In sophisticated, urban Bangkok Thailand there is a wish to keep skin pale.
It is one thing to cover your skin in the heat. Fashionably sleeveless, we see young women wearing stretchy elastic arm covers. Some wear leg stockings, overshirts with long sleeves. People who work outside all wear big hats with long cloth around the back to cover the neck, and attachment in front to cover the face nose-down.
It is sensible to protect skin from sun. But some of these efforts are to keep skin light, to keep it from darkening.
Pregnant women are told, we hear, to drink soy milk everyday so their baby will be light. Avoid coffee.
Most telling are the ubiquitous adverts for Snail White and Cathy Doll make-up- both skin bleacheners.
The ad backgrounds are most often white, actors clothed in white and pink, faces gleaming pale, almost iridescent, in the expanse of pastel.
How in a culture where the Buddha is everywhere, clad in gold and jewels and adored, looking like you with your eye folds, your nose, your lips- how can you not be happy with your beautiful brown skin?