As the temperature rises here in Shanghai, the amount of clothing being worn by foreigners visiting the Expo dwindles. Long pants become shorts, t-shirts become tank tops, and faces look skyward to soak up the sun. Yet as foreigners’ clothing shrinks, the Chinese start donning more and more. Long sleeves, hats, and sun parasols come into existence. These higher temperatures emphasize a stark difference between Asian and Western cultures- the concept of beauty regarding skin color.
In America, we regard darker, tanner skin as “sexy.” We lay out motionless for hours in the sunlight soaking up UVA and UVB in hopes of a darker exterior. In China on the other hand, men and women hide beneath their umbrellas in fear of losing their beautiful white skin. Americans go to tanning beds, spray tan, and buy lotions that promise a gradual tan. Chinese purchase facial lotions with bleaching components.
I find it scary that they use facial lotions with bleach in them, but then again, we* (not me personally) use tanning beds, which are also extremely unnatural. At least their attitude towards the sun is healthier- they are always well covered when in the sun, perhaps even to an extreme. My favorite parts of the Chinese skin-protecting ensemble would be the detachable sun sleeves and the facial visors. No, not ordinary long sleeves or the usual visor…these are slip-on sleeves and full face-covering visors for when biking around the city to protect pretty white arms. If detachable sleeves aren’t available, you can make do with swathing your limbs in extra fabrics or wearing a long-sleeve button-down shirt backwards. Makeshift facial visors include shirts clipped around the neck or wash cloths balanced on the head, cheap and effective! While not the most attractive of looks, these darkly tinted facial visors and arm-length sleeves do serve their purpose and keep the wearer extremely white and thus, in China, extremely beautiful.