Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lame Rules

Since the rise of gas prices, commuting in this city isn’t the easiest depending on your proximity to alternative means of transportation. I’ve been a faithful proponent of public transportation ever since moving back from NYC where u can travel around town, upstate, downstate, etc via mass transit. However, since I have low tolerance for stoopid drivers and tend to get white-knuckled and start having raving conversations with the invisible passenger (or road-rage as some may call it), I religiously make it the park-n-ride by 7am so I can plug in and tune out on my way to work.

Well, you can tell gas prices are hitting everyone in the back pockets, but the increase in non-black people riding my park-n-ride has increased, as exhibited by the Chinese couple on the bus today. The ‘regulars’ made a comment today that this couple must be new since when the bus came to a stop, they were the 2nd or 3rd to get up and exit the bus – they didn’t follow the unspoken ‘get-in-line’ rule. Of course I spoke up.

I don’t blame the Chinese couple for jumping up and getting off the bus. Everyone else takes their damn time and some of us have to transfer to another bus before hitting our final destination. I’m not sure why the sub-urban counterculture makes up these lame rules of standing in line for the bus, standing in line to get off the bus, and how they develop the mentality that public transportation is their personal limo service. If I didn’t have fat boy sitting on my hip today (I generally sit on the inside next to the window so I don’t have women and their ‘luggage’ banging into my shoulder) I would have jumped up and gotten off the bus quick, fast, and in a hurry.

So to the suburban-nites, it’s ok to buck your lame rules every now and again – not everyone conforms to the cookie-cutter homes, cookie-cutter cars, and cookie-cutter rules you attempt to impose and sometimes, we need to be first.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Following My Inner Ra

I make no bones about it - I am a true sun worshiper, quite possibly a follower of Ra. So any chance available for me to don my swimsuit, lavishly apply coconut oil and bake until a crispy brown – I am all for it.

Recently, a friend asked me why I tan since I’m already a brown girl? And frankly, I was taken off guard with that one. Why do I tan? Why do I look forward to days of lying in the sun and the smell of SPF and coconut? Why does a black girl like to be in the sun so much? Honestly – I just do!

But that lead me to Google “reasons to tan”. I found three articles published in scientific journals, two based on a study conducted at University of South Florida (all participants were female, and only 0.7% of the study participants were African American – go figure)[1],[2]. The study didn’t tell me anything new. People tan because the media tells them a tan body is better than a pasty pale one. People are forced by their peers to tan. The “Euro Assumption” – a tanned body shows that you spent money on a vacation (because there was the thinking way back when travel was expensive, that only the wealthy vacationed).

The third article was a bit more interesting. This study looked at people who have Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). BDD is a serious illness when a person is preoccupied with minor or imaginary physical flaws, usually of the skin, hair, and nose[3]. The study results show that people with this disorder tan to camouflage perceived imperfections and that those who pick at their skin are more likely to tan (since picking can be done not just with your fingers, but with sharp instruments which can cause more damage)[4].

The University of Florida study started my thinking wheels turning… When I lived in Tacoma (that’s Washington State), I can remember sitting in English class in the Spring comparing skin coloring to one of my classmates, Connie. She used to leave campus at lunch to go tanning at a salon not far from school. So, do I tan because my white friends tan? And why is it some of my friends whisper that they goes to the tanning salon as if it’s a dirty little secret?

Needless to say neither of the scientific articles gave me much insight into why I tan. I am not trying to hide any imperfections, make my stomach look smaller, or because the media sends conflicting messages about peaches and cream skin or nice tan bodies covered in coconut oil.

I tan because I just love being in the sun and I love seeing my skin turn that cooper color. So pass me the coconut oil and let the sun shine in!