As I was lounging in the shallow end of a large, overly populated pool this afternoon I entered into conversation with the mom of one of my son’s friends. We were shooting the bull, catching rays, while I was admiring the glow of my skin – the dark color I was gaining. She was noticing the alarming number of freckles that were popping up all over her skin and considering the merits of more sunblock. We started to discuss our tan lines. I, with my differing layers of darkness (giving me, what I like to think, a multifaceted rainbow look), was in no position to discuss the details of fine sunbathing. I have so many tan lines it isn’t even funny. We started talking about skin cancer (because of course, all women do at some point in a conversation… don’t they?). I commented that I thought we humans were such vain creatures. We know that getting burned and too much sun isn’t good for us, and yet we also like the way we look with color so much that some of us seek out the sun whenever we can!
She reminded me that in a not so distant past, it was considered low-class to have tan lines – because it meant you were poor enough that you had to work outside in the sun. The women who traveled out west tried desperately to keep a porcelain look about them, even given the harsh circumstances they found themselves. I have heard of milk baths, wearing long sleeves, bonnets, gloves, etc. to do work in. We then went on to discuss how there was a time where women with some meat, i.e fat, on them were the ones idolized, for they were the ones with enough resources to eat.
Thinking about our society today, we really are no different in how we relate physical characteristics with the amount of money a person has. I am going to overgeneralize here, but today we see a fit, tanned woman as the ideal This is the woman who has the time to lie in a tanning bed and then go work with a personal trainer. Our definition of leisure has changed, but the thought process is the same. We all want to be that wealthy person who has time on their hands, and people to motivate or change them (even enhance or rearrange them, as is the case with plastic surgery).
I am by no means wealthy. I would like to be… I am willing to be… I would be willing to consider options on how to be wealthy – but I had not really thought about the fact that I do things in an attempt to look affluent. I try to keep in shape, I am relatively dark for my coloring, and some would say I live the life of ease. I consistently find I fall short though, and this is probably where the trouble lies. I like to bike and dance, but I am also VERY German. Lets just say, stoutness is in my genes. I like to be in the sun, but I also like to wear clothing (I know, some would say that is SO modest), and generally like to wear clothing that is appropriate for the event I am participating in. Hence the varying lines of color that change daily on my skin.
People have a tendency to try to appear different than what they really are. Why is this necessary? Why can’t we embrace the fact that we are who we are?. That the money we have is the money we have, and we can work hard at earning more, but until that point we must make do. Why must we be so intent on keeping up with the Jones’s that we lose sight of the fact that we are amazing people ourselves. Why can’t I…. not just we, but I… see this?
From here on out.. I will be the girl of the different colors who dances and sings, getting on her bicycle not because she has to, but because she loves to. I will love to put on the sparkly nail polish, dress up for the fun of it, wear false eyelashes just because I can. I will wear lipstick to ride my bike in, because it makes me feel pretty, damn it, and I don’t care if that is faux pas or not.
I… will….. be…. ME!