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Dieting pills and teas
Dear Emma,
My girlfriend is obsessed with being thin; she is not one of these stick thin Thai girls but is fairly curvy, which I love. She is not the clonish looking super thin girl with the wavy hair and big eye contacts which is one of the reasons I find her attractive. Yet she is obsessed with being thin, constantly complains about her weight and is taking diet pills and drinking those diet “herbal teas.” She is always hungry, miserable and it is affecting her health as well as our relationship.
I don’t understand why she can’t see that just because she doesn’t fit this cookie cutter image that she is not still beautiful. Emma, what do I do or say to my girlfriend to convince her that she is hurting herself and us with this behavior?

Dear Perplexed,
It is not just Thai society that puts tremendous pressure on women to appear thin and beautiful but many western ones as well and the result turns out to be many very pretty girls with self-esteem issues and eating disorders simply because they do not fit the ideals of beauty as being propagated by the media. Add in a culture that has no qualms about commenting on one’s weight, appearance or anything else, one that values white skin and thinness over intelligence in women and the result is diet pills and low self-esteem.
As a foreign woman I am larger than some Thai women it is true but not fat by any stretch of the imagination and yet shopclerks have no problem telling me “you falang, you big”. Half the time they are larger than me! I was raised to value myself and my intelligence, to put good values, intelligence and accomplishments over being skinny and yet, these barbs still sting. Even when it is actually quite laughable. I have noticed that some women here do this kind of thing regularly especially to those who don’t quite fit in, whether that be because they are not stick thin or not white or some other false norm of beauty.
What can you do for your girlfriend? Well you might want to consider taking her to visit your home country where she will have a chance to see that there is more than one shape in the world and that it is ok to be who she is. But first, take her to a good doctor. One who will give her a full physical and find out how much damage she has really done. You can tell her she is beautiful all you want, and while it does help, it will never actually mitigate the terrible pressures from society at large. But it does help. Love her and accept her for who she is, give her believable compliments and emphasize her good features. It will help.
Best of luck,

Dear Emma,
I have lived in Chiang Mai for a few years now and have noticed a new class of person here; the moocher. These people only show up at an event if the wine and food are free and quickly make sure they get more than their fair share. I have never seen them attend an event that requires them to pay or to buy their own wine. Sadly, these are not 20 something kids working for NGOs or teaching English on a small salary but people in their 40s and 50s who really should know better. Or at least have enough money to either pay or enough sense to go and get a job if they don’t have any money.
I always feel for the artists at the gallery openings these moochers attend because not only do they have no plans to actually buy anything; they are only there for what they can get for free. That is really a sad state of affairs for someone of that age.
Sorry to rant, Emma, but it is something I had to get off my chest. As a 60 year old man who worked very hard during my life for everything I have, I dislike people who go mooch off of others rather than get a job!
Sick of moochers

Dear Sick,
Moochers, as you call them, are a sad fact of life everywhere and not just endemic to Chiang Mai. Although there do seem to be more than a fair few here and being foreigners they are perhaps more visible than they would be back home where they would blend into the social background a little more easily.
It is interesting, when looking up the word “mooch” that the origins of the word appear to come from the Old French word “muchier” which means to hide, skulk. Perhaps that best explains how they can hide in plain sight!
However, dear reader, I am afraid that there is little you can do to discourage moochers. Generally they have very little shame in regards to their behavior, seeing it as perfectly normal and not deserving of any criticism.

Kids these days!
Dear Emma,
Well, like everyone else on the planet I saw news all over the internet regarding this Miley Cyrus girl’s performance on some awards show. I clicked on the link, like everyone else in the world I imagine, and while not disgusted by the performance found it rather pathetic. Is this what young people think is sexy? Or do they think that acting like a street corner hooker on stage will take the place of talent? I have no idea what this girl sounds like after being mixed in a studio but surely it must be far better than she sounds live.
It is a terrible thing when this is the route that girls feel they must take to get attention. I am not sure if it is modern media or just the route the Americans (and the British) seem to be taking but it is not one I think is worthy of repeating here in Thailand.
However, my wife’s interest in the gossip shows and magazines show me that it is here to a much lesser extent. I guess this trend will develop here eventually which is too bad because really, it doesn’t say anything except this poor girl really needs to develop some self esteem or talent to promote herself rather than grinding away on some singer onstage like a stripper on a pole.
Not a fan

Dear Not a fan,
Emma also saw the hullaballoo over the whole thing but refrained from clicking. I did see the word “twerking” in there and did have to look it up to see what it meant. Once I saw its meaning I decided I needed those five minutes in my life more than they needed to be wasted watching it online. So Emma went and did her dishes instead.