There is a saying in Myanmar that “The glory of a man is his strong arms and the glory of a woman is her long black hair in a tight knot.”
However, today, not every Myanmar woman has an enough long hair to make even a small knot. Some have short hair in different hairstyles and others have long hair, but it is dyed in various colors which is a trend taken from foreign countries. Fashion and beauty trends have been changing significantly, especially among youths who can easily adopt new culture and trend.
Clothing has been the biggest change in Myanmar fashion. In the past, it is said that Myanmar girls were shy a lot to reveal their skin and they only wore longyi that cover up to their ankles. Nowadays, some girls are wearing shorts that show a lot of skin and skimpy clothes with attempt to imitate Korean and Western style. Korean television dramas also have a great influence on the Myanmar fashion trend as they elevate people’s expectation of beauty. Many Myanmar boys and girls learn the way the Korean actors and actresses dress and copy their styles.
However, Myanmar traditional dress still plays a crucial role in fashion. Compared to other ASEAN countries, the proportion of women wearing traditional dress is very high in Myanmar. Most of the university students and government officers wear Myanmar traditional dress as a regulation and tradition of the public universities and offices. Moreover, people still see beauty in the traditional costumes as they are being dressed in various designs and colours. That’s why, most of the Myanmar fashion shows display the creative designs of Myanmar traditional dress as one of the categories.
In case of beauty products, Myanmar traditional cosmetic “Thanaka” is the most widely used and popular cosmetic. Thanaka is a paste made from a bark which is rolled over a smooth surface and mixed with water until it forms a yellow paste. Then, it is applied to the face especially the cheeks. Nothing can beat thanaka because it is cheap, medicinal and easily available cosmetic in Myanmar. On the other hand, it is observed that Myanmar consumers are increasingly interested in foreign cosmetics. Myanmar now has a lot of international cosmetics brands and people become more affordable and spend money on these branded products although the proportion is still low.
Nowadays, people’s idea on beauty is also changing as they try to have more natural looks when they wear makeup or other cosmetics compared to the past when women wear too much makeup and lipstick to show beautified looks.
By Hnin Thida Nwe, ASEAN Correspondent from Myanmar