11 July 2024

If there’s no such thing as bad publicity, then someone forgot to tell the transgender influencer who posted a controversial clip promoting e-commerce giant Lazada.

Known by the handle “Nara Crepe Katoey”, influencer Aniwat Prathumthin has remained defiant in the face of the storm of protest whipped up by her creation.

The TikTok clip and photos promoting Lazada’s 5.5 sales day were deemed by some people to be offensive to the Thai monarchy as well as disabled people. Lazada, the Southeast Asian arm of China’s Alibaba Group Holdings, quickly removed the ad and issued a public apology.

However, the young influencer responsible has shown little sign of remorse.

Meanwhile, a slew of Thai brands has cut ties with Lazada while the Army has boycotted the shopping platform.

Nara however has shrugged off the controversy and denied any intention to insult or bully anybody. “But what I did does not cause trouble to anyone,” she complained. “Those who say you are banning the app, I know you are not really app users.”

She agreed to pull the clip off social media, but on the condition that she and her team were paid for producing it.

Self-made transgender

Given the name Aniwat “Earth” Prathumthin at birth, the 23-year-old has rechristened herself Nara. She was mainly brought up by her mother after her parents divorced when she was a child. Nara attended Joseph Ayutthaya School before graduating from Ayutthaya Technological Commercial College with a diploma.

She underwent cosmetic surgery in her teens – getting a nose job, eyelid creases and more. Nara said at age 17 she underwent breast augmentation.

After graduating, she jumped between jobs before setting up a small streetside stall in Ayutthaya selling crepes. Her humorous banter with customers and funny clips posted online soon made her an internet celebrity.

After her Facebook account attracted a huge following, she was approached by companies to review their products. Nara’s popularity on the net grew, enabling her to give up the crepe stall while keeping the name it inspired.

With income no longer a problem, she decided to get herself a degree and joined Bangkok University’s School of Communication Arts.

Her celebrity status also meant she could launch her own brand and start offering products for sale. Nara now has more than 1.8 million Facebook followers.

Scandals and controversy

Nara freely admits that she is not the “typical good girl”. She recalls tricking her mother out of money as a youngster and using it to treat her boyfriend. She has also reportedly suffered debt trouble.

While fame has helped her repay her loans and support her family, it seemingly hasn’t quenched her appetite for controversy.

Last year, she found herself in legal trouble after releasing clips promoting a gambling website in May and June. The court found her guilty but handed her a suspended jail sentence as she had no previous convictions.

Just three months later, Enwei Group filed a complaint that Nara was selling fake medicines.

Political stance

Nara has won followers among youngsters fed up with General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s style of governance. She has openly pushed for the PM’s resignation and often criticized his supporters.

Last month, she claimed she was ordered by officials at an Army conscription center to change her shirt – which was adorned with a picture of Prayut’s face and the sarcastic slogan “Answering the call of duty for a chance to become PM”. The Army denied her claim.

Untroubled by criticism

Nara has shrugged off the criticism and continues to produce more clips, including product promotions and chats with fans.

And as if to prove she has nothing against the disabled, she donated 100,000 baht to the Saraburi Center for Disabled Persons last week.

By Thai PBS World’s General Desk