A Very Embarrassing Cambodian Photoshoot

In which Kanya and I go get Cambodian glamor shots…

All the girls in Kanya’s family have Cambodian glamor shots.  They look like beautiful Khmer dolls, pale lily-white and heavily made-up.  We naturally had to go get our own done.  It was quite the experience.  We get to the studio as a bride is finishing getting her hair and makeup done.  It’s shoveled on and I watch nervously as they keep adding more.  The room has a makeup stool in front of a large mirror, and all four walls have built in shelving and closet rods.  They are full of brightly colored costumes, and high up on the wall are pictures of the costumes you can pick from.  They have elaborate bridal gowns, traditional Khmer dancers, a kind of Indian princess, a belly dancer, and more.  Kanya opts for the traditional Khmer dancer and I end up as a princess maybe?  I’m not sure.  Going to go for that.

Soon it’s our turn for makeup and they pull out a huge bottle of foundation and a filthy sponge and start slathering it on me.  It’s the same foundation they used for the previous girl and for Kanya, who are both several shades darker than me.  It goes on orange.  They then do some very aggressive contouring.  Next is two sets of false eyelashes, one at my lashline and one about a quarter inch above, accompanied by some very dark eye makeup.  Last is several coats of a hot pink super-shiny lipgloss.  I’ve never worn so much makeup in my life and I can’t move my face without it hurting my eyelashes.  I look like a drag queen.

They then start on my hair, chattering in Cambodian that I can’t understand.  Kanya helpfully tells me they are trying to figure out how to make my ears not stick out.  They try weighting them down with heavy earrings, but that doesn’t work.  We finally settle on a large headpiece.  I think it makes my ears stick out more, but at least it’s distracting.

Once we are all made up, we head into the photography studio to get our pictures taken.  The photographer clearly does this a lot and positions us very specifically, down to our finger placement.  We look hilarious.

Later we get our edited photos and we look nothing like ourselves.  I had them give us the digital originals, and in them you can distinctly see our makeup, and our skin is much darker.  In the edited ones we are both milky pale, but we look very dignified.

The whole experience may have been my favorite thing in Cambodia, it was so unique and funny, and the pictures are priceless.

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