The days are bright and sunny and while I get enthusiastic about the warmth and the flowers and the nice weather days, I also start thinking about the wrinkles and liver spots that are waiting to adorn my face...
When I lived in the States I never thought about skin. As a teenager I laid out by the pool and got as sun-tanned as possible! In college I lived in Oregon and there wasn't much sun to contend with. And coming to Japan I was surprised to see ladies with deep hats and long elbow length "driving" gloves to protect their forearms from the sun rays.
But now I'm in my fifties. If truth be told, somewhere in my forties I started to look at moisturizers and sunblocks and UV cutting powders. I see more sag and crows' feet and spots that I can no longer call beauty marks. So I wear a hat.
In Southern California I don't know anyone who wears a hat. My mother has never owned a hat in her life. Marcy never wears a hat. All these people out at the flea markets and jogging on the streets and there aren't that many hats. Maybe a visor or two. Sometimes a baseball cap.
Japanese women love hats! There are some very fancy ones made of silk and kimono fabrics, there are cute ones with little flowers decorating them. There are lace hats and elegant straw hats. There are berets and Chinese Mao caps and deep bucket hats. And if you don't want to wear a hat (or if you want extra protection) you can always carry a sun parasol when walking from car to supermarket. I've seen some ladies wearing a visor mask that makes them look like a relation to Darth Vadar! It is very important to protect the pure, fair skin and some of the cosmetic product advertisements border on discrimination. "Beauty is White".
Well, I'm not going so far as carrying a parasol and I haven't bought any skin whitening products yet. I'm more interested in keeping the age out of my face so I do wear hats. I like to try on hats in the stores though I rarely find one that looks good on me. In fact, every summer when I go back to the States with one of my hats my mother will inevitably say,
"What an unattractive hat. It looks like a towel."
(Sometimes she says it looks like a old man's fisherman's hat.) I wear my hat for the first few days of walking in the strong California sun but I usually feel silly and leave it in my suitcase and opt for a tube of sunscreen instead. When I wear hats in the States I really feel Japanese.
I already have two hats. The first I bought a few years ago and liked it because it was reversible. I can wear stripes or plain. I have never had the courage to wear it stripe side out.
I love this cap not because it looks so great nor keeps the sun off my face but rather because of the logo. Look at that!!! It says GOD ANSWERS PRAYER and no one else but me in Japan knows I'm giving out a message.
And with the arrival of spring (and a half price bargain sale!) I bought another hat this week. I can just hear my mother's voice when I take it to the States this year.
"What an unattractive hat. It looks like a milking pail."
I guess I bought it because it was "different" and the visor can be pulled up or down depending on my mood and it is especially deep to keep me in complete shadow when I take Choco for a walk. I hope I don't bump into a tree...