Betelnut beauty exhibition opening

Betelnut Beauty photo exhibition opening -- Tobie Openshaw and Xiao Juan

Tobie Openshaw and Xiao Juan (小娟) at the opening of the exhibition

This afternoon I went to the opening of an exhibition of photos by Tobie Openshaw. The exhibition entitled "Betelnut Beauty" features photos by Tobie of betel nut girls in Taoyuan and Xinzhu. You can see some of Tobie's photos at flickr, however I suggest visiting the exhibition if you get the chance. The photos look much brighter and detailed as large prints and make a much greater impact. 

Tobie spoke about his reasons for putting on the exhibition. He has been photographing betel nut girls for about seven years and sees it is a unique part of life in Taiwan that couldn't exist anywhere else in the world. He originally tried to produce a documentary about the girls. He pitched it to National Geographic twice and they knocked it back. The reason? Because there weren't any unhappy betel nut girls!

Tobie also said that most people in Taiwan have already made up their minds about betel nut girls. Many people think of them as "bad girls". Through his photos he hopes to show the character and personality of the girls. 

Betenut girl Ada -- photo by Tobie Openshaw

Ada, the betel nut girl in one of Tobie's photos on the left, was unable to attend the exhibition because of a motorcycle accident. Her friend Xiao Juan (in the photo at the top) attended in her place. I tried to talk to her, but she was very shy. I didn't learn much about her except that she was from Taoyuan and had worked as a betel nut girl for five or six years. 

* * * * *

The exhibition runs until 8 March. Full details of when and where are below. 

Hung Chong Gallery
396-1 Ren-ai Road Section 4 Taipei
10:00am — 6:00pm
February 24 — March 8, 2007

恆昶藝廊
台北市仁愛路四段396-1號一樓
十點至十八點
二月24日至三月8日

8 thoughts on “Betelnut beauty exhibition opening

  1. “He originally tried to produce a documentary about the girls. He pitched it to National Geographic twice and they knocked it back. The reason? Because there weren’t any unhappy betel nut girls!” IS this the real reason why he was knocked back? Unbelievable!!!

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  3. The girl in the picture is not a real betelnut beauty in Taipei. A real one will dress more fewer, even only underware. 🙂

  4. Leo – you need to get out more. There ARE no betelnut girls in Taipei city (well – hardly any) they were banned there. They way they dress is very different in different parts of the country. Down South you will see girls dressed in underwear only, but in the Taoyuan/Nankan area (where these pictures were taken) the girls have a dress code. Come and see for yourself anytime.
    Tobie Openshaw

  5. Well – that’s a great oversimplification, of course … but yes, the majority of the girls we interviewed were no more discontented with their job that the average office worker. And on the face iof it, a bunch of happy workers doesn’t sound like they would make for “good television”. But – we are still pursuing funding to complete our film. And we WILL make it interesting 🙂

    Tobie Openshaw

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