Smithsonian's ‘Girlhood' Exhibit Explores Complexities of Growing Up in America

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National Museum of American History
This mural welcomes visitors into the exhibition.
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National Museum of American History
Dominique Dawes wore this leotard at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, where she was a member of the "Magnificent Seven" team that took home the gold.
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National Museum of American History
Dominique Dawes wore this leotard at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, GA, where she was a member of the “Magnificent Seven” team that took home the gold.
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National Museum of American History
Artwork by Krystal Quiles for the National Museum of American History.
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National Museum of American History
Minnijean Brown was one of the “Little Rock Nine” who desegregated Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. After just a year, the school was shut down, and Brown had to move to New York to complete her education. She wore this dress to celebrate her high school graduation in 1959.
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National Museum of American History
Dress codes enforce specific expectations of girlhood by telling girls what to wear. Some girls’ bodies are treated as more trouble than others, and dress codes are especially policed for girls of color and working-class girls.
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National Museum of American History
The loose fit of this outfit, made in the 1850s, allowed girls to play sports.
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National Museum of American History
Artwork by Krystal Quiles for the National Museum of American History
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