Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Appreciating Pale

Today one of my adult students picked me up before class. I was wearing a knee-length skirt. The first thing she said was, "Today you look so beautiful!"

Me: "Oh thank you."

Her: "Your legs, your skin is so so so..."

Me: "White?"

Her: "Yes! So white! I hope my skin can ... be like you!"

Brother, I don't hear that often. In fact, I have A. been sunburned in late afternoon in spring in Alaska, B. endured laughter and derision several times for wearing shorts, and C. more than once, been likened to a vampire.

My high school choir (which I played piano for) took a senior trip to Hawaii. I thought I looked pretty cool in my red two-piece, strutting down the beach, until I got within shouting distance of my friends (who were, duh, laughing). "We spotted you from way over there! You're the whitest person here!"

Really, I like to be outdoors. But you would never tell from looking at me. After many, many summers of calculation and attempt - I've concluded that I just don't tan. I burn.

So what a change it was to hear someone say she wanted to look like me. My student went on to detail the pricey whitening cream she tried the previous night (to no affect).

That skin whitening stuff is everywhere here. There's a three-story drugstore near my apartment. I went looking for Theraflu once. There were whitening creams on every floor, but no Theraflu.

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