Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It is all about perspective!

Something I have noticed recently, especially while travelling in India and Indonesia, is that the standard for beauty is very different than it is at home in Canada. I can walk down the street here in Depok on any given day, feeling a little like a flamingo trying to fit in to a flock of hummingbirds, and a guy will slowly cruise by on a motorcycle, unabashedly staring, and simply say "mau" with a look of longing on his face. "Mau" means want... you know what he is getting at. Equally as often, Indonesian ladies will whisper cantik cantik (beautiful beautiful), and reach out to touch my glaringly white arms or shoulders. This is all happening while I am walking around in the blazing sun, slathered in sunscreen, sweating profusely, and feeling like a cross between Godzilla and a hippopotamus amongst all of these beautiful and delicately built locals. Cruising through the skin care section at the pharmacy there are rows upon rows of whitening creams, all promising to give you a glowing white complexion. This so starkly contrasts the rows upon rows of tanning lotions you see in western pharmacies! It seems odd to be complimented on something like skin tone, something that is merely genetics, and besides that, it is something I have been teased absolutely mercilessly about by certain friends and family members. My sister has called my paleness "the moon tan" and other friends of mine dubbed me "Casper." At least I am a friendly ghost? I think it boils down to the fact that most people want what they don't have, so as I walk down the street here, standing taller than the average MAN with my light eyes and light skin, I am playing up to all those exotic characteristics that these Indonesians just don't have, but desperately want. I guess living here is a way to balance out that awkward phase I had.. the one that lasted from age 6 to 16. Those were some painful years, and they involved many painfully gawky photographs so maybe all this attention is meant to balance that out?

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