Your Parents as Teenagers


“In middle school, she began to have a tiny photo taken every year, and I thought that was so cool and so her, because—my goodness—my mom is a character.”

- Melody Frierson on her mom, Chong "Suki" Frierson, who knew what she wanted from a young age


Melody Frierson comes to D.C. by way of Mississippi with a story in her back pocket. She’s always been fascinated by family photos and assumed when saw tiny old photos of her mom wedged in the corner of other frames and mirrors in their house, “kind of haphazardly put there,” that they were school photos. Turns out, Melody’s mom, who grew up in Daegu, South Korea, did not have photos taken at school and decided she would get them done herself.

These three photos represent milestones in her mom’s life as she grew from a 16 year old girl in the first photo to a 27 year old woman in the last; a progression that mirrors Melody’s own as she is now a year older than her mom was in the last picture. “I recently left home—I had been living back in Mississippi in the home that was actually built by my grandfather on my dad’s side. My dad is black and we were living in this home that he built with his own hands, on this land that he had purchased at a time when black families didn’t have the opportunity to really purchase land. I remember so much that pulls me from these photos and these times and I really wanted to have a memory of her when I moved.”

Melody’s mom’s tiny photos now hang next to a portrait of her dad from the military in Melody’s new home as a reminder that she can always take a little piece of them with her wherever she goes.

“It’s so awesome to see your parents as children, as teenagers, as young adults, because it’s hard to imagine them as anything but your parents; that they had a life before you.” Wise words Melody… We couldn’t agree more.


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