“Purity Ball” Photos Document Virginity Pacts Between Fathers and Daughters
“When I first heard about the Purity Balls I imagined American fathers terrified of anything that might hurt their daughters or their families honor. But as I learnt more, I understood that the fathers, like all parents, simply wanted to protect the ones that they love – in the best way they know how. It was also often the girls themselves that had taken the initiative to attend the balls. They had made their decisions out of their own conviction and faith, in many cases with fathers who didn’t know what a Purity Ball was before first being invited by their daughters.
The more I learned, the more I was surprised that I had been so quick to judge people I knew so little about. I was struck by the idea that what set us apart wasn’t anything more than how we had been influenced by the culture we grew up in and the values it had instilled in us. In Purity I wanted to create portraits so beautiful that the girls and their fathers could be proud of the pictures in the same way they are proud of their decisions – while someone from a different background might see an entirely different story in the very same photographs.
To me, Purity is about how we are shaped by the society in which we grow up and how we interpret the world through the values we incorporate as our own.”
Purity means staying a pure woman, not trying to incorporate
the same rights as boys. I’m a woman and I have different
responsibilities in raising a family and teaching my children
who God is. It’s important to me to live a godly and pure life,
so that when I grow up, I can have children that respect me
and know how they are supposed to live.
The vows are not the most important thing to me at the
Purity Ball. Sometimes my dad doesn’t even sign them if he
doesn’t agree with everything they say. But I really do enjoy
laying the rose down at the cross, giving my beauty to God.
The rose is so beautiful, and I’m just giving it to Him saying:
“Use me”. I just want to give my beauty to God and let Him do
whatever He wants to with me.
I would really love to be a professional ballet dancer in the
future, but if God wants me to go down a different path that’s
fine too. My mom had planned to be a doctor, but then she
got married and had my older sister and gave it up to focus on
our family. Whatever God has planned for my life, I’m good
To me purity is a full spectrum. For the purity of my family,
boys and girls, it means preserving the way that they were created
to be, not letting anybody corrupt them in any manner.
Decades ago, if a woman wanted to be an engineer, or
a president of a company, it was frowned upon and she was
asked to conform to be something else, and I think that was
a distortion of her purity. She wasn’t able to become who she
was meant to be and use all her talents, and I don’t want that to
happen to any of my nine children.
I would rather call the Purity Ball a father-daughter ball
because it seems that according to our mainstream society the
purity aspect is instantly associated with the girl’s sexuality.
And while that is an important part of their femininity and
who they are, it just isn’t everything.
I often talk about that there is a love that everybody has and
that you just need to expose their talents. Purity is a way to let
my children flourish in the way that they were meant to be,
not getting them to conform to somebody else’s image.
Swedish, b. 1983, based in Stockholm, Sweden