Notes
1
Prototypes of unattractive, brilliant women abound in classical and modern Thai literature. Female characters in novels, unable to conform to the beautiful, subservient ideal, go abroad to do graduate work (Kepner 1996:8– 9).
2
Sumpuary laws regulate consumption and use of goods such as dishes, textiles, umbrellas, and foods in order to maintain control over the presentation of status differences.
3
An earlier draft including my response to the pre-democracy protests was also circulated as a working paper from the Thai Studies Project, York University.
4
Estimates of the numbers of protestors killed is a hotly debated subject. NGOs were accused of inflating the numbers, and the military of deflating them. Further discussion of the politics of numbers can be found in Callahan (1998b).
5
Research on Thai beauty contests is based on the documents assembled in Supatra Kobkitsuksakul's MA thesis (1987) Miss Thailand Contest: 1934–87 (Thammasat University), Flowers of the Nation (in Thai) by Orasom Suttisakorn (1990), the photograph collection (since 1934) in the National Archives, and observation of a number of local, national and international contests in Thailand. There were certainly local beauty contests before 1934 – the Chiang Mai Winter Fair, Miss Lao Song at Nakorn Prathom, and the many community contests held throughout the country at New Years (Songkran). These local beauty contests may have become one means for attracting more applicants for the national contests, but there are inadequate records of these local contests before the 1930s when national contests began.
6
Many international beauty contests have to deal with the sleaze factor. For example, two candidates for a recent Miss Italy contest were withdrawn, one, because Italy's most beautiful woman turned out to be a man, born a hermaphrodite and surgically made a woman, and the first potential black Miss Italy had appeared nude in a magazine (Toronto Star, 3 Sept. 1992). To improve the image of the Miss China competition, contestants will be asked to give backrubs to homeless pensioners, play with orphans, and comfort the dying (Toronto Star, 8 Aug. 1992).
7
This is not just a feature of international contests, for the primary purpose of provincial Thai beauty contests is to promote tourism and sales of local products. Provincial and local beauty contests were used to promote everything from bananas to gem stones. Contestants saw beauty contests as a route to economic prosperity; an advertising or entertainment executive might see them and sign them up, or provide product endorsements for them. The Miss Universe contest fits well into this Thai pattern of commercial beauty contests.

-160-

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Materializing Thailand
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • List of Figures xi
  • Part I - Orientations 1
  • One - Crafting Thailand 3
  • Notes *
  • Two - Ordering the Past: Representations of Thai Women 35
  • Notes *
  • Three - Buddhism and Gender Ideology 65
  • Notes *
  • Part II - Representations 93
  • Four - Representing Thai Culture 95
  • Notes *
  • Five - Deconstructing Display: Gender and Beauty 129
  • Notes 160
  • Six - Prostitution and Foreign Bodies 163
  • Notes *
  • Part III - Interpretations 199
  • Seven - Modelling Thai Gender Relations 201
  • Notes *
  • Eight - Context and Continuity: Grasshoppers, Turtles and Feminists 227
  • Notes *
  • Bibliography 241
  • Index 269
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