Emmy Boonsakulcharoen is a filmmaker and content creator, based in Thailand. She is passionate about promoting body positivity that encourages young women and girls to love and accept themselves and their bodies. In the wake of COVID-19, she is working on a mental health project, Unknown Together, which is the joint project between Facebook, the United Nations and Love Frankie. The Unknown Together raises awareness of people on mental health issues, caused by the COVID-19. Also, Emmy is one of the founding members of Dragonfly 360. She served as the Creative Director of Dragonfly 360 until mid-2020. Emmy co-founded an inclusivity movement in Asia, Not My Standard, which will launch September 2020. #NotMyStandard is a new collective movement launching in Thailand to showcase that there is more than one standard of beauty you usually see–skinny, white, and flawless.
[Below are some highlights from the interview that are edited for clarity.]
Motivation to Work on Mental Health
Emmy: On a personal level, I suffer from a mental health issue. I have OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder). It is a mile OCD, but it encroaches in my life in a way that I don’t expect it. I’ve also been around people with mental health issues. Then, I realise how common it is, especially with our generation and the generation after us. The generation before us may have suffered from it, but they were afraid to speak out about it. I think that mental health has been so stigmatised. To a certain degree, everyone experiences difficulty with their emotion and with their mental health. Throughout working on other human rights projects, I feel that if we don’t change at the individual level, we won’t be able to change the policy or systemic level.
Meaning of Beautiful
Emmy: A big issue that I have seen is the lack of body positivity. This is something that I may familiar with, especially in Asia. I feel that this issue is not taken off in Asia. We still have the ideal notion of what beauty looks like, such as pale skin, skinny, big eyes. This is the very stereotypical Asian beauty that we still see today.
Then, I decided to be a boxing instructor because I want to empower women that they don’t have to be skinny to be beautiful. Their value should not place on how they look or how skinny they are, but rather how healthy and how happy they are. When I was an instructor, whenever I asked what your fitness goal was, most girls would answer I wanted to be skinny or I want to reach a certain number on the scales. Being able to shift their mindset from reaching their desirable weight to desirable healthiness, that is why I became a boxing instructor.
I am starting an Instagram account as well, called Not My Standard. This is one of the topics that I am really passionate about. It came from my personal experience. I don’t have a petite body. I was in the entertainment business before. I would be called fat constantly throughout my life. I started this Instagram account as a collective movement launching in Thailand to showcase that more than one standard you can see. I don’t want Asian women to lean on one type of beauty. This can cause mental health issues which is quite prevalence in Asia.
Emmy: For girls, you should remember that your beauty is not the only your value. The society may tell you that your beauty is the biggest asset, but it is not. It is one of your assets. I am not going against makeup or dressing up—go ahead with addressing up and wearing makeup. Just remember that it is not the only asset. You should collect as many experiences as possible. Don’t stress too much about what career path you are going to end up with or which jobs you are going to end up with. Try to collect many experiences and skills as possible. Once you have done that, you will have the tools to choose your career path and to choose your job when the option is available.