A tourist has sparked outrage among locals in Bali after being pictured wearing a thong-style bikini while doing her shopping.
An image of the unidentified woman was posted on the Bali Expats Facebook group; a page typically used to share information among non-natives living on the island.
It’s unclear who took the photo, but the post appeared to have no purpose other than to shame the woman for her choice of clothing. The image showed the blonde tourist, pictured from behind, standing at a supermarket counter in a small, black bikini that showed off her bum.
The tourist is said to have been shopping in Pepito Umalas, which the poster described as a ‘family residential area’ – a setting which made her bikini all the more controversial.
Alongside the photo, the Facebook user wrote:
I’m amazed that Pepito Umalas, a family residential area allowed this shopper into the store??? And that this person thinks it’s acceptable!!!
Shame on both of you!! Ps the front parts were even smaller than the back
Another angry local commented:
I just would like to know if she wears like this [sic] when she goes shopping in [her] home town. If not why she is thinking that would be normal as a tourist in Bali.
See the picture below:
Many social media users argued the woman showed a lack of ‘cultural sensitivity’, with one saying she has ‘no respect’ for the locals.
It’s easy to understand why some viewers are confused, or even annoyed, at the woman’s bikini – it’s true you’d be unlikely to wear the same thing to a supermarket in the UK, for example, and it would be considerate for tourists to do research into what’s considered acceptable in a region before they go there.
We're regulars to Bali and have many Balinese friends there who find this very shameful. Have a bit of respect and read up on local customs etc. They are such beautiful people. Would you really go to your local shop at home in this attire?
— Marcia the Pom (@Marcialynn1950) October 30, 2019
However, Bali is a tourist-heavy destination and in the warm weather I’m sure there are lots of people who walk around in minimal clothing. That’s definitely not to say the locals should just accept it, but as the poster pointed out, the tourist was clearly allowed into the store without an employee arguing against it.
If people in the supermarket had a problem with the woman’s clothing, they should have pulled her aside for a respectful chat to help her realise she was making some people uncomfortable – not taken a photo and shared it online where strangers can shame her, while leaving the woman in question oblivious.
Some people stuck up for the woman on Facebook, with one commenting:
I get the point about respecting cultures but there’s also respect for other people and taking a photo of someone and posting it online seeking to publicly shame the person is pretty low… and lacks respect.
Culture clash… perhaps a friendly tap on the shoulder and explain rather than this? Educate don’t hate.
Slamming someone indirectly on social media isn’t going to help anyone; tourists may not be aware of what’s considered acceptable and so locals should be courteous and educate them, rather than leave them to become a target of ridicule.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.