the price of beauty: thailand

Well I said I’d watch Jessica Simpson’s new show, The Price of Beauty, and I did do it. I did find some things interesting as I will discuss below, but then I also saw some comments from this article on People.com that were not favorable at all. So let’s discuss, shall we?

First thing to note is that the team traveling is Jessica, Ken Paves (her hair stylist) and CaCee Cobb (her best friend). They started in Bangkok where they learned an immediate difference between U.S. culture and the Thai- the color of the skin. In the U.S., the tanner women are, the thinner you feel and in turn, the happier you are. In Thailand, the fairer the skin, the more beautiful you are. Sonia, their beauty ambassador in the country, even said that many foundations and make-up have whiteners in them to help the process.

From there, Sonia had them meet one of her friends, Panya, who had a horrible experience with the whiteners. She was a singer in a bar and was recommended a product to use by a friend to bleach her skin. After she started to use it, her skin started to peel which made it fairer and made her feel good… until she went out into the sun and it started to burn. After her husband saw what was happening, he left her. Now she too embarassed to go out in public 😦

But before leaving the country, and after a visit to a market for fried insects and a visit to a Buddhist monk, they flew to Northern Thailand to the Chiang Rai Provence to see another form of beauty. These women from the Karen Hill tribe wear golden rings around their neck as a symbol of beauty. They start when they’re around 5 or 6 years old and while it is a choice, many choose to partake in this custom because it’s considered beautiful.

They leave them on all the time, even in the shower, and because of the weight of the rings, it pushes the shoulders down and makes the neck look long. (FYI: these rings can weigh up to 20#! Ouch!) But there is a special ceremony and tradition in doing this which is very important to Thai culture and in it’s own way, that is beautiful.

Even though I’m not a huge Jessica Simpson fan because I feel like she doesn’t take some things as seriously as she should or could be considered a rude American (um, laughing in front of a Buddhist monk and gagging on fried insects is not respectful), I do feel like the concept is thoughtful and something that every young woman should see to hopefully open their eyes to the farce of beauty standards.

But as I said earlier, I looked online for stories about the show and stumbled across a summary on People. This might not be the most creditable of a news source, but for the audience of the show, I felt like looking at the comments after the article would be beneficial. There were a lot of positive ones…

and then there were a lot of negative ones similar to this…

Did you watch the show? What was your impression? I’m mixed because while it’s not National Geographic or to that standard, I feel by not being serious or knowledgeable about the topic could possibly hurt the creditability of the show and the issue at hand. It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out in the following weeks.

Stay tuned for next week’s show where we’ll meet actress Isabelle Caro in Paris. She’s the model on the Nolita ad that got so much backlash from the public- including me- and I’m interested how they handle speaking about her eating disorder.

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5 responses to “the price of beauty: thailand

  1. I really liked the show – probably has to do with my love for Jessica Simpson, too. I read some negative articles and how it tanked in ratings – I really think that is because it is not a trashy, reality show like we are all used to watching. It actually comes off boring to some. But I loved it!

  2. I watched the show and I enjoyed it. I think the concept is interesting, as different cultures have such different ideas of beauty (and ways to be “beautiful”). I thought Jessica Simpson came across as really genuine and down-to-earth, which sort of surprised me, to be honest. And she’s funny too. I’m not analyzing the show too deeply. I mean, to me, it’s not some huge social criticism; it’s for entertainment, with some reflection on beauty standards. I don’t expect it to be super deep, and that’s fine with me.

  3. This is interesting- I really appreciate and respect what they’re trying to do, but I just wished they had picked someone a little more insightful than Jessica Simpson. I mean, I obviously don’t know her personally but I the impression I get is that she is not one of deep introspect. Still, props to them for tackling this issue.

    I definitely noticed a different standard of beauty when I studied abroad in Kenya last semester. I’m on the curvier side and the amount of positive attention I received in relation to my body was really eye-opening. Kenyan guys don’t go for stick-thin girls. LIke in so many developing countries, thin = sick, hungry, poor. Curvy = healthy, wealthy.

  4. I watched it yesterday. I didn’t have huge expectations for it, but I did see her on Oprah and I appreciated her honesty so I watched. It seemed like she was more serious on Oprah than she was on the show. The bad parts (the laughing and gagging) took away so much from the other parts.

    • I completely agree- I liked her better on Oprah and I felt she gave a better message there. While I think its a great show, I’d love to pick up a project like this and do a more serious/personal story about cultural beauty in the future if I can.

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