Sunny Sun Sun

Today is a sunny day (A rare sight in smoggy Beijing). I soak in the rays while walking to the subway. I throw on some shades to protect my eyes, but still relish in the warmth of Mr. Sun

Then I get smacked by an open umbrella.

There are no offending gray clouds in the sky. No scent of an incoming rainstorm.

What in the world…

Think about your last visit to Target. Most likely there was a row dedicated not only to sun block, but also to tanning oil. In the cosmetics aisles, you probably saw several types of bronzer, illuminator and body lotion that gives you a sun-kissed glow.

Here, it is the opposite. There are rows dedicated to whitening products: whitening masks, whitening creams, whitening deodorant, whitening foundation. . . You get the gist of it. The Chinese women I saw avoided the sun as if it were rain. They waited for the bus under the trees, the walked to the subway hiding under giant UV blocking umbrellas.

Maybe the influence comes from Japan and the geishas. Maybe the influence comes from South Korea. (Read here for a little more background.) Maybe this is just another current example of colorism. Fair skin is seen as youthful and/or representing success. Who has those “awful tans?” The working people. People in the streets. People in the fields. Thinking about it, this isn’t only in Beijing. Mexican soaps are another example. The rich, the successful, the elite, are portrayed with fair skin, colored eyes, and light hair. Chinese soaps seem to do the same, as do K-dramas (I’m kinda sorta a fan).

As with anything, moderation is key. Since a clear sky is a rare sight, I’ll enjoy the rays and get a much needed dose of Vitamin D.

Healthy glow!


Categories: Culture Shock | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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