Many Asians, kneel and prostrate before their elders invoking their blessings. The above down-to-earth photo of Khanittha ‘Mint’ Phasaeng, the beauty queen who won the title Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015, prostrating and invoking the blessings of her 47-year-old mother Orathai Pormaun, a garbage collector, amidst garbage bins, has won the heart of everyone who saw it on the internet.
According to the Bangkok Post, the 17-year-old Khanittha’s parents had separated when she was young and her mother had remarried. Khanittha lived in a 4-by-5-metre shack with five other family members where her mother also stored garbage for separation before sale.
Because of the crowded conditions at her home, Khanittha had to move and live with an aunt. Due to poverty, Khanittha was then adopted by a salon owner named ‘Know’, who sent her to school until she completed primary school or Mathayom 3.
Khanittha adores her mother. She has never been ashamed of her background or what her mother does to earn a living. “What I am today is because of my mother. There is no reason why I should feel inferior because my mother and I earn our livelihood by doing honest work.”
The teenager helps her family by assisting her mother sort recyclables from the trash. She also takes on menial jobs and sells used clothes to help cover household expenses and her brother’s education.
Because she is tall and good looking, some friends suggested that she should enter the beauty contest “Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015” launched by “Exclusive Star“, the Tabloid magazine, which had just celebrated its 3rd anniversary and entering its fourth year with aims to promote gender equality and same-sex marriage.
The aim of this pageant contest with the slogan “gender equality” was to bring all women together in a beauty showdown, whether identified as female at birth or have transformed to be one over the years. The contest allowed the participation of only Thai women and trans-women between the age of 17-25 years, to show off their beauty and talent for a reward. Applications were available from August 29, 2015, at Imperial World Samrong.
Encouraged by her friends, Khanittha decided to take part in this somewhat cut-throat competition.
The beauty pageant, Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015 open to both women and Transgenders was held on Friday, September 25, 2015, at the Imperial World Samrong,
When the referee announced Khanittha the winner, she thought it was a dream and wondered how an ordinary girl like herself could have won the title of “Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015.”
Almost immediately after crowning Khanittha ‘Mint’ Phasaeng as Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015, many universities contacted the organizers offering her scholarships. This prompted the organizers to scrutinize her application form. They discovered that Khanittha had lied about her education. She had submitted that she had completed senior high school or Mathayom 6 (Level 12) whereas she has only completed primary school or Mathayom 3.
On Thursday, October 15, 2015, a news conference was held near Khanittha’s house in Samut Prakan province, to end speculation whether she would lose the crown.
Somchai ‘Daisy’ Leknoi, director of Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015, told the press that the contest, held for the first time at the Imperial World Samrong, aimed to provide opportunities to people from all social classes. She said the organizers and the two runners-up held no grudge against her as the event did not limit the gender or education of competitors. Nobody would take away her prizes, but she should not have lied about her education. Somchai Leknoi said, “However, we think she should apologize for her mistake. We just want all candidates to tell the truth, so they do not face any problems in the future.“
Khanittha apologized to Somchai Leknoi, claiming she had no intention of lying about her education; her uncle had filled the application form for her and she had failed to check it before submitting it. She thanked the committee for not withholding her prizes. She said that she would spend the money on her brother’s education.
Khanittha THB 30,000 in cash as part of her prize.
After the win, Khanittha ‘Mint’ Phasaeng has gained advertising, film and television work which she hopes will improve the situation at home, and would continue to help her mother collect garbage for a living.
- Touching moment Thai beauty queen kneels down in a glittering tiara and sash to thank rubbish collecting mother who raised her
- Humble Garbage Collecting Teen Win’s Thai Beauty Contests (chiangraitimes.com)
- Khanittha Phasaeng A Garbage Collector crowned Miss Uncensored News Thailand (angelopedia.com)
- Thailand’s beauty pageant winner kneels to her mother (dramafever.com)
- Once a garbage collector, now a Thai beauty queen (women.asiaone.com)
- This 17 Year-Old Thai Beauty Queen Did the Most Touching Thing After Winning the Crown (hitz.fm)
- สาวแท้-สาวเทียม เตรียมประชันโฉมบนเวทีเดียวกัน ที่แรกของไทย ! (women.kapook.com)
- New pageant contest lets women and trans-women compete in beauty showdown (bangkok.coconuts.co)
- Garbage collector keeps beauty queen crown (bangkok.coconuts.co)
- Beauty to keep her prizes despite lies (nationmultimedia.com)