It comes does to this. I cannot shake the impression that the young women in this photograph
have been made to look like provincial rubes, on purpose.
From that starting point I am now unsure where to go, and what to make of it. But that starting point remains, for me, unshakeable.
ETA: I continue to struggle to make sense of what I see, in the light of comments! Thank you all!
What I see is beautiful but awkward young women, painfully, self-consciously, aware of both. They're putting out quite a lot of effort to look, well, like something. The makeup and hair are thoroughly finished, as are the outfits, but the overall effect is cheap and ill-done. They look like they are trying to be fashionable, but are not. The clutch purses strike me, somehow, as a desperate and therefore pathetic attempt at sophistication. I don't know if everyone follows me this far, but I feel like it's not much of a stretch?
Is there something of "stupid small town girls" in here? Or is this really just the archetype of the 19 year old woman everywhere that western culture touches?
This is where I part ways, I think. I feel that a Berliner or a New Yorker or even a Chicago girl might miss the mark, but somehow differently. They might make more sophisticated clothing choices, but I feel like whatever they did they would wear it with more... bravado, maybe.
And then, of course, I feel like this difference -- which perhaps I am imagining entirely -- is the point of the picture, the deliberate slight offered to these two kids.