the can.
Step 3: Add your favorite flowers for a splash of color!
Cereal Box Organizers
Don’t spend so much money on organizers! Cereal boxes are an inexpensive way to get more organized!
Step 1: Find an empty cereal box of your choice.
Step 2: Cut off the tops and bottoms of the cereal box.
Step 3: Add pencils, pens, tape, or anything else into your new organizers. This box can go into your drawers, or even on your desk!
5 TIPS for Being an Individual in a Shared Room
Not every girl has a room all her own, but there are ways to help anyone, even in a shared room, make her room unique and show her personality.
Sometimes people forget the biggest space of all. Your walls! Decorating your wall(s) is a great way to personalize your space and to show off you. You can have pictures of family and friends, posters, paintings, and calendars. Whatever you like, you can use it to add a little bang on your walls.
Organization is a big part of anyone’s room if they want to keep it clean and efficient. Keeping your room clean can save you time and money. You will have more space if you organize your room and you can have fun with different storage concepts. For example, keep your closet organized by using racks or creating a system and arranging it by color or season. Use a shoe rack to get your shoes in order and keep the clutter out of your room and your relationship.
Dividing up Space
Room dividers are great for getting things out of the way and creating a sense of privacy. There are many types of dividers you can use, from a curtain to wood partitions. You can hang them on the ceiling or use boxes and furniture to divide up the space.
A Girl and Her Room: Portraits of Teenage Girls' Inner Worlds Through Their Bedroom Interiors
by Rania Matar with contributions from Susan Minot and Anne Tucker
“As teenagers we are surrounded by judgment, responsibility, confusion, pressure, and the desire to break free from all of these stresses in society. My room is a place where I can go to escape from these burdensome feelings and just relax.”
-Arielle, Westwood, Massachusetts 2011
“My room is simple and clean; that’s how I wish my life could be. There are many things I wish I could simplify, but most are just out of my control. My room is the little piece of me that’s peaceful.”
– Ariel, Winchester, Massachusetts 2009
A Girl and Her Room by Rania Matar places girls from the United States and Lebanon in their own spotlight through the unique, personal view of their bedrooms. The girls pictured in this book are shown at their homes, being comfortable and mainly, being themselves. Although the girls live in different communities and are of different economic status, their rooms are a place where they can be free of their problems.
One notable aspect of the book was Matar picturing some girls living in refugee camps in Lebanon. Based on media perceptions, we would believe that refugee camps are places of misery and sadness. However, most of the girls have a calm, serene, peaceful look at home in their rooms.
Captions create a strong emotional effect, as the girls describe their feelings toward their room, society, love, future goals, hobbies, and family. The intimate photography and thoughtful quotes made this a story worth telling.
For More Info
TLC: Check out these teen bedroom decorating ideas, for teen with all types of tastes and interests.
Matar, Rania. A Girl and Her Room: Portraits of Teenage Girls' Inner Worlds Through Their Bedroom Interiors
Leave a Response