Stickman Readers' Submissions August 3rd, 2010

High-so Girls

It seems that a large majority of the readers' submissions at StickmanBangkok are on the subject of Thai women. The generalizations which have been discussed and debated to death usually revolve around bargirls, ‘normal’
girls or ‘good’ girls. What seems to have been taken for granted, however, are the passing references to ‘high-so’ girls in Thailand. There is an assumption that the women in this so-called ‘elite’ class
are snobbish, vapid, shallow creatures, with no personality to speak of, or even glimmers of independent thought.

What I have just stated, is of course, a generalization in itself – I’m sure not everyone thinks this of ‘hi-so’ girls…erm…right…? However, it is one of the stereotypes regarding Thai women which (to my knowledge)
has not been discussed at any great length on this website.

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Why have I chosen this topic? Well, I admit, it is mostly because if I were to be pigeonholed into a category, I would probably be classed as ‘high-so’ – a term which is actually rather amusing! Perhaps I am mistaken
(and I’m sure other readers will gladly tell me if I am!) but I probably fit the bill: my family is fairly wealthy, is of partly Chinese descent, I live in a gated community in Thonglor, and I have been educated in the UK.

I can understand why such a stereotype has come into existence, regarding ‘high-so’ girls and their air-headed, image-obsessed identity. However, the fact that this is merely an exterior seems to be forgotten! I believe that
I can vouch that wanting to look good and be attractive, as well as wanting a successful career and to stretch your intellectual capacity are not mutually exclusive goals!

Many readers’ submissions cry out against Thai snobbery against dark-skinned Thai girls from the North-East region. But I believe that both farangs and Thais also have similarly damaging pre-conceptions regarding ‘high-so’

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As per usual, let’s delve into a little bit of egocentrism as a starting point shall we? I’m a 21 year old Thai girl, but my features are not all distinctively Thai. I’m light-skinned, with big eyes, on the tall side
for a Thai girl and have quite a generous bust and hips, which makes most people think that I am Eurasian. I will admit that in general this does make most Thai and other Asians find me attractive – but it is often said that Asians and Westerners
don’t have an overlapping taste in women. However, I would maintain that I get roughly equal compliments and attention in both Thailand in the UK. It is said that a large part of what makes ‘high-so’ girls so vain and shallow
is the fact that they have been told all their lives by Thai society that they are the epitome of beauty. I would say this is very much an individual matter – despite what other people say, it is possible to still feel ugly! I probably
have some deep-rooted body-image issues, but despite men and women complimenting me in Thailand and in the UK, as well as being encouraged to audition for lakorns and enter some pagents by agents (‘maew-mong’) in
Thailand, but when I look at myself in the mirror, I see a plain looking girl with big ears and who is far too curvy (fat). Being ‘high-so’ in Thailand certainly doesn’t give everyone instant confidence or extreme vanity.

I would also like to dispel the myth that ‘high-so’ girls are only interested in beauty and wealth. I admit that I do want to be found attractive – most women probably do – and I want to live a comfortable lifestyle,
but this does not necessarily make me the vacant-consumerist-machine of many farang descriptions. I am an ambitious individual, and for what it’s worth, as it seems a lot of people like to list their credentials as ‘proof’
of intelligence (although to what extent this should actually be considered ‘proof’ is debatable!) I have a first-class honours degree in politics from a top-10 UK university, and am about to embark on my post-graduate education
in law at a top London law school. I hope to qualify as a solicitor, and I take both my studies and my prospective career very seriously! I enjoy doing what most ‘high-so’ girls are deemed ‘not capable’ of doing, according
to the masses – being interested in politics, current affairs and social issues, being articulate and capable of expressing my own opinion, and wanting to have a successful career of my own. I’m not obsessed with extravagant designer
goods or finding the ‘right’ wealthy ‘high-so’ man to further consolidate my ‘wealth and social status.’ High-so girls' interests are also assumed to be severely limited, to engaging in retail therapy
in Bangkok’s luxury shopping malls, being pampered in beauty spas and attending glamorous parties. But let me disclose a few of the things that make me happy in life: learning – by creatively and intellectually stimulated, eating
good food, writing, watching a good movie, reading an interesting book and playing sports!

