In 2017, I met Sam Soon to participate in her Sad & Asian photography project. She asked me how I would like to be seen. I replied “I don’t know but I want to become more comfortable taking up space in the world.”
Sam has continued to take my picture and in each session, I take up space to show my journey of self-growth.
New York University
As someone who struggles with body dysmorphia and the overwhelming desire to hide myself from the world, it’s very intimidating and vulnerable to have my portrait taken. However, photography has become a form of social connection for me. Beyond the act of making art, I’m reaching out and attempting to connect, explore, and engage with the photographer as much as myself.
I didn’t think I deserved to take up space anywhere, including in photos. Now, I’ve realized that my presence and voice matters. My favorite pictures of myself are the ones where you get a glimpse into my journey toward self-confidence. My demeanor is still very shy and reserved but I’ve grown to be much more open to embracing myself, new people, and my Asian American identity.
Washington Square Park & Hudson Piers
I’m realizing how and why I want to take up space. I don’t want to take up more space and extend myself beyond my quiet way of being. I want to carve out my own space and to feel at home with my quietude so I may welcome others into the comfort of silence.
I’m carving out my own space. A space where I want to cultivate connection, warmth, and peace in moments of shared silence with another person.
Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
I grow. I grow from the roots of my Chinese ancestry. I grow into a budding flower, so small and delicate. I’m blossoming ever so slowly. I grow in the hopes of reaching the stars, those balls of light and gas - the person I want to be. I’m growing.
I adorn myself to visually share my journey in an environment dedicated to growth and blossoming.
The shirt is from mukzin, a Chinese clothing brand, inspired by how traditional Chinese art can be reinterpreted within the dimension of modern fashion. I’ve been planted in New York City and grow in the chaotic city but I wish to call back and thank my ancestors across the sea in China.
The temporary tattoos are designed by my favorite tattoo artist, Jess Chen. Her beautiful art in tattooing always have a sense of delicate movement to them that I long to instill in how I navigate through life.
I acknowledge that the goal of becoming the idealized version of myself is a feat. And perhaps an impossible task to achieve because the vision of who I want to be can be ever-changing. I look up at the stars and hope I’m in the right direction though. Stars are always out of reach but still, they’re my dim lights of comfort and guidance in the sky.