Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thais are beauty fascists - part 1

the event that makes me so angry and bitter is the following. remember the lost teddy? it was the guy from my class that suddenly fell in love with me and became my stalker. I got word from a (girl) classmate today that apparently he was publicly (in class) bitching about my boyfriend's looks. he said something like: "ewwwwwww, he is not even handsome, he should choose someone much more handsome". that really pissed me off.

Ok, he's entitled to think that. My bf isnt 190cm tall, doesnt have wide shoulders and no manly, "handsome" face. But what the f**k? That in no way justifies someone publicly bitching about it so everyone else can hear it (I wasnt there of course).

then, my classmate (the girl) said something that wasnt less offensive, only she didnt know it. She tried to somehow explain me that thais dont think that a wide face and small eyes are beautiful. Now lets think about this again. Wonderful, she in a way justified his bitching by reciting thai beauty ideals.

Now I know all about Thai beauty ideals and I also have thought a lot about them but this now prompts me to write about them. If you want to be beautiful in Thailand you have to be tall, slim, have fair skin, have big eyes, have a slim face, have straight hair and a faultless appearance in general. If any of the above-mentioned criteria are not met you will struggle to be beautiful in a thai person's eyes. For foreigners, slightly different standards apply but nevertheless, I was told several times: "xxx you are not handsome...but you are cute". or: "xxx, when did you get fat?" I just wanna let you know, I am not fat. If I go to farangland I am pretty much in the average...

Maybe the things that are the most interesting is the shape of the face and the skin colour. In terms of shape of the face, a slim face is essential. If the face is บาน (baan, wide) that is not good at all. A square face (e.g. Thaksin Shinawatra) is not good either. Cheekbones are not very advantagous either.

no beautiful, his face is too wide and square.

In terms of skin colour, we all know that in Asia in general, the whiter the skin, the better. It's the other way around as in Europe, where a tanned, brown skin is considered attractive and sexy. Here, dark skin is associated with country-side people who have to work on the farm, hence they get dark by working outdoors all day long. The association goes: the darker, the poorer. I personally had the experience many many times that guys I met actually excused themselves for their dark skin.

Now, I want you to think about this: WHY is it that Thais, who are normally very accepting of other people's lifestyles and choices (e.g. are "tolerant") can be such fascists in terms of beauty (only one beauty ideal counts)? My boyfriend noticed that the people that feature in Thai ads are nowhere to be seen on the street. That is quite true.....and additionally, no one in ads is dark and Thai-thai (as opposed to chinese-thai) (except on these fertiliser ads during muay thai on Channel 3 maybe). I know about the connection between skin-colour and income - thai chinese are richer and whiter. But how come thais can be so extreme in this, otherwise being quite accomodating and tolerant?

Actually, fellow blogger bkkdreamer has already blogged here, here and here on the "honey-coloured" beauties and explained us a little bit about skin-colour and beauty ideals. You would notice that these "honey-coloured" beauties are by no means dark, even though it is something like a taboo in thai society to even like someone who doesnt have pale skin.

Now even though I notice that some of these beauty ideals have crept into my mind too (im too immersed in Thai culture), I really want you to stick to what you think is beautiful. Skinny, tall, chubby, wide-faced, dark, white, curly hair, blue eyes, whatever.....stick to it!!!

p.s. I promise you. I will provide you with some picture-examples of what I mean next time:)


TAO said...

I hope that when you start posting pictures you are able to go beyond "honey colored" to actual dark...

Look at the service you will be doing for all the dark skinned asians....

Anonymous said...

Not just Thais, may other Asians think the same way. And how about those Asians who whiten their skin or have operations on their eyes and noses so they can look more caucasian. How pathetic is that?
But then how many gays are body fascists spending hours in the gym 'perfecting' themselves. You can't please everyone so don't even try. - Ian

TAO said...

Yeah, my bf is chinese and while everyone in his family smears that stuff all over themselves to whiten themselves he is laying outside getting a tan.....

Joe said...

Old topic from Nov 08 but I get very angry when people using a nonexisting word called 'Thai-Thais'. There are no 'Thai-Thais'. Thai people are a mix of Mon-Khmer, Malay, Tai (please search for 'Tai people' in wikipedia) and Chinese people so there are no 'pure Thai' but many Thais claim the Tai as their roots. Pure Tai are lightskinned people who migrated only 700 years ago from China to the todays area of Laos, Thailand and Shan State of Myanmar. Still there are Tais living in todays China. The biggest minority in China called 'Zhuang' are for example Tais.

@ anonymous
Did you ever get out of your home? Tall noses are not unusual for Northeast Asians. Some Se Asians do have one, too. It is not impossible. Plus white skin is not only typical for Caucasians. Just take a look at Siberians, Japanese or Koreans. Big eyes are naturally for people in Se Asia and southern parts of China.

All in all I hate those White folk claiming Asians want to look Caucasian. Slanty eyes, flat nose and yellowish-dark skin are just some traits an Asian person is able to have.



BB said...

Joe, thanks for your valuable comment. You are indeed right. It's very silly. I am aware of the background of the Thai people. Most have some Chinese blood anyway, some are Khmer and then we havent even talked about the tribes.

We always try to generalise, for the sake of ease. Most of the time this is wrong of course...

But thais use it themselves, you know. They would say: "I am fully Thai". Or: "I am part-Chinese".

You can not deny the point with the beauty ideal though. It's staggering. If someone does have a wide or square, they CAN NOT be called handsome or beautiful.

A country guy CAN be called handsome but he will be "lor baan baan", he can not be "lor". Secretly many Bangkokians find dark skin and the country-side attractive, I heard!

The white skin. I looked at magazines in 7/11 the other day and the Thai cover girls are so washed-out white it's not even funny! It's an impossible colour to achieve. In real life, these girls are never that white.

Next to them was Sarah Jessica Parker, who looked healthily tanned. There you go!

Thanks for reading up on my blog, I hope you like the rest too!