On the subject of men, the rumour is generally that ‘high-so’ girls wouldn’t be caught dead with a farang, only a high-so Thai-Chinese man, from a proper family. I met my English boyfriend of three years whilst at university
in the UK: he is a medical student of the same age as me. He has no ‘status’ as far as I am aware – his father is a plumber and his mother is an office-worker. I don’t think most people who see us together in Thailand
think that I am a bargirl, but to be honest, at the end of the day, it doesn’t bother me if they do! It doesn’t make me feel like I am ‘losing face,’ although it is an uncomfortable situation for any woman to be in,
to be reduced to a sexual object. I have had a Western man leer at me before: ‘what do I have to do to get you,’ and to be stared at in a very obvious and unabated sexual manner. But what really needs to be dealt with is the social
and economic problems which lead to Thailand’s reliance on the sex industry / tourism, and the stigmatism surrounding the issue of prostitutes and prostitution! I’m not concerned about ‘losing face’ – the qualities
that matter to me in a partner are communication, a sense of humour, a sense of responsibility and loyalty, relative intelligence and attractiveness, compatible goals and ambitions, and lastly but not least, love and respect of one another! I
believe that communication is an important factor in relationships – but it is a necessary rather than sufficient criterion for a good relationship! It is necessary to be able to communicate your opinions and feelings to your partner, but
it is not the be-all and end-all. I also like to believe (hopeless romantic that I am) that love also goes beyond words: so I’m not averse to dating any man solely on the basis of his nationality! I’ve done what numerous people have
vouched that ‘high-so’ girls would never think to do – I’ve been to the red-light district (Patpong and Nana) with my farang boyfriend. I don’t know much about bargirls' lives or prostitution, but it is
something which Thailand is notorious for, and certainly a social problem – visiting those areas gave me a chance to get a very small glimpse into what that world is like. It is also the reason I ended up reading Stickman and other similar
material in the first place. It is something which I have much more to say, and much more that I hope I can somehow help to change someday in the future…but again, that is a matter for another time!

In this submission, I have been referring to my own personal experiences, so I am sure that many will object to my views, arguing that I am the exception to the rule, rather than making the rule invalid. But many of my friends who could be
described as ‘hi-so’ share similar experiences and views to me – they are capable of intelligent thought, they are not elitist or condescending and they have career aspirations to be doctors, barristers, theatre directors,
professors – a wide range of challenging professions. They are well-rounded and capable individuals in their own right.

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What I don’t want people thinking is that this submission is a cry of woe-is-me, poor little rich girl whining about how people stereotype her and her rich friends. I am aware of how lucky I am that I was given the opportunity to pursue
my career ambitions and to help broaden my intellectual capacity, as well as the very comfortable lifestyle which my parents have afforded me.

My message is this: don’t forget that the fleeting, seemingly well-informed references to hi-so girls on these pages are also just stereotypes. Don’t think that they’re the vast majority are stuck-up, conceited bitches
with a consumerist agenda and a personality as dry as cardboard. I speak in defence of myself and my friends from similar backgrounds – that is if you consider it apt to label me as hi-so!

I don’t pretend to know everything or be the harbinger of ultimate truth (I’m still only 21 years young, so I’ve got a lot to learn) but I can I assure the readers on this site that me, one of Thailand’s ‘high-so’
girls is more friendly, approachable and less prone to elitism than most people seem to think!

Stickman's thoughts:

Your perspective is very welcome indeed so many thanks for putting this article together. – I'm very interested to see what sort of responses this gets.

From my own perspective, I only ever dated one truly hi-so girl and she was a real darling. My experience with the hi-sos has been that most have a lot of family pressure on them to marry the right kind of guy and not to sleep around before marriage. As such they tend to date Thais from similarly wealthy families. I say this matter of factly and certainly understand why they choose to do this.

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