The statistics are bleak. Although the population of Ohio has increased by just over one percent in recent years, the number of people living in poverty has risen by more than forty percent. Furthermore, seventeen million American women are living in poverty and nearly forty percent of female headed-households are living below the line. But, behind the numbers are the stories of millions of women, struggling to escape poverty and make decent lives for themselves and their families.
Growing up in poverty is difficult for anybody, but the young women I have photographed face different obstacles than those of young men. While women throughout America have more power and liberty than in the past, poor women have not progressed as much as the middle class and wealthy.
Poverty is persistent, and there is no simple solution. People succeed economically when they save and invest, but looking beyond tomorrow is a luxury when one finds it difficult to live for today. Generational behavior patterns have a tendency to repeat themselves, and impoverished communities can be insular, leading young women to feel both trapped and protected by the enclaves that bore them.
Many young women living in below the line struggle with unplanned pregnancy, lack of adequate health care, emotional instability, financial insecurity and fewer educational opportunities than their middle class peers. Teenage mothers are more likely to drop out of school, harming their chances of future employment. Children raised by young single mothers are far less likely to achieve economic success.
This project explores the lives of young women living in rural Ohio and growing up in the cycle of generational poverty.