‘Maybe a Race Thing?’: Black New Yorker says she was kicked out of Bangkok makeup counter, assaulted

Photos: Courtesy of Zya Mo
Photos: Courtesy of Zya Mo

UPDATE: As of Sept. 6, Makeup Forever Singapore responded to Coconuts Bangkok in a statement saying that the employee in the video has been suspended pending an investigation.

An American expat said she was kicked out of a makeup counter and “physically assaulted” by a salesperson at Terminal 21 shopping mall on Sunday, part of what she termed “a growing trend of black expat women being assaulted in Thailand.”

Zya Mo, from New York, shared a clip of a Thai man she identified as a beauty assistant from the brand Makeup Forever, knocking her phone down when she tried to make a video about her bad experience at the shop.


Mo told Coconuts Bangkok she had initially stopped by the Makeup Forever kiosk at Terminal 21 about a week ago to try out lipsticks, but did not buy one at the time. On Sunday, she went back with the intention of making a purchase.

“I was trying to choose between two similar shades as I didn’t quite remember which one I liked. The guy at the counter was there the previous week and frankly not very helpful,” she said.

According to Mo, as she tried on products and attempted to make up her mind, the salesman suddenly announced, “You’ve been here twice” and ordered her to leave.

“Then he proceeded to tell me in broken English to buy the used lipgloss. Of course, I refused, and he told me to get out. I refused [to leave] and since he kept insisting and being rude — I decided to record his behavior, as it was horrible,” she said.

“And yes, I was angry at that point.”

In the video, the salesperson can be seen aggressively slapping the phone out of Mo’s hand.

When Coconuts asked Mo why the salesperson had attempted to sell her “the used lipgloss,” she agreed it might have been a language barrier. (Ed: Speaking as Thais, we think there’s at least a possibility that the salesperson may have been trying to suggest that Mo “buy the product she regularly uses,” prompting a miscommunication.)

That said, it wouldn’t justify the action she claims followed.

“He grabbed my phone. I grabbed it back, and he said ‘I’m going to get security’ and I said ‘go ahead and get them’ as I knew I had done nothing wrong,” she said, adding that that was the point she decided to begin filming the encounter.

Mo said that after security got involved, she decided to leave and post the video on both Facebook and Instagram, calling out Makeup Forever publicly.

She has received no response thus far, she told us today.

While Mo said she has not personally experienced this sort of incident before in Thailand and said she still loves the country, she couldn’t help but think her skin color played a role in her treatment.

“This country has been amazing and the people are beyond lovely. I was in shock. Honestly, [I] still am.”

“I think he may be a bit off. Maybe a race thing? Maybe he didn’t want to work? Not sure. I know he didn’t want this to be reported and was seriously trying to grab my phone by any means necessary,” she said.

Coconuts Bangkok has reached out to Makeup Forever and will update the story when they respond.


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