Friday, July 22, 2011

A Woman's Worth

I can't express just how much Japanese women hate getting any form of a tan because of their fear of aging. A colleague explained to me that during high school and university, it's more accepted for a girl's skin to be exposed to the sun. However, once you are 22 or older, it`s time to go Edward Cullen and avoid sunlight. Whenever we have to be outside for school activities, it's kind of funny to see the female teachers. Every inch of their body is covered with clothing in the high temperatures and humidity. If they are wearing a t-shirt, the rest of their arms are covered with long fingerless sleeves. And even then, they wear gloves. They wear pants, rather than shorts and long-brimmed bucket hats.

When you ask a guy if he cares about his skin becoming tan, he says no. And he doesn`t. You will be hard pressed to find a guy frantically rubbing on SPF 50 and searching for his wide brimmed bucket hat on an overcast day. As in most countries, it is okay for the men to age normally but women are expected to try to not age because there is this idea that as soon as she ages, her value somehow diminishes. In my opinion, you can`t fight it. I don`t mean we should all run around, slathering Crisco on our skin and sitting in the sun, surrounded by shiny tin foil, but I do think that there should be more acceptance of aging for women. I can't help but wonder if the women ever miss the feel of the sun on their skin and the vitamin D.

I, however, got burned at the softball tournament on Tuesday at the high school. I got to play with the male teachers against the boys and they seemed to have no problem with it. I think I surprised a lot of my students when I played first base and was able to smack a few hits up the middle. I didn`t play with the girls because although they are amazing at tennis and badminton, they play softball like sissies. Softball is a man`s sport in Japan, so women usually sit on the sidelines and cheer. At the end of every trimester, there is a sports competition of some sort. In the summer, it`s softball. In the winter, it`s basketball. And in the spring, it`s volleyball and soccer. I was a fast-pitch softball pitcher in high school and the teachers know this. So of course they wanted me to pitch at the tournament. They seemed disappointed when I said no because the catcher wasn't wearing any protection and the students don't wear helmets when they bat. The last thing I wanted to do was give a student a concussion from a stray pitch or render the catcher incapable of producing children.

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