Elizabeth Briel, Travel Artist

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Painted White as Snow

her skin was whiter than snow

Gouache, Acrylic and Ink on handmade paper

Last week my sister and I were distracted by a TV ad as we rode the skytrain back to our hotel. Our car was cool and we relaxed after a hot afternoon visiting Bangkok’s Old City. We shared seats with locals from all over Thailand, in a range of sizes, shapes and shades: a few Isaan girls from the Northeast, wearing miniskirts and spaghetti string tanktops on their way to work in girlie bars; southerners who showed South Asian traces in their features; and Chinese-Thais from the city’s merchant class.

The TVs held everyone’s attention; no one in the car spoke as an ad extolled the virtues of an expensive whitening cream. On a half-dozen screens light radiated from the fingertip of a Eurasian model who leaned leggily against a heavenly background.

“Why do all the people on TV here look the same?” my sister asked, “when there are so many different kinds of Thais?”

Whitening creams are everywhere in Southeast Asia- there are even whitening deodorants.

But the TV ad we saw was nothing compared to one I saw the next day. It shows you how to get an engagement ring in a single week: use Pond’s Flawless White[ning] Cream, work as a painter’s model, and you’ll seduce a guy as he mixes in more and more white with your flesh tones.

Watch the ad Here.

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