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Tall beauty,high hopes

New Miss Thailand Universe Farung Yuthithum shows poise beyond her 19 years

Upon winning the Miss Thailand Universe crown late last month, 19-year-old Farung Yuthithum was quickly categorised as the tallest as well as the fairest of the contestants. She was also the quietest.

With the culmination of the pageant on March 24, Farung was swept into the media whirlpool. Tiara tottering on her tresses, she was interviewed for TV until 4am. At the family home in Pathum Thani, a press scrum was already in progress.

But the smile never left Farung's face.

Already fatigued by the usual shortage of sleep during the pageant, she's got more tough days and weeks ahead before the world's most publicised beauty contest gets underway.

To begin with, she has to get used to her beauty being scrutinised everywhere she goes - and to the occasional cutting remarks: Is that perfectly pointed chin a surgeon's work? Doesn't she resemble some of the better looking, gender-bending Miss Tiffanys?

With such signals that she might not be the people's favourite, Farung still manages to stay poised. On a visit to The Nation, she's not only elegant and graceful but thoughtful too. She's inherited two virtues from her mother: prudence and tolerance.

"I look at it in a more optimistic way," she says of the public sniping. "I'm glad they think my face is perfectly proportioned! My mother has sharp cheekbones like me.

"I'm not against surgery, though. If it makes you happy and others happy, then it's okay, but it's not like everyone needs it."

What about the murmurings of masculinity?

If you see male characteristics in the snow-white beauty, they must come from her father, Farley, the deputy director of a provincial prison. Having seen plenty of troubled youth, he has always encouraged her to be a leader so that she can help others in need.

Her femininity comes courtesy of her mother, Prayoonsri, who was twice a beauty contestant herself.

"I've always liked dressing up like my mother. She made me want to enter beauty pageants," says Farung, who previously tried out for the Miss University League and Miss Teen Thailand titles.

Is she worried about scandal befalling her, as it has other Thai beauty queens - perhaps a gown deemed too revealing or a date with the "wrong" guy?

"I'm not afraid," she says, "because I always behave properly."

What about that supersize height? Farung drank milk every day as a child and still eats a particular kind of fish that has lots of protein. She rode her bicycle to and from school all the time and shot up to 179 centimetres - five foot 10 - making her the tallest-ever Miss Thailand Universe.

Her stature will help in the Miss Universe pageant, but how does she rate her chances of winning that title too?

Farung says she'll give it 100 per cent. She has a month of intensive training ahead and enough time to perfect her appearance. She's already lightened her black hair to a dark brown, which makes her seem more feminine.

Well apart from the looks department, Farung is a third-year student of applied liberal arts at Rajamangala University of Technology in Thanyaburi. She's majoring in English and hopes one day to be one of the country's ambassadors.

"I like English a lot, and talking to people. Being an ambassador would be a great honour because I could represent Thailand."

Her favourite sport is swimming, and Farung has musical talent besides - she teaches youngsters to play the piano.

With so much going for her - especially her height - the stars certainly seem within reach.

Lisnaree Vichitsorasatra

The Nation

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