My ‘White Girl Goes to Thailand’ Pants

Packing for a trip is always tricky. Despite having ample room in our spacious Osprey backpacks, I had to be smart about what I was bringing, especially considering I was coming from a cold November in Canada.

So before leaving on this trip, I packed what I thought were a couple cute, comfortable pieces. I didn’t want to stand out too much as a tourist (though our cameras would definitely give it away), but I also wanted to be comfortable and stylish.

Piece #1: Pastel-coloured yoga pants with large elephant prints on the thighs. Convenient, cute and trendy, I thought. People seemed to compliment me on them back home.

Piece #2: My baggy hippy pants. This piece also doubles as a one-piece, which is super cool. I bought it at an artisan boutique up north from my hometown. This also has a kind of pastel, tribal print on it with—you guessed it—elephants again. Super-soft fabric, unique and versatile—a winning combo for Thailand!

thai stereotypical tourist pants

Elephant-patterned pants are inescapable in Thailand. (Outpost/Michael Fraiman)

Now, a tiny part of me thought, “Okay, these are totally stereotypical ‘white girl goes to Thailand’ pants.” But I didn’t dwell too long on the thought and packed them anyway.

Arriving to Thailand, I immediately regretted my choices. Literally every street corner in every town had a vendor selling racks and racks of these exact fashions—countless soft fabrics, countless baggy fits, countless elephants. Shirts, shorts, leggings and baggy hippy pants, all marked with Thailand’s iconic national animal.

Even worse, I soon realized that no locals actually wore these types of clothes. None of them—not even one. Most of the locals dressed very casually in shorts and plain tees. What I’d thought were good choices for blending in turned out to blend me only with other travellers—my fellow millennial white girls sporting elephants on our comfortable legs.

I sighed deeply when this realization dawned on me. But then again, the outfit made sense—I was, after all, a white girl in Thailand. And with my bright red hair and a film crew following us around, I was bound to stick out anyway, elephant pants or not.

Besides, at least I was dressed comfortably.

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