Sissie Chang

Don’t Throw Away Your Daughters

My grandmother just celebrated her 98th birthday. She’s lived with my two aunts for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I don’t recall having any long, meaningful talks with my grandfather. One of the few things I do remember is a statement I overheard him telling my mother when I was a little girl: “Why are you spending so much money on her education? She’s only going to run off to get married when she turns eighteen.” I was told that sons were prized because they carry on the family name. Daughters… Well, they’re just “guests.” It’s how traditions are, and I understood not to ask certain questions.

My grandparents had three daughters, and like the most traditional Chinese families, they continued having children until sons were born. As my grandfather’s health declined, his second and third daughters—both retired, unwed, and living under the same roof—were his primary caregivers. These same two daughters continue to take care of my grandmother today.

Meanwhile, a few time zones away, I’m suddenly living back at home, taking care of my own mother as she undergoes cancer treatment. It’s funny, none of us have run off yet. We’re still here.

As the years passed, I watched the prized sons of the family become more and more distant, and I couldn’t help but start to question that notion about daughters being unimportant.  

I guess my grandfather was wrong. Don’t throw away your daughters.

Short Bio

Sissie Chang is a documentary photographer based out of Orange County, California. At one time, she was a firm believer that the most intriguing stories, and those with the best backdrops, required a passport. She eventually discovered that the most engaging human stories are actually the ones you see on a daily basis.

Her first self-published book, Don’t throw away your daughters, is slated for release Spring 2020.

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