Seaside Stories

V. Bensonhurst Girls

No matter what her ethnic background, a girl growing up in Bensonhurst coats the outer layer of her personality with strength, sass, and neighborhood pride. The girls of Bensonhurst exude genuine intensity in almost everything they do. If the time and place calls for dressing up, their hair and makeup will be meticulously arranged; when there is nothing particular to do, they master how to look spontaneously mussed up. Even ambivalence is emphasized with an exaggerated shrug. Such behaviors may sound contrived, but on the streets of Bensonhurst they are perfectly natural.

Tayyaba, who moved here from Pakistan with her older brother and sister, precociously explains that she feels “most at peace” near the water.

As these Bishop Kearney girls head into their limo for the prom, cooing relatives and neighbors snap hundreds of photos, stopping traffic.

Outside Diva Dance Studio—motto: “we’re so glam we sweat glitter”—these three dressed up as little “dolls” for their picture day.

Irina and Robin hold their own during a very serious water fight—girls against boys—the first one of the summer.

While Gabbie enthusiastically showed off her pink hair and tie-dye, her neighbor ran out of the house screaming for me to be kicked out of the neighborhood.

Valeria brings a retro-disco edge to the Sethlow Park, as she rollerblades in her sequin get-up with her equally snazzy pup.


Saskia Kahn

SASKIA KAHN is a photographer from the coast of Brooklyn (