One of the most asked questions is “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. But nobody ever asks the youth, “what do you want to be now?”
From kindergarten to university, Thai students wear school uniform for 22 years. There are school rules applied to hair style, outfit, socks and shoes. Thai student uniform represents unity, hegemony, hierarchical, class distinction, and patronage. Some uniform has a name and student ID number on its shirt.
Students are required to dress in the school uniform according to their biological sex— male and female. Most public schools still have a strict policy on dress code. Male students are required to have military hair style while female students are required to have a bob or have their hair tied at all time. In high school, many male students participate in the Reserve Officer Training Cops Student (ROTCS) which they have to be trained by the soldiers and follow by their rule.
For a young Thai who was born as male but not identify as one or live up to the norm of masculinity, they are forced to embrace the male uniform by wearing a white shirt with shorts and a military hairstyle for all their youth.
“7465” represents the hidden identify of youth that was forced from being freely expressed. Under the uniformity, they tried to be themselves as much as possible. “7465” is not just a student number sewed on their uniform, but also a fight for their own identification. ‘Young, free and being me’ is what they want to be
This project was made possible through the support of the Goethe-Institut, Ostkreuz Agentur der Fotografen and OBSCURA Festival through the Southeast Asian Photographers' Masterclass 2017. An exhibition was held in Penang last August coincided with 'We Will Have Been Young' book launch, designed and published by Dienacht Magazine (book is available for purchase online). See the book preview via the video below.