Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Is The Desire For White Skin In Thailand Negatively Impacting African Diaspora Transwomen's Chances To Win The MIQ Title?

This is a guest post from the ever brilliant Monica of TransGriot


I wrote about the controversial conclusion of the 2011 edition of the Thailand based Miss International Queen Pageant and wondered aloud about the interesting factoid that no transwoman from the African Diaspora has ever won this event in its history.

Could it be because white skin is considered desirable and beautiful in the Land Of Smiles and other countries in the Asia-Pacific rim and those prejudices for white skin are impacting the chances of darker skin beauties to win an international trans pageant with all Thai judges?  

Skin bleaching and lightening creams are not just an issue in the Caribbean, African nations and the rest of the African Diaspora, they are also an issue in the Asia-Pacific rim as well.    A survey done by marketing company Synovate discovered that 4 out of 10 women in Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan use a skin lightening cream.  

There is also region wide stigma, racism and negativity attached to having dark skin as well.   In Thailand as in other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the stigma of darker skin is rooted in language.   It's not surprising as a child of the Diaspora to learn that a common Thai insult aimed at someone of lower social standing is "tua dam," or black body.  Along the same lines are "e dam" (black girl) or "dam tap pet" (black like a duck's liver). 

When you have reports of Thai women who in pursuit of that desirable white skin are disfigured because of black market skin lightening products that promise to deliver but ruin skin but lives in the process, it leads you to ponder the possibility that the distaste for darker skin is infecting the all Thai judging panels and negatively impacting the African descended and other dark skin beauties who enter the MIQ pageant.

I'd submit that the troubling pattern of no African Diaspora contestant ever winning the Miss International Queen pageant over its existence is evidence to suggest that it is probably happening.

It's also why I'm not letting this issue go in continuing to call for an international panel of judges for the 2012 and future Miss International Queen pageants.   As the Miss Universe and Miss World ciswomen pageant organizers already know, what you Thais consider beautiful for a woman doesn't have the same currency in the Middle East, the Caribbean, South America, Europe or North America. 

It's past time for the Miss International Queen judging panels, if they are going to continue to claim they are a premier international transgender pageant, to expand their beauty mindset to reflect that just as those cis pageant systems do.

It's not a surprise because of an internationally diverse judging panel, this year's Miss Universe is a statuesque woman from Angola.

It will be interesting to observe what transpires over the next year for the Miss International Queen pageant. Will they continue business as usual in the face of strong rumors that a Manila based international trans pageant may be about to kick off next year and risk getting eclipsed or will they evolve already and institute those international judging pageant that will give African Diaspora and dark skin beauties from other nations a fair chance to win?