Asian American Teen Project (working title)
I’m Asian American. I also have four teenage nieces who are Asian American. While I’m much older than them, I remember feeling insecure about my looks when I was their age. It's hard for young girls to be comfortable with their looks in the first place but it’s even more challenging for Asian American girls when there is both a scarcity of as well as a proliferation of unflattering stereotypes of Asian females represented in Western media (and art). This is an important time in girls' lives because they are developing their own identity and sense of self worth.
This series consists of portraits of Asian American girls between the ages of thirteen and nineteen. I’ve asked these teens to choose their own clothes, shoes, accessories, hairstyle and makeup and we decide upon a location together. Other than asking them not to smile, I do not pose or direct the girls. They decide how they want to stand or sit and what to do with their body. Essentially, I have asked the girls to collaborate with me in determining how they want to appear in front of the camera.
The project arose from my frustration with the status quo in Western media and is intended to present a more authentic portrayal today’s Asian American female youth. Looking at the photographs, it’s nearly impossible to tell who is an academic achiever, an aspiring model, a failing student, or a gifted musician. Each teen is unique and can’t be easily typecast. But they also share commonalities with their peers who aren’t Asian. In as sense, they are both typical as well as unique American teenagers.