It is common for young Thai ladies to work in an career that relies on their good looks, for example in marketing, PR girls, models, and other jobs in addition to dancer, masseuse or bar girl. In this case an ex-beauty queen who was Miss Thailand in the Miss Universe Pageant in 2005 has moved on to a second career as an airline pilot. Local Malaysian media have interviewed Chananporn Rosjan (nickname: Nod) who now flies for AirAsia. Now 35 years old she says,
“I’m really your average girl from Thailand. In all honesty, I don’t know how to put on make-up and I’m really the sort who prefers jeans and t-shirts over dresses and skirts. In school, I was into athletics and played games such as volleyball, basketball and wakeboarding. Between gowns and jeans, I’d chose jeans,” says the friendly pilot, who comes across more as the girl next door rather than a glamorous beauty queen.
Like many Thais these days Chananporn grew up overseas and can speak English, with a New York accent. Maybe President Trump would want to grab her? Back in 2005 she proved that God does give with both hands winning the beauty contest and also a training place with AirAsia. There are not many female airline captains and it is a male dominated industry. Chananporn has now been with AirAsia for 11 years and worked her way up gaining 8000 flight hours.
Many Asian cultures are highly patriarchal so it must be difficult for someone like Chananporn to succeed against the attitudes of some of her older male colleagues. However it does show that attitudes in Thailand are changing and it is a socially accepting country, including in formal work settings.
However, not all Thai ladies have a plan for when their good looks fade. Walking around Pattaya it is possible to see many who are still involved in the entertainment industry either in a managerial or ownership capacity, or still doing the jobs they originally trained for such as massage. For these who were not lucky to gain a place in education or have the support of family to move careers, Pattaya offers the chance to retain gainful employment.
In other cases we know a showgirl who we first met 3 years ago in a gogo bar. She left to start a business selling clothes but her efforts failed possibly due to lack of education and experience. So we found her back in the bar and heard her story.
Others move horizontally from bar to massage or vice versa, trapped in these low skill occupations. Some use their nous to move into positions behind the bar managing the staff or into bar ownership.
Finding a foreign benefactor is not as common as you might think. Most Thai bar girls are poorly suited for long term relationships and the farang eventually realises this and calls things off. This is not to say that all relationships are doomed to failure merely that in our experience a language barrier plus shared history makes it difficult to create a lasting bond.