Youths and Thai Beauty Standards
“What is beautiful is good.” is a stereotype that has resided in society for a longtime. Physical appearance plays a vital role in people’s lives since it is the first thing that is perceived by people in society. Clearly, nowadays, good-looking people often show up in many advertisements as a presenter. Also, in the Thai entertainment industry, beautiful casts typically get a chance to be a leading actor or actress. Even though some believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, there is one important criterion used for judging how attractive people should be—beauty standards. What are Thai beauty standards? The group of people who can completely answer this question is “youths.” This is because beauty is perfectly represented by youthfulness. In other words, beauty strikingly stands out when those who own it are still young. Moreover, these days, beauty standards are likely to matter for Thai teenagers due to the increase of teens who do plastic surgery.
Terra, a twenty-one-year-old college student, says “a handsome man has to be tall and fit. Plus, healthy skin and prominent nose better a man’s look.” Meanwhile, Ploy, a twenty-year-old college student, says “Thai beauty standards for a woman are to have light and clean skin, skinny body, prominent nose, and V-shaped face.” Besides, when it comes to the group of people who match Thai beauty standards, most Thai stars and celebrities represent how people fitting in beauty standards look like. That is to say, the appearance of people appearing in media influences audiences, which makes audiences desire to follow these beauty standards. However, it is impossible for humans to lookalike without being twins. Humans are diverse; so, these fixed beauty standards are too rigid to allow everyone in society to conform. Som, a college representative who is also an influencer on Instagram admits “Despite being labeled as a good-looking girl in my college, I still can’t match all of my appearance with Thai beauty standards.” Then, Ploy adds “My white skin is the only thing that matches these standards.”
If Thai beauty standards are too fixed for Thai youths, do these standards affect them? Terra states “Beauty standards never privilege me, but it makes me feel inferior. For example, when joining some activities, people who belong to beauty standards are often taken a picture of; while, I, as a plain-looking boy, rarely show up in the photo.” Also, Maprang, a fifteen-year-old student, supports Terra’s saying “I never get any privilege from beauty standards because I think I can’t fit in them. On the other hand, these beauty standards hurt me by making me feel unsatisfied with my own look.” Nevertheless, beauty standards positively affect some people. Som says “I, as a girl who seemingly fit in these beauty stereotypes, gain privilege from beauty standards because my appearance seemingly matching Thai beauty standards gives me an opportunity to be an influencer and a representative of my college, which makes me earn money and popularity.” Ploy also agrees with Som and says“ Because of my light and clean skin that fit in Thai beauty standards, I am always judged to be a kind and friendly girl, which I still don’t understand why. It might be the halo effect.” Still, Som argues “Sometimes, beauty standards hurt me because I am often assumed that all of my successes are caused by my good look, not my ability.” It is obvious that beauty standards are not the culprit; yet, what needs to be blamed and criticized is the society that judges and values people by beauty standards and physical appearance. In addition, how people in society treat good-looking people and average-looking people shows that Thai society is still obsessed with outer beauty instead of valuing inner beauty. The consequences are that many youths who do not belong to Thai beauty standards encounter unfairness from being discriminated against, and youths who fit in beauty standards gain privilege over others. However, Som, who is considered beautiful, still faces problems resulted from society sticking with beauty standards.
So, should beauty standards exist in society? Terra says “Actually, it is not that bad to have beauty standards in the society, but beauty standards must not be used for discriminating people.” Ploy also adds “For some careers like a salesperson, flight attendant, or actor, good look still matters because it makes audiences or customers pleased. So, I think beauty standards can exist in society for some purposes, but people should stop trying to exclude people who do not fit in these standards.” Moreover, Maprang suggests “I think that Thai beauty standards should be more diverse in order to give a chance to many people to feel proud of their looks.” Apparently, Thai teens do not want to eradicate these beauty standards, but they solely want these stereotypes to be more various and want people in society to stop treating people by their appearance. If society values people by their inner beauty and personality, the suffering, struggling, and lack of opportunity resulted from beauty standards that many Thai youths are facing can be put to an end soon.
In brief, for Thai youths, Thai beauty standards are problematic only because of their fixedness. The real problem is people in the society that overly worship beauty standards and try to make people who do not match these criteria feel like an outcast or feel inferior. Thus, what Thai teenagers want nowadays is to be treated fairly and not be judged by their cover.
- Thamonwan Tongchoi