The story of the scandalous picture from Life magazine in 1990: how was the life of a smoking girl

The story of the scandalous picture from Life magazine in 1990: how was the life of a smoking girl

Categories: Children | North America

In 1990, American photojournalist Mary Ellen Mark (Mary Ellen Mark) made her famous picture "Amanda and her cousin Amy", in which a 9-year-old girl from a dysfunctional family smokes, standing in the pool next to her 8-year-old relative. This expressive frame became one of the most famous works of the photographer, who, unfortunately, died in 2015 at the age of 75.

But what became of the little smoker? How does she live now, after almost 30 years?

The story of the scandalous picture from Life magazine in 1990: how was the life of a smoking girl

After the death of photographer Mary Ellen Mark on May 25, 2015 in New York, NPR journalists decided to find out about the little model. Why did she smoke, paint, and wear false nails at the tender age of nine? What does she remember about the photo shoot? And what happened to her after that sunny day in 1990?

Her name is Amanda Mary Alison, nee Minton. She lives in North Carolina, remembers perfectly how she posed for the legendary picture, and no, she never quit smoking. Even now, almost three decades later.

The story of the scandalous picture from Life magazine in 1990: how was the life of a smoking girl

Photographer Mary Ellen Mark in New York in 1987

In 1990, Mary Ellen Mark went to a rural area in North Carolina, where, on assignment for Life magazine, she was looking for images for the cover of an issue dedicated to "problem children". Amanda was just such a problem girl, she lived in a poor neighborhood that the locals called "Sin City". There were many drug addicts among its inhabitants. And it was then, at about the age of 9, that the girl started smoking.

The story of the scandalous picture from Life magazine in 1990: how was the life of a smoking girl

But Amanda's life wasn't going well. When she was 11, her parents were deprived of their parental rights, and the girl began to move from one foster family to another. By the age of 16, she had developed a severe drug addiction. Since then, she's been in and out of prison, and even though her life is more or less settled now, there's still room for idiots and drugs.

Alison admits that at the age of 9, she realized that her childhood was very problematic, and considered her participation in Mark's photo shoots not only as entertainment, but also as a possible solution to her problems. She had hoped so much that she would be noticed, that someone would notice the photos and come and rescue her. But that didn't happen.

Keywords: 90s | Smoking | Photographer

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