Visiting Myanmar this past February, my group travelled from remote villages further west toward the Bangladesh border to visit two villages containing the last generation of women having fully tattooed faces. Sixty years ago the King of Burma would travel or send emissaries to choose the most attractive pre-teen women and bring them back to the capital to become concubines in his royal palace. To dissuade him from taking their children, the villages
tattooed their daughters’ faces to make them unattractive to the King. It was a privilege to meet these lovely, gracious sixty-year olds, to be welcomed to their village and to share tea with them.
The thought of intentionally disfiguring one’s own child, to fully tattoo her face with no anesthesia is mouth-gapingly unimaginable to those of us fortunate to live in the Western world. It served as a reminder for me to hug my own daughters, to acknowledge how blessed we are in our own lives and to better appreciate how travel elevates us all in our awareness of the world around us.