Japan: the only place where my un-tanned legs are totally cool in summer (that I know of so far)

Posted on 29.07.2015


If I were in the states right now, I’d be afraid to wear shorts or a short skirt, because most people I know might comment on how pale I am, and how I need to get more sun. In general, I agree with that statement, and am working my hardest to get to a pool, water theme park or the beach on my day off, when it’s NOT raining (the weather looks good for this coming Monday, FINALLY).

this is 'pale' for me.

this is ‘pale’ for me.

However, here in Japan, the opposite is happening. My olive skin looks about the same as what most people might refer to as ‘Asian skin’ (and no, it is totally NOT ‘yellow’). We’re all a warm shade of beige. My female students have commented multiple times on ‘how nice and white my skin is’, or ‘how pale’ my skin is.

This is seen as a good thing here, for the exact same reason that ‘Rubenesque’ was good thing back in the day. It’s for the exact same reason as it was back when all countries had a monarchy and royal families: pale skin meant you had a lot of money and didn’t have to work outdoors in the sun.

There are a multitude of skin-whitening treatments you can buy at just about every drug and general home goods store, along with the most ridiculous things of all: arm and leg covers to wear, which supposedly block out the sun. I honestly doubt any of them *actually* work, but I guess it might make some people feel better about the possibility of the sun touching their skin.

The norm on a sunny day, in the middle of summer.

I’ll never understand how anyone could think that the color black does anything OTHER than attract sunlight (this is common color theory). They should really all be wearing white, which is a reflective color. But whatever.

There are also lighter-tone concealers and powder. Trying to buy foundation here is actually really difficult, since the tone I normally buy isn’t even sold here, as it’s ‘too dark’. All of the creams seem to come with SPF 50 or higher, as well, as do many normal body lotions.

I’m not concerned at all about the shade of my skin, but it’s interesting to think about. The other day I wore a pair of shorts and wasn’t fazed at all about how white my legs are, here at the end of July. If I were in the states, or even Germany, I might get comments from friends about it.

I work Wednesday to Sunday, and spend 10 hours in my office. The office I spend most of my time in is underground, and there are no windows. I spend approximately 15 minutes outside each day, and half of that time is spent walking home in the dark. So I really have just about NO time in the sun. Our days off are spent ‘surviving’, since it’s so hot we don’t really want to go out and do anything, and if we do, we’re trying to do it as quickly as possible, since we’re melting and want to go home/get inside into AC. I’d say my skin today looks almost exactly the same as it does in the middle of December. I’m ok with that!