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Puathanawat, Nunnapan (revised images).pdf (26.81 MB)

The business of beauty: online beauty entrepreneurs, femininity and whiteness in Thailand

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posted on 2023-06-10, 05:47 authored by Nunnapan Puathanawat
This thesis examines the business of beauty blogging by Thai beauty influencers. Although work on beauty culture is central to understanding Thai culture in the international context, little research has examined the emergence of online beauty cultures and the digital economy of social media influencers in Thailand. Therefore, this thesis aims to make an original contribution to the field by examining the work of Thai beauty influencers who circulate social and economic capital by constructing online personas that can be commodified and monetized. The multi-method research is based on 11 semi-structured interviews and an analysis of 42 Instagram accounts. These materials are produced by Thai beauty influencers, aged between 23- 45, living in Bangkok Thailand, with between 10,000 and 1 million followers (at the time of writing). Through this combination of visual digital media analysis and semi-structured interviews, I examine the ways in which Thai beauty influencers engage in these online forms of commerce. In doing so, I explore how they have come to work and collaborate with brands in ways that balance tensions between managing their self-representation as authentic and the demands of sponsors. I argue that beauty blogging and its associated practices embody a form of mediated entrepreneurism, through practices of negotiating and collaborating with brands on social media platforms (such as Instagram). These Thai beauty influencers have challenged traditional representations of femininity in Thai public discourse, through practices of creating online beautyrelated content and engaging with brands. These practices have enabled them to develop brand identities, which embody independence and strength, and challenge assumptions. The construction of successful brand identities has become an integral part of adapting to modern ways of life, offering a range of possible femininities in the emerging phenomenon of the Thai online beauty industry. In particular, I identify and focus on the labour practices involved. Thai beauty influencers have come to engage and collaborate with beauty brands that allow them to establish forms of business. I argue that these online forms of labour are premised on the enactment of productive creativities that are particularly concerned with bodily displays and the constant negotiations of constructing beauty practices. The analysis also focuses on the integration of discourses of beauty, which incorporates how the idea of authenticity and whiteness play out in the Thai context. The analysis seeks to identify how Thai beauty influencers discuss these ideas that contribute to further our understanding of the discourses of beauty. Specifically, this thesis examines how these sets of practices have been constructed and whether they inform, negotiate, and shape the changing trends of beauty and our ideas about femininity and whiteness within the Thai digital economy.


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  • Media and Film Theses

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  • doctoral

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  • eng


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