Israeli Girls

about Dafy Hagai

If you think Israel is nothing but the horror stories from the Gaza Strip and stereotypes of Middle Eastern women conveyed by the press and media, this is a chance to find out that it’s not all as we saw it. Dafy Hagai gives us the opportunity to know a much closer reality through her photography, as in the case of her book-project Israeli Girls which captures a gang of youths from her hometown, poised on the cusp of adulthood in an Americana-teen tinged summer dream, transported to the dusty streets of Tel Aviv. But behind the cheeky smiles and nostalgia-inducing snaps, essentially, Dafy, who is often surprised to hear that people expect these girls to be covered up and conservative, is championing a generation of females exploring their sexuality, body ownership and the beauty of girl power amongst an uncertain political and social climate.

“It actually started out as a zine, in which I tried to show suburban Israeli youth culture. I live in Israel, and grew up as an Israeli girl in a small suburban town outside Tel Aviv, and this is pretty much the way my childhood looked. I thought most people don’t really have an image of how youth culture looks like in a place like Israel, and especially when you think about girls and sexuality, so I wanted to show that. These girls are young, teenage, suburban and cool.



“It’s more of a cultural statement than a political one. For the most part, Tel Aviv and the center of Israel aren’t conservative or religious, so these are just girls dealing with growing up, learning about their body, ownership and sexuality. These girls aren’t that different from girls growing up in Jersey, but it’s funny that people are surprised to see Israeli girls the way I shot them, as if they were supposed to be more modest or religious!

It’s super important for female photographers to self-publish so they can share their ideas and aesthetic perceptions. The female gaze is starting to become more of an interesting subject than ever before, and by self-publishing you’re no longer dependant on other people to promote your work. Doing whatever I think is right for me without making compromises that are gender related. Collaborating with other girls so we can create communities and platforms where we can promote and support each other.




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