Since turning 18 is such a big part of a young woman’s life, the editors at The New York Times wanted to further explore what this rite of passage is like in 2018 in different cultures. They chose 22 young women from around the world to document what it’s like to be turning 18 in 2018. The project, “This is 18,” features 21 subjects and 22 photographers across 12 time zones and 15 languages, and celebrates girlhood around the world.
Rather than serving as the subject in front of the lens, the project has put the young women behind the lens to conduct the interviews and take the photos themselves. Exploring each other’s cultures by talking about the current slang they use, jobs they have, clothes they wear, music they listen to and food they eat gives insight into the differences and similarities between 18-year-old females around the globe. They also explored each other’s thoughts deeper with questions like:
“What do you want to be doing in five years?”
“I would love to run my own business and be a fashion designer.” –Victory Chukwu, Lagos, Nigeria
“I want to be studying psychology at university. I want to be moved out, I want to have my life in order.” –Millie Landewee, Melbourne, Australia
“Maybe, after graduating from God-knows-what university, I’d engage in theoretical physics or go for nuclear power engineering. I’d like to develop nuclear plant safety systems so that the Chernobyl disaster never happens again. Maybe in five years my friend and I will open a cartoon studio and I’ll take up a second job as her assistant. Everything is possible.” –Alexandra Yuryeva, Moscow, Russia.
“When did you first feel like a grown-up?”
“I first felt like a grown-up when I was pretty much halfway into my pregnancy, because I realized that everything was about to change.” –Madison Breanne Justice, Clarksdale, Mississippi
“I first felt like a grown-up when my mom let me go to the after-prom party. My mom doesn’t let me go anywhere, at all. I would never be able to go to the parties my friends invited me to in high school, but she let me go to this one. I guess it’s because she knows that I’m 18 and I’ll be going to college soon. –Maryclare Chinedo, Bronx, N.Y.
“I remember being able to walk to school on my own and I thought “WOW! I am so independent and cool.” –Ruby Jubb-Baddiel, London, U.K.
You can explore the entire interactive site at nytimes.com for more girlhood photos and stories from “This is 18.”