Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fashionably White - Part II

Just after posting my last blog post--Fashionably White--about a lovely dress on top of the Great Wall, I realized the title could have also referred to another recent experience.

Last week I went to a Watsons pharmacy (my new CVS or Kruitvat) to buy some sunscreen, only to discover that all the products on the shelves included "whitening." It's just funny; I seem to remember that my entire life (though I am only 21) I've only seen products that have prided themselves on the fact that you could get such a nice tan with them. Heck, you could even buy products that give you a tan, even if you don't see the sun. And here--in China--everything seems to want to make me white.

I of course immediately did some extensive research (Google), and learned that some Asians indeed have a preference for fair skin. As soon as the sun comes out, many pop open their little sun umbrellas and put on some protective whitening cream. For historical reasons and over time, lighter skin has become associated with people of a higher class. The thinking is that if you are light and pale, it shows you have enough money to stay inside, letting other people do the hard work outside in the sun.

(You might be interested in this article about China's new faces or this BBC article about skin lightening products.)

It kind of feels to me like that book from Dr. Seuss about the star-belly and plain-belly sneetches, who both definitely want what the other one has (a star or no-star), no matter what that is.

Since I've never had a tan, even when I tried, this is going to be a very easy summer.

In het Nederlands: Een weekje terug was ik in een drogisterij (overigens is deze Watsons in het zelfde concern als Kruidvat--dus het blijft in de familie) en kwam erachter dat alle zonnebrandprodukten erop gericht waren me zo wit mogelijk te houden. "Whitening" zit erin. Die melkflessen van mij hebben geen whitening nodig, dus ik heb het spul maar op de schappen laten liggen, maar het is natuurlijk wel interessant dat we allemaal zo druk bezig zijn om net weer een ander huidskleurtje te krijgen dan wat we hebben.

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