BANGKOK – Whether she is perched at the back of a water truck, gingerly plucking weeds with her manicured nails or staring down a stray dog on the streets, Ms Pattaramon Thocharoen is always camera-ready with a full face of make-up and several poses.
Also known as “Bow”, the 27-year-old has an image to upkeep with over 300,000 TikTok followers, some of whom have dubbed her Thailand’s “most beautiful street sweeper”.
“People have criticised me for wearing make-up in my profession, but why can’t I look pretty while doing hard work? It’s for my own satisfaction,” the mother of two sons, aged nine and six, told The Straits Times.
Ms Pattaramon’s videos are often lighthearted, showing her dancing or reacting to unusual or funny encounters in her day-to-day work – for example hunting for her missing broom, or touching up her make-up excitedly after learning that she will be stationed near an army camp for the day.
She shot to fame in the last year for the short video clips she posts on TikTok, and is famous for one video in particular where she rants about an older woman who criticised her for dolling up because Ms Pattaramon was “just a street sweeper”.
“So I said, the goal of (my) life is to be beautiful… We have to make ourselves as happy as possible,” said Ms Pattaramon in the clip that has had over 3.7 million views.
“This was the profession that my parents did to raise me, so I’m proud of it,” said Ms Pattaramon whose mother was a street sweeper and father a garbage truck driver. Both are retired.
The contrast between her daily tasks, which include collecting rubbish and scrubbing the asphalt, and her glamorous appearance is somewhat stark. But this has allowed her to grow not just her following, but her wages as well.
She earns about 12,000 baht (S$460) a month as a street cleaner in the Chom Thong district under the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority. However, she can bring in 50,000 baht a month from her social media engagements, such as brand reviews, product sales and virtual TikTok Gifts, which are given by followers and can be converted to cash.
“Now I’m more financially stable. I’m able to spend more on small things like choosing express delivery when shopping online or having nice meals with my family,” said Ms Pattaramon who lives in Bangkok with 10 other family members, including her children and parents.
With the rise of what some experts term “working-class” influencers, low-wage earners like Ms Pattaramon have found an avenue to supplement their earnings by giving others a peek into their daily lives on social media.
This emerging group of content creators include farmers, bus conductors and electricians working on Thailand’s infamous entangled network of overhead power lines, and are a far cry from the role typically associated with wealthy, already-famous or well-connected individuals.
Several digital marketing agencies such as Platform Group have picked up on the rising trend of the “blue-collar” or “ordinary” influencer. The agency currently manages about 500 such content creators, which include housewives, security officers, teachers and factory workers, spread across Thai cities and the countryside.
https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/thailand-s-most-beautiful-road-sweeper-brushes-off-criticism-and-defies-stereotypes Thailand’s ‘most beautiful’ road sweeper brushes off criticism and defies stereotypes