Thursday, August 11, 2011

I feel pretty

I'll never forget the first time I went to buy sun screen in Thailand.

There's a 7-11 on every corner and is the major way for giving directions in any Thai city, "Turn left at the 7-11 and you're there!"  It's the place you go to buy $1 beer to drink on the sidewalk and usually the only place you can find sunscreen...that is....if you want your skin lighter.  I made a lot of mistakes on our journey around the world, one of my biggest?  Not carrying more over 50+ SPF sunscreen with me before leaving the States... in Asia, women find beauty in being lighter skinned, so anything that isn't a very low SPF/meant for tanning/meant for tourists, is only available with added whitener!

I'll admit, this had an effect on me.  I started to view my own beauty differently.  I started asking myself questions about what I think makes me beautiful...I thought all of the women around me in Asia had such gorgeous perfect figures and beautiful faces....and now I wonder if we were all just looking at each other with an odd curiosity, wondering what it would be like to look like the other.

Prambanan Temple in Yogyakarta Indonesia
All the local field trip  groups wanted a picture with the "white girl"

Stepping out of one culture and into another gave me that temporary moment to really look at myself and all my weird cultural stereotypes and decide what I really want to look like....of course this changes all the time, but always looking slightly wacky with a travel pak on my back, dorky shoes on and wearing wacky foreign clothes in the middle of deserts, forests, cities, definitely doesn't make me look flattering anywhere!  I got used to looking odd, which gave me a weird kind of confidence in my oddness knowing that I had to just accept how I looked, no matter how hard I tried, I was not going to fit in.

Right before I got married, before we traveled, I went to a tanning bed for months mid winter and accepted a whitening treatment for my teeth from my dentist....looking back post travel, I don't know if I would have made those same decisions.  Being tan with white teeth doesn't necessarily make me feel more beautiful any longer and definitely not healthier.  I feel like I bought in to the bridal beauty myths and requirements, that what I was wasn't beautiful enough.  If you did this in a lot of other places, you'd be laughed at...or at least snickered at and talked about behind your back.  

All these beauty thoughts came about because of something my aunt said to me a few weeks ago.  She was telling me how as she ages, she looks back on pictures of her younger self and sees how beautiful she was, but then she remembers how she felt about her looks at the time....flawed, imperfect, ugly, clothes not right, etc..etc.., so she's now decided to do her present self the courtesy of enjoying exactly how she looks today and acknowledge her beauty in the present....which I think takes a lot of guts no matter what age you are!

Just now writing this blog, I walked into a public bathroom and stuck to the mirror while washing my hands...a sticker that reads "You are beautiful".....amen sister!

Wouldn't it be amazing if women all over the world loved how they looked without being lighter/darker/thicker/thinner/plumper/taller/shorter/brighter/less wrinkly/longer fingers/where does it end? 

It's like that theory on straight verses curly ladies always want what we don't have....

I just wonder what it might be like if women all over the world would see the true beauty within them however they look and love the heck out of it...
What if!
Just for the record, the one country where I felt like women really knew they were workin' it?  Botswana!
Oh yeah!  They worked it and they knew it.  They were luscious and large and they took great pride in being such with no apologies.  Men treated women with respect and awe of their beauty and I remember thinking...damn...I wish I had a bootie too...(in many parts of Africa, having largeness is a sign of wealth, that you can afford good food)

I'm just sayin.....Dumela ma!  (That's hello to a woman in Botswana, said with great respect, warmth and a huge smile)  Incredible, strong and proud women who love how they look whatever that look is!  Wow!

Right after this photo was taken, this women's friends began laughing hysterically
that we had taken her photo and she was going to be famous!
(Taken not in Botswana - where we were too shy for photos - but Tanzania)

Have you been to a country where women knew they had it goin' on?
Have you been to a country where they look at you as if you were a movie star?  How did you feel?

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