There is just no way around it:  I’m not pretty in Thailand.  There is a definite standard of beauty in this country, and I just don’t meet it.

From what I have been able to tell (and from talking to people who have lived here for a few years), the standard of beauty is:

– fair skin (the lighter, the better)

– slim build

– long, straight, shiny hair

I noticed right when we got here that all of the billboards and magazines are plastered with girls who fit this definition. They have very very white skin, very shiny hair, and many of them have features that look more European than traditionally Thai.

A couple of days ago,  I saw a commercial for Ponds Pure White Foaming Cleanser.  Even though the commercial was in Thai, it was obvious that “Pure White” clearly didn’t mean that the cleanser itself is white, but that it would lead to whitening of the skin.  The white girl with dark spots coming out of her face left no room for doubt on that one.

I mentioned this to my brother, who confirmed that “beauty” in Thailand means those things listed above, with fair skin being the main factor.  He said that when we got to the mall, we’d notice that all the girls who work there have fair skin, above all else.  And he was right.  Fair skin seemed to take precedence over weight, height and symmetry.  And, as became quite evident, salesmanship.  And this phenomenon isn’t because there are more fair-skinned girls than dark-skinned girls in Thailand.  Actually, most girls probably do have darker skin, but I guess those girls don’t sell as well as the lighter-skinned girls.

So then I come on the scene, with my dark skin (which will only get darker under the hot Thai sun), my curly, unruly hair and all my lady lumps all over the place.  There probably was a time when I would have felt unpretty in a place like this, with its strict and obvious definition of what makes a woman attractive.  But at this age, I just can’t be bothered.

This is all I got.  And I don’t think it’s so unpretty.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anil Kurian on January 19, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Funny how in the west, people are trying to get tanned and in the east people are trying to be lighter. A friend who taught in Korea would say he saw more umbrella on a sunny day than you would on a rainy day. My sister just came back from India and she thought she was being insulted when people who meet her when she was 7 told her ‘Ohh..you’ve lost your colour’. Colour meaning lightness (guess white is a colour;). Then when they went to see a 4 week old newborn..she heard people say the same thing about the baby! I guess you’re right Fahrin…no matter where you go in the world…women are crazy.


  2. Posted by Mum on January 20, 2011 at 1:13 am

    Hi Fa. In my eyes you are beautiful. Dark skin, bumps, lumps, curly hair and all.


  3. Posted by Angi on January 20, 2011 at 6:00 am

    Ah pretty… smitty, nuts to that!
    Seriously, I don’t know anyone who fits the north american “pretty” definition… ok well, except my best friend who is pick thin… though she doesn’t think she’s pretty. Pretty is as pretty does… and we all know it’s not how you look it’s how you feel. Unless, it’s freezing cold outside and you feel like a hibernating slug then by all means do the work and look pretty cuz if it isn’t anywhere else… you gotta start some where! Bah!


  4. Posted by Brian on January 20, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Thai people want to be “light skinned”? They are so close to the dam equator they can’t avoid getting darker. FK, maybe you should try to sell some mud from the beach and sell it as “Michael Jackson Formula”


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