Opinion: Can we please stop calling the latest Miss Universe Thailand “plus-size?”

Anchilee Scott-Kemmis was crowned Miss Universe Thailand 2021 last week and the media and Thai society went bonkers because of, get this, her size. Some Thai media even reported that, “even though she is a plus-size person, she is still proud of her body.”

Wtf?

First of all, how is she plus-size? She looks pretty normal to me. If you think she is “plus-size”, it might be because up until now, the media has only been exposing you to unnaturally-skinny models?

The fact that the Thai society and media can’t let go of their preconceived notions over body image just emphasise even more that Thailand is still very far behind when it comes to “beauty diversity.” Imagine having accomplished something really big in your life and people just want to keep mentioning your weight when they talk about your success.

In Anchilee’s Miss Universe speech, as well as her Instagram’s bio, she mentioned about #RealSizeBeauty. However for ‘Thai beauty standards’, someone with “real size” like her, is, unfortunately, considered “plus-size”.

In this Instagram post below, shows that if you are a 150cm (4’9”) tall woman, you should weigh as little as 40kg in Thailand.

Unfair beauty standards are so so deeply-rooted in the culture here that one might as well label it a uniquely Thai occurence.

I get it, it can happen anywhere, but it seems to happen especially in Asia and especially here. How many times have you met up with your Thai friend for a catch-up and the first thing they greeted you with was, “oh you have gained weight” or “hey you’ve lost weight”. Why is it always the first thing that is mentioned when people greet each other in Thailand?

And just because it is so common in Thailand that people will make jokes about your appearances doesn’t mean it’s not abuse. If you’re reading up to this point and thinking that I’m being a politically-correct police officer, then maybe you’re the problem and have never been on the receiving end of these “jokes” before.

Beauty diversity is not just about sizes, but skin tones, body abnormalities and so on. Anchilee’s win has sparked a debate in Thai society that is long overdue. Criticizing others based on appearance is unfair, mean, and it is time that it changes.

And while we’re glad that the debate has started, Thailand still has a long way to go with this. We should be empowering our women to be proud of who we are, and not have to be forced to fit in any society’s standards. To Anchilee, be proud of yourself, sis, and don’t let anyone judge you based on your appearance.

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