ads and products in Thailand
Since most Thai ladies are very petite and weight gain is not something they struggle with (albeit that's changing), the beauty industry and its consumers focus on skin tone. The lighter you are the better, according to billboards, TV commercials, magazines, soap operas, etc.. And this standard placed on the ladies, of course, is largely unattainable when you consider 95% or more are off-white, tan, dark or even darker. If you happen to be really dark and obese, oh my! But men now feel the pressure! See some of the products (above) in a typical supermarket or Walgreens-type store. This phenomenon is not unique to Thailand, by the way. When you travel like I do or if you have an interest in reading on this subject, you will discover this obsession in most parts of Asia, in Central and South America, the Middle East and, shockingly, even Africa. For the cosmetic and beauty supply manufacturers, this is highly profitable, of course.
Throughout my travels in Asia, I have been told my skin is pretty. Beautiful even. Usually this will happen when I am in setting like getting a body massage. The massage therapist is most often a darker-skinned Thai from the Northeastern part of the country (Isaan), where the climate is very hot and farming is the primary occupation. Naturally, people spend more time outdoors and their completion gets darker or just plain stays dark. So, I am getting a massage, and being friendly and speaking a little bit of Thai, when these little worlds open up. The ladies also usually speak some broken English. At some point, with no prodding from me, they say, "Your skin is very nice." I generally smile, say "Thank you" and follow that with, "Your skin is nice, too." On cue, almost all of them respond, "No, it's not very pretty" or even "It's dirty." And they smile and laugh and go on to give the most extraordinary massage.
Someday I will share how young Korean girls on an overnight cruise to Japan, talked with me in the snack shop. They giggled, and when I asked what was funny one said, "We really like your high-bridge nose." And sure enough, I have discovered that, among Asian women, this feature is coveted.
On down the road, I will share some insight I've gotten from research on standards of beauty throughout the world, and how they have come about and keep evolving. I also have a hypothesis that I think makes a lot of sense. And it's simple.