These Photos Offer An Intimate Look At Being A Young Woman In China (NSFW)

Photographed by Luo Yang.
Photographer Luo Yang was born and raised in Liaoning, a coastal province in northeast China. She had what she describes as a fairly traditional upbringing in a modern Chinese household and as a result, always felt she was trying to strike a balance between her inner self – the Luo she was exploring how to be – and the influences and expectations of the outside world. "It was a real time of learning to grow in struggles," she remembers. 
 
As she grew older, she found an outlet for some of that frustration in photography, and started to take pictures of herself and other girls just like her. That was in 2008, and she thinks that a big part of her was definitely processing her own teenage feelings through the girls she was photographing at the time. "I had been wanting to make a raw and authentic record of my own adolescence," she explains, "and human emotions are all connected, so I see myself in all of the girls in these photographs." That tenderness of shared experience radiates from Yang’s work, helped along by her sensitive, open visual style and the fact that all the girls are captured in their natural habitats and private spaces.
 
Yang began her creative journey by focusing her lens on women born mostly in the 1980s. Now in her mid 30s and working between Shanghai and Beijing, she’s been making pictures of women for well over a decade, collecting them into different projects, including the long-term ongoing series GIRLS and her latest, Youth, which focuses more on people born in the '90s and '00s. GIRLS in particular, she says, takes on the mammoth task of "recording the lives and changes" – both subtle and significant – "of a whole generation."
 
Here, she shares some of her standout images from across the years and shows us what it’s like to grow up as a girl in modern China. 

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