It’s my birthday and I want to feel like a queen! And oh, I will today!!
When I wake up the bath is filled and sprinkled with flower peddles, some fruit is prepared as a breakfast-appetizer and my friend has a big smile on her face. O yeah, today I will get spoiled! Breakfast is turned into a cake party with the staff singing Happy Birthday while I wear my inflatable, plastic crown with pride.
As in Belgium, important life events are captured in pictures and if it is really, really important in a photo-shoot. We would get dressed up a bit, and put a bit more time in our hair and makeup to look a bit nicer than normal. In this sleepy, colonial town – and actually across the country – these photo-shoots are taken to a whole new level! At least for us…
After we paid for our shoot, we get escorted to the room behind the store, where a lady-boy is ready to transform us. It starts with picking out our favorite outfits: the yellow ballgown with bling or the emerald dress with open shoulders? My friend can chose more than me… I am to “big” to fit into half of them. Well ok, less choices to make.
And then she/he attacks me with tons of foundation, sticks something onto my eyelids so my eyes are even bigger than normal, adds eyelashes, draws black lines under and above my eyes, colors my eyebrows heavily, puts some hair-extensions in my bun, drapes some excessive (fake) jewelry around my neck and as the final touch I get a tiara.
I have a big smile on my face, I look like a princess! I love this treatment! I look at my friend and see on her face that her anxiety is growing with the minute “Are they going to make my eyebrows as black as yours?!?!?” She is blonde, has light eyebrows, is used to her own nice and soft way of putting on make up, and starts to feel really uneasy as she fears she will not be herself anymore. Too late!
I am pushed into the next room for my dress-fitting, while she/he throws her/himself on probably the first and only blonde lady she/he will ever get her/his hands on for a make over.
The dresses have straps in the back and I am fastened into the dress like a sausage. With a half open back and a royal look in the front, I am shown to yet another room with a photographer. It doesn’t look like a palace here, the background is somewhat white and only a few attributes give a hint of luxury. Huh? How will they pull off the royal, bling pictures then? Then I remembered a couple of young guys behind laptops in the shop. Ah… photoshop…
The photographer looks at me and tells me what to do… I think. I stare at him like a cow at a passing train, so he turns and twists my arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, head and shoulders in position. “Smile!” This is a work out! i can’t breathe! When he is happy, I hear an approving “hmmm” and “click click click” of the camera. And off I go for my next outfit. Breathe out….
And… repeat for about 3 hours. I love every second of it! What a great way to spend the morning, a birthday. My friend is startled and confused by the make-over, but I have the biggest smile ever on my face.
Later that evening I send a message to my boss: “I regret to inform you” is the header, and continues “… I have been offered a position”. Immediate response, I could even hear him stop breathing… until he reads the remainder of the message “… by the Cambodian Royal Family” and sees the over-the-top picture I attached.