Chengdu

linda r yao

Linda R Yao is an artist from the Bay Area and currently based in Shanghai where she pursues her interests in art and business. During her time in one of the most homogenous countries, China, Linda sets out to use different mediums to document and question the current Chinese beauty standards and social norms. She has created a series of film images hoping to capture the raw beauty of the human body and the beautiful things we often overlook.

 

How did the idea for the series come about?

 

Chengdu is where I was born and a place close to my heart. When people visit China, I often recommend them to visit my hometown because it reflects what a Chinese city looked like before the globalization with the beautiful mountains and vintage structures filled with people who enjoy life and are happy to show you the local culture. I have returned this time around to show others how beautiful my home is by integrating the human body with the local scenes.

 

Can we photograph the female body differently in a more powerful way?

 

I think it is important for us to view our bodies as they are. In my opinion, the body is the vehicle for our brain and our mind to help move society forward. It is a cluster of matter that we have been blessed with from the very start. So then why don’t we view and capture it in its original state. We should aim to capture the raw beauty of our bodies rather than what society wants it to look like by manipulating and objectifying it.

 

What inspires you?

 

My surroundings and the people I meet.

 

How would you define beauty?

 

People often ask me why I only take pictures of beautiful people. And the irony is that these people are truly beautiful but in China many of them aren’t aligned with the beauty standard. Coming from a traditional Chinese family that wanted me to alter my body, I have learned through observations that it is impossible to define beauty. In China, society has pushed for skinny physique with double eyelids while in America many love curves and fuller lips. When beauty is completely subjective based on culture and history while manipulated by the media, how can any of our bodies ever reach perfection? That is why I have set out to capture our bodies in its rawest form when the beauty comes naturally.

 

Film or digital?

 

Film.

 

What makes you happy and what’s next for you?

 

I love exploring and there is a lot more of the world that I haven’t seen yet. So I guess more adventures to come!

photography: linda r yao

model: ria ma