The Miss Universe Pageant has varying degrees of importance in different societies. But for the people of Thailand, the Miss Universe Pageant is like the World Cup Finals or the Super Bowl.
We are passionate about it, and we unite behind our Miss Universe Thailand.
This year, however, the above sentence is half true. It’s well known that Amanda Obdam has received her share of hatred for her pro-democracy stance. But hatred is borderless, and it has spilled from politics to racism.
“She doesn’t even look Thai” is the complaint, followed by slews of racist and xenophobic expletives against Amanda, who has a Thai-Chinese mother and a Dutch-Canadian father.
But what does a Thai person look like?
Does he or she have the fair skin of the Lanna people in the north, or is his or her fair skin more akin to the ethnic Thai-Chinese? Is his or her complexion the shade of the Northeastern Isan people or the Southern Malay people? Is his or her features that of a Yuan, a Mon, a Khmer, a Persian, an Indian, an African, or a Caucasian?
What does a pure-blooded, 100% Thai person look like?
A glance at Wikipedia tells us this:
“Thailand is a country of some 70 ethnic groups, including at least 24 groups of ethnolinguistically Tai peoples, mainly the Thai, Lao, and Yuan; 22 groups of Austroasiatic peoples, with substantial populations of Northern Khmer and Kuy; 11 groups of Sino-Tibetan peoples (‘hill tribes‘), with the largest in the population being the Karen; 3 groups of Austronesian peoples, i.e., the Malay, the majority ethnic group in the southernmost three provinces, together with the Moken and Urak Lawoi (‘sea gypsies’); and both groups of Hmong-Mien. Other ethnic groups include longstanding immigrant communities such as the Chinese and Indians.”
Thailand is multiethnic. Shake a family tree, and different ethnicities would fall out. Unfortunately, they would fall into a pool of racism and xenophobia.
What does a Thai person look like?
A combination of different ethnicities, all of which are human, many of whom use skin-whitening cream.