Sunday, July 12, 2009

Burn, Baby, Burn!

My children are turning nut brown in the summer sun. I guess swimming twice a day will do that to you.

But I'm still culture-shocking over the fact that here in America brown is beautiful.

In China, all the beauty commercials advertise how white their products will make your skin. I remember seeing one commercial where the model was so sickly pale she looked dead. Absolutely colorless. White as a bleached sheet.

There, whale-belly white is beautiful.

Here, on the other hand, they're advertising spray-on tans. Just call the 800 number on your TV screen and you too can have this gorgeous dark tan, the equivalent of forty hours in the sun ... and everybody knows how a nice tan makes you look slimmer too.

Excuse me while I choke on my bean burrito.

The mechanism used to apply this tan looks akin to those used for spraying fertilizer on plants. The Caucasian models look so happy standing around in bikinis, spraying themselves and their partners with fake tan.

Funny, those Chinese models looked just as happy lubricating themselves with whitening lotion.

Aren't we people a funny, discontented bunch?

But historically, we waiguorens (foreigners) have liked pale skin too. Isn't that where the term "blue blood" came from: having skin so transparent and white that you could see the blue veins through it? A sign of royalty!

Brown only became beautiful in the west when going on vacation to or even living in tropical locations became something only the rich could afford to do. The poor had moved mostly out of the fields and into office buildings. In office buildings and factories you grow sickly pale. If you're rich, you're on a Caribbean beach somewhere, soaking in sun.

In China, the poor are still out in the fields. Being brown still means menial outdoor labor more than sunny beach living. There are more offices now, more factories, but brown still is definitely not beautiful. If you're brown you're a country bumpkin.

So, here we are in our one-hundred degree weather, blue sky and burning sun, finding relief in the backyard pool. And becoming more small-town bumpkin every day, apparently.

2 comments:

  1. looks like the children are out to have the same approach as me. i've been swimming almost everyday this past summer and it's been great. i was going to call you today but i complete forgot. maybe tomorrow you'll hear from me.

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  2. I like your perspective; I was wondering why the change in popularity from white to brown.

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