ESEP 13:27-37 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esep00134

AS I SEE IT
Thailand: beauty and globalized self-identity through cosmetic therapy and skin lightening

Napat Chaipraditkul*

Eubios Ethics Institute, Bangkok, Thailand

ABSTRACT: Thailand has been through dynamic changes in the process of globalization, facilitating the emergence of technological advancement in improving healthcare and aesthetic surgery. Nonetheless, new advanced merchandise is marketed through advertisements and popular culture that defines what is facial and bodily perfection and fosters a mindset of improving bodily image. This paper introduces factors that affect the identity of Thai men and women in terms of beauty concepts, and some of the ethical issues involved. The concept of perfection of the body is introduced to entice people to undergo physical transformation. The paper looks at some of the Thai Buddhist norms, myths and societal expectations. Fair skin is an ongoing trend in Asia, and dark skin is generally less preferable. In addition, rhinoplastic surgery is used to reconstruct northeastern Thai noses to conform with a new ‘ideal’ shape. Women are more likely to be pressured into controlling their sexuality as pleasingly beautiful: neither totally seductive nor totally virtuous. Concepts of supremacy have evolved together with norms of beauty in Thai society under the shadow of western colonial advancements in Asia and inter-Asian socio-economic hierarchies. In addition to the stigmatization of certain groups because of racial and class prejudice, media images define people as ‘losers’ and ‘winners’ based upon stereotypical characteristics such as whiteness and concepts of ugliness and beauty. More bioethical reflection on the norms of beauty is needed to understand the motives for body enhancement.


KEY WORDS: Buddhism · Bioethics · Colourism · Farang · Sexuality · Lukkreung · Merits · Racism · Na Lao


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Cite this article as: Chaipraditkul N (2013) Thailand: beauty and globalized self-identity through cosmetic therapy and skin lightening. Ethics Sci Environ Polit 13:27-37. https://doi.org/10.3354/esep00134

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