A photo showing the touching moment that a Thai beauty queen, 17-year-old Khanittha “Mint” Phasaeng, knelt in front of her “rubbish-collecting mother” standing next to a row of trash bins has gone viral online and inspired millions across the globe.
The young beauty queen, who won the title of Miss Uncensored News Thailand in September 2015, returned to her hometown after she won the beauty contest to honor her mother who raised her.
The heartwarming photo shows Mint on all fours — wearing her crown, a silk sash and heels — thanking her mother, who raised her alone with patient care, dedication, and hard work with the little money she made from collecting and recycling trash.
The photo showing the glamorous beauty queen kneeling humbly before her mother went viral online in Thailand, Asia, and the rest of the world after it was posted on Facebook.
Mint honored her mother in the traditional way that Asian children show respect and gratitude to their parents and elder relatives.
Mint’s friends had encouraged her to take part in the beauty contest open to young women and transgender people. She followed her friends’ advice reluctantly because she never thought she could win the competition.
“When the referee announced the winner it felt like a dream. I thought how an ordinary girl like me can be a beauty queen.”
Mint was raised in poverty. She stopped her education after high school because her mother, who divorced Mint’s father many years ago and remarried, simply could not afford to send her daughter to college, according to Bangkok Post.
But Mint says that she has never felt embarrassment or shame about her humble origins.
Bangkok Post reports she said, “I am very proud of it. It [rubbish collection] is an honest profession. I grew up having enough to eat, was able to finish high school because my rubbish-collecting mother supported me.”
She told Thai Rath Online that although the few hundred baht her family earns from selling rubbish would seem like nothing to others, “every single baht that we earn is precious.”
“It is probably not much for other people but for my mother and I, every single baht that we earn is precious.”
Mint, who plans to continue her education as soon as she saves enough money, says what she has accomplished was due to her mother’s hard work and unwavering commitment over the years.
“What I have today is because of my mother. She and I make a living by doing honest work, so there is no reason why I should feel inferior.”
According to the Chinese People’s Daily, even after winning the prestigious title of Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015, Mint returned to her hometown and continued helping her mother do menial jobs.
“The family will continue to be scavengers,” she said. “My mother will still go and sort garbage and is not willing to let me help.”
But the family’s living conditions are bound to improve greatly after Mint won the prestigious beauty contest. She has secured lucrative advertising, film and television contracts, according to the Daily Mail, and with her new status as a public figure, other opportunities are bound to come her way.
Several photos of the beauty queen have surfaced online. One shows Mint in everyday clothes helping her mother sort rubbish collected from trash cans. Another shows the tall and slim beauty standing inside her modest home in Thailand wearing her crown and silk sash.
Yet another shows the proud mother hugging her daughter.
[Images via Feel 96.5 Rayong/Facebook]