Saturday, August 08, 2009

Red Hot Mamma

That's what I am today. As in red sunburn and sweating in the heat. If you were thinking sexy you're in for a big letdown (unless its the breastfeeding letdown, got plenty of that still left).

It felt weird to be back in the classroom today after the holidays 'started' yesterday. Only four students in three hours, so not a terribly taxing day. I went to pick up the kids to find them refusing to go home, well no surprises there, that always happens.

I took Erica home to sleep and now I have HEAPS of things to do, but nothing pressing, so I'm ignoring it all and amusing myself HERE, making this one corner of the room cool enough to drink my cup of tea in with the air conditioner and a very noisy fan that I shall turn off in a mo.

I went to work in a cotton skirt so as not to aggravate my sunburn, and spent the rest of the day trying to hide my piebald legs. Somehow my KNEES missed getting burnt, meaning I now have red thighs, pink calves and WHITE knees. Hmm. Not a good look.

Actually I don't mind tanning, the color anyway. But I hate getting sunburnt. No brainer I suppose - after all, it HURTS. But as well as that, these days I like to stay out of the sun, and I wonder which reason is really the strongest - vanity, fear or aesthetics.

I think probably vanity ushers out the other two. I can handle ageing gracefully, but I really would like to avoid looking like a shrivelled prune. I will never forget caring for elderly women, and noticing that the age-spotted, finely wrinkled, discoloured, tissue-thin skin is concentrated on the lower legs, arms, face and neck - all the areas that saw the sun on a daily basis throughout their lives, while their backs, thighs, and tummies were often much softer and smoother. I know we all think Japanese women are mad wearing those arm sock things they wear, but there is reason behind the madness. If vanity is a good enough reason, that is.

Fear comes next. I do have moles and freckles and they do seem to grow larger, and become more raised over time. My uncle died of skin cancer. While like most people, I think of 'cancer' as some distant illness that couldn't possibly happen to me, at some level there is concern that that might be the ultimate effect.

Aesthetics comes last, perhaps because I still haven't managed to entirely convince myself that a pure white skinned body is necessarily very pretty. It's much easier to see it as potentially so in Japan, where the women in the make-up ads are all white, white, white. And I know a few Japanese women with this ultra-pale skin that they take good care of.

It's not the color so much as the care taken - the smoothness of it, the lack of discoloured areas. Much like a smooth even tan! And the evenness is key - I can appreciate the lily-white-me look much better in the half-light, when my skin tone seems more even, than in the harsh light of day, when I can see the brown arms, blotchy shoulders, veins and red patches!

I guess in the end, it's much like the perfect all-over tan - pretty much unattainable by the average flawed human. Which brings me back to skin cancer and wrinkles, and should I let myself tan now that I've got the initial summer burn out of the way, or try to stay white?


illahee said...

oh ouch! i hope your burn eases soon.

i like a 'healthy' tan, but is there such a thing these days??

Kim said...

Ahh! I have fair skin that neither tans nor really burns. Also skin cancer in the family, so I am really glad to live in Japan where "white" is "in." I got burnt in the US this summer and it ticked me off! HAHAA!