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New Tencent Video Documentary Profiles Single Women Living Alone

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Chinese streaming platform Tencent Video launched a three-episode documentary series titled Women at Home on March 7, one day prior to International Women’s Day.

The series aims to shed light on the solo living trend in urban China, with each 20-minute episode featuring a single woman of a different age and background. Only one episode has been released so far, but the second episode will go online today, March 14, while the third will drop next Monday, the 21st.

women at home main poster

The main promotional poster for the documentary Woman at Home

The first episode tells the story of Lao Yao, a blogger born in the 1990s. Because of beauty anxiety, she had plastic surgery years ago.

“I had thought that not many men liked me because I wasn’t pretty. But after the surgery, I realized the problem was not my looks,” she said in the video, “but because I was too focused on my own world.”

women at home lao yao

Lao Yao sits on the sofa in her home

Watch the first episode on YouTube:

The next episode will revolve around Wei Lin, an insurance consultant born in the ’80s. She suffered from thyroid cancer and had surgery alone. Wei longs to be a wife and mother, but she has been unable to find an ideal partner.

women at home Wei Lin

Wei Lin sits on her bed in her pajamas

Ye Jing, the last subject, was born in the ’60s and is a retired professor from the Beijing Film Academy. She only began to live her own life after retirement and now tries things she wanted to do when she was young.

women at home Ye Jing

Ye Jing sits surrounded by her plants at home

Directed by Beijing-based photographer Amos Dai, or Dai Xianjing, Women at Home evolved from an ongoing photography project where Dai documents the intimate lives of 44 independent women who live solo across China. She made the three-part documentary in 2021.

women at home director Amos Dai

Amos Dai, on the right, shooting for Women at Home

Solo living has seen increasing popularity in a rapidly urbanizing and changing China, with more and more women deciding to enjoy living alone.

Dai tells RADII she first started the project in 2016 after she ended a two-year relationship and lost her job, both at the dawn of her 20s, after which she moved out and started to live alone.

During the healing process, Dai realized the experience let her “slowly observe herself.”

“Solo living gives me more time to do things that I want, to think, to meditate, to have more freedom and fulfillment,” she says.

women at home Amos Dai home

Amos Dai in her apartment in Beijing

She also encountered other women who chose to live alone for various reasons, and together they formed a community based on mutual empathy.

That marked the beginning of her “Women at Home” photography project that documents the intimacy, vulnerability, and resilience of women in their own homes.

“To be ourselves, be brave and confident, and not fear to fail, that’s the independent spirit we women shall have,” Dai said in an interview with Tencent News.

All images courtesy of Amos Dai

Inès Forman
    Inès Forman is a trilingual French Caribbean/Israeli who lived and taught in Beijing. She wrote and edited pieces for Black Livity China - a platform documenting Africa-China relations and the Black experience in China. She holds a Dual Master's in International Politics from Sciences Po Paris and Peking University (BeiDa). She is currently working on a novel set in Beijing and Guangzhou. She's also part of a rock/soul band (@thechouxfleur on IG).
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