Phonetics used to refer to scooters
As part of one of the emerging economies of the Asian southeast, Vietnam is in constant growth, with almost 90 million inhabitants, 70% living in rural areas. Hanói, the capital and second most inhabited city of the country, has 6.5 million citizens and is in constant expansion. Every day during the rush hour, millions of motorcycles move from one place to another. The country has 37 million of motorbikes.
In this context, more than half of the drivers are women that cover most of their bodies with a special jacket that incorporates an extension to hide their head and hands.
There are two reasons why the drivers are fully covered: on the one hand the abundant pollution, and smoke produced by so many motorbikes; and on the other hand, sun protection.
Why they do not want to tan their skin? This attends to local beauty stereotypes. Vietnamese women have by nature a tanned skin and slanted eyes. But they want to be white. Having a white skin is synonym of a good economic status, and of working in a place where there is no sun exposure. But having dark skin is synonym of a low socioeconomic status, of having a job in rural areas or spending several hours outdoors. Thus all kinds of gadgets are created for sun protection, even skin whitening creams.
This series of portraits hides a complex social reality: the pressure to which women are subjected having to follow standards of beauty imposed by the West, including the color of their skin as a sign of social status.