Why are ‘Luk kreung’ successful in Thai Media? Half-Asian Advantages…?
“The signs of beauty are the signs of health” (R. Elisabeth Cornwell, psychologist)
The topic I want to address today concerns the increasing success and dominance of ‘luk kreung’, half-Thai people, in Thai entertainment industry since the 1990s. I’ve already brought up this subject in my recent article about ‘Luk kreung’ and concepts of mixed race in Thailand arguing that half-Thais are preferred because of their Western appearance and adherence to the current Thai beauty ideal of fair skin, tall statue and large eyes.
This seems to be a lucid but also a superficial explanation. However, I’ve asked myself if there might also be a scientific interpretation for this phenomenon? Are we maybe justified in saying that half-Asian people possess genetic advantages? I know this sounds controversial but might not there be some truth in it?
Taking the example of the lovely ‘couple’ Nadech and Yaya, they have their good looks in common and they are both half-Thai. The same is true of half-Thai actors Mario and Mai Davika whom we know from the comedy ghost movie ‘Phi Mak Phra Khanong’. There are numerous other examples that show ‘luk kreung’ have become a kind of ‘elite’ in Thai entertainment industry. An interesting case is also the luk-kreung actress Florence Faivre in the movie ‘The Siam Renaissance’ (2004). What’s more, Thai youth culture also seems to have incorporated and favoured the presence of half-Thai entertainers in Thai media. Thus, some years ago, the Thai-British actress Paula Taylor said that ‘everyone in the entertainment industry is luk kreung nowadays’ and she seems to be right.
In popular culture, people with mixed racial origins are generally referred to as ‘hapa’ which stems from the Hawaiian Pidgin word for “part” or “mixed”.
As far as ‘luk kreung’ are concerned, there are so many popular half-Thai people in Thai media today. Hence, it only seems natural if society would also go for and embrace a mixed look. Nonetheless, media exposure alone does not completely explain the perception of half-Asian, and in particular half-Thai beauty in this context.
We may assume that half-Asian people possess genetic advantages that let them appear more attractive. For instance, as Psychology Today (1/2006) claims it is a fact that Eurasian faces are generally considered to be more appealing and pleasant than European or Asian faces. One reason for this perception is that Eurasians and other ‘hapa’ people seem to be of good genetic health which makes them attractive. Like R. Elisabeth Cornwell, a psychologist at the University of Colorado, argues: “The signs of beauty are the signs of health”.
Consequently, we must assume that people who are beautiful must necessarily be more productive and more fit for survival than others…this is a controversial topic, I know and what is beauty anyway? We may define ‘beauty’ as a matter of symmetry concerning features and body statue. What is more, it is also a matter of subjective perception, preference and culture…
In fact, studies have shown that half-Asians seem healthier because of their diverse genetic ancestry which generally lower the chances of particular genetic diseases. Some studies in this field have also revealed that the perception of attractiveness is mainly connected to the appearance of a person’s skin. I’m aware of the fact that this subject is disputable but on the whole I guess the argumentation is right and plausible – diverse genetic ancestry seems to be beneficial to a person’s health 🙂
Nevertheless, it remains controversial if Eurasian features are generally the most attractive. There are also studies that claim the opposite. Well, I think this is primarily a matter of subjective and cultural perception. Considering the case of successful ‘luk kreung’ in Thai media, I think it might be their mix of being at home in different cultures that makes them particularly interesting and desirable.
A very prominent example of a distinctively mixed heritage with Thai royal origins is Hugo Chakrabongse Levy whose grandfather Prince Chula Chakrabongse (1908-1963) was already a half-Thai. Hugo can be considered a good example of a person who seems to be both comfortable with Thai and Western culture even though he is only 1/8 of Thai origin (amazing!).
In a nutshell, we may certainly be justified in saying that there are half-Asian advantages, considering the fact that people of mixed heritage come inevitably into contact with different cultures generally. Nonetheless, this topic is broad and there remains a lot more to say about advantages and disadvantages that hapa people generally face in different contexts and cultures…this may be a subject for further posts concerning ‘luk kreung’ 🙂