How Thai are you?

Our guest writer Nal posted a question a while back on what constitute Thainess. Well, the recent Miss Thailand World shananigan brought up the topic again at the Nation:

“Defining this thing called ‘Thainess'”.

Back in the 1996, “Cindy” Sirinya Vinsiri won Miss Thailand World title. She doesn’t look Thai at all. I mean, the girl’s eyes are green…or was it blue…or grey?. Doesn’t matter. They ain’t “black eyes”. But she’s born and raised in Thailand. Obviously she speaks, reads, and writes Thai. Take away her looks and she’s as Thai as, well, yours truly. (May be I’m even less “Thai” that she is with my opinionated big mouth. I don’t know her personally so I can only assume. Hehe.)

But seriously. What is a Thai? The article asks a lot of questions on that and it is indeed a subject to be explored.

I’m considered myself all Thai, but is my being “liberal/progressive” make me an American or less of a Thai? Is a Thai-Australian, raised in Australia, who could barely speaks Thai but won Miss Thailand World pageant Thai enough? Why is Tiger Woods considered Thai to us even though he counts himself more of African-American? Is Thai born and raised who has premarital sex and lives with a boyfriend Thai? Is Wit a Thai since he speaks Thai and loves the country? Could Master Bruce of Fong Naam be considered Thai because he pretty much is one?

A thought provoking Friday read, indeed. Now, back to work for me. 🙂

6 responses to “How Thai are you?

  1. Thought provoking indeed. Thanks for the nod Oakely I consider that a compliment. Sometimes I think I would feel more proud to be a Thai than an American when I see some of what we Americans do in the name of ‘patriotism.’

    If I may throw in my opinion I don’t think it really matters how much of a percent your blood is Thai or even how long you’ve lived in Thailand wrapped in the culture or the land. Certainly not whether you have a Thai boyfriend or girlfriend and live, eat, sleep and breath Thailand.

    Maybe I am a hopeless idealist but I believe only one qualification makes you Thai. No matter where you call home or whether your skin is white or black or brown. That’s the Thai ‘Jai’.

    You ain’t got that then no matter what you do, where you live and where you’ve been then you ain’t Thai. Chai mai?

    -Burma Wit

  2. The story of ‘Cindy’ is certainly thought provoking.

    In fact her surname is ‘Burbridge’.

    Thais will tell you that you, as a caucasian, can never be Thai.

    Here is the farce, Cindy, the Pattaya farang-born girl, won Miss Thailand World and she is 100% caucasian. She’s got no Thai blood whatsoever, but the media makes her out to be a Eurasian. Even Cindy dyes her hair and does her make-up to make her look as Eurasian as possible.

    I’ve personally known her mum (she likes to stay out the limilight!) and can tell you she is as farang as could be with striking blond hair.

    She’s isn’t a Thai but she is Thai, i mean she was born her so holds Thai nationality.

    As for Tiger Woods, he personally stays out of Thailand and so does his mother. Why? His mother has been anti-Thai ever since she went to live in The US. If she comes back to Thailand then folks can only envisage her as an under-educated rural farmers girl that struck it lucky and produced an award-winning kiddie.

    Of course, living in the States she can forget about her past and would prefer to live amongst Farang Americans who havent the faintest.

    Back to Cindy again. If she can be claimed ‘Thai’ by the media, then if i gain citizenship can i be Thai too? As for Bruce Gaston of Fong Naam he’ll always be a Farang just like me. But perhaps we could get a nose and eye-job done just like Cindy?

  3. Yes I consider this from time to time too. I’ve spent perhaps a third of my life in Asia thus far and have loved it my entire life, but I am non-Asian American. Perhaps it depends on the person’s individual circumstances and that a person can be more than one entity?

    Cindy is both Thai and farang – she was born there and I’m guessing acts Thai, but by blood and appearance she is farang and will never be able to escape this fact. Tiger and his mother are both Thai and American because of their blood and where they chose to live their lives. Wit is both American and Thai because of birth and his love and knowledge of Thailand.

    It’s difficult to place a culture within a clean-cut boundary. I bet more Thai people have pre-marital sex than anyone is willing to admit because it is part of their indentity to be chaste. I wonder if those Thais who have pre-marital sex suffer a bit of identity crisis? I personally know Catholics who have gone through that.

    This is always an interesting subject 🙂

  4. Imho, the general perception here in a country where you’re considered nothing until you’ve won something is that anyone’s welcomed to be “Thai” as long as they’re successful/famous/rich (in the same veins that the Singaporean government encourages successful – business-wise – angmohs to apply for citizenship).

  5. in my experience, I must tell you that it is very possible for our minds to accomodate a farang as one of our own, but it takes time and deeds. The ‘ parsi’ community in India is an example. When they fled persecutrion from Iran to India many years ago, they were questioned as to how they will be able to stay here. They mentioned they will mix like ‘sugar in milk’. Since that day its been so. They rarely marry out of their community so their colour is absolutely fair and their features very sharp and so are their social practises. Very farang. But the way they talk, walk and behave is Indian. And no one in India would every think otherwise. They are 100% Indians, extremely succesful and very very loved by all.

  6. I wonder how Thai am I…. a Malaysian Chinese with who speaks Thai, with more Chinese ancestry than Thai…… Well, one my grandmothers is a Thai Chinese from Phuket.

    Somehow, I feel very comfortable being around Thais, and being around Thailand. I guess, in the meantime, I have to be contented to be a Thai Wannabe Lost in Malaysia…… LOL