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Keep the Skin White at All Expense

VIETNAM | Thursday, 12 July 2007 | Views [2720]

You certainly won't find us suiting up in jeans, socks with flip-flops, long-sleeve shirts, arms length gloves, jacket, rice hat and face mask in the extreme heat and humidity here in Vietnam.  This is a common outfit, among local women that we've seen all over Vietnam.  I sweat just looking at them wearing all those clothes.   Porcelain white skin is in, and the Vietnamese women go to extremes to keep any potential tanning rays off their skin.  The women in the shops here look at me, bewildered when I ask if they sell sunscreen below 30 SPF.  We've even seen 90 SPF.  I had agreed to compromise from my usual SPF of 4 or 6 and go with level 15, as the sun is super intense here.  But it remains to be seen, any SPF 15 that will also stay on in the water, and the women point me to not only the SPF 30+, but the after sun "whitening" lotion.  I think they believe my skin will turn white before their eyes if I could just use the same stuff they do.  

In fact, hanging out with some local guys here, we've learned that these guys who work outside, on the beach, or in the fields, who don fairly deep, beautiful skin tones and tans, have difficulty getting girlfriends.  They have told us that the women here associate dark skin with poverty and manual labor jobs.  They think the women prefer a man with white skin, as it indicates to them that the man must have an office job, be educated, and wealthy.  We found this so disheartening for the kind, hardworking and attractive guys that were telling us this.  That they were so rejected because their skin color signified economic status, which in many of their situations was completely untrue-many of them were extremely entrepreneurial, making a good living doing what they love, and reaping the benefits of a wide open tourism market.  We encouraged them to come to California where they'd have no trouble showing off their tan, fit bodies on the beach, and finding women.  We also have been learning (not just here in Vietnam) how difficult it is for non-US citizens to get a tourist visa to visit the US.  People wait years to get the chance to come to the US on holiday, and some never get the opportunity for a visa.  The US government fears that they might not leave.  Very disappointing to learn this when we Americans are so privileged to get visas so easily to travel to so many countries.  

Tags: Culture


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