Dutch people want to get tanned in the spring and summer; they want to be brown like Asian people. So as soon as the sun comes out, they go outside and sunbathe. This makes people really happy; they enjoy the sunshine. Some even use tanning lotion to get a tan more quickly.
I kind of understand the wish to go outside in the sun because after the long winter, it is wonderful to have sun. I was happy too during the first sunny days in Holland, but the obsession with a tan is totally new to me. My Dutch friend was really happy when I told her she looked a bit tanned after she had been to the beach. Another Dutch friend said that if you are tanned after a holiday it means you have enough money to go to an expensive tropical destination. It is a way of showing your economic status.
In Indonesia it is the other way around. People want to be white, like westerners. We avoid sunlight as much as possible and prefer to stay inside air-conditioned buildings. That is why there are many malls in Indonesia; you can stay inside to do your shopping and you don’t get tanned. Malls are fancy places for Indonesians to hang out in. So for us, being white shows your economic status as well. We have whitening creams, whitening scrubs etc. If we go outside we wear gloves, masks, socks and jacket – the things that the Dutch use in winter – so the sun will not directly touch our skin.
It is funny how people never seem to be satisfied with themselves. I guess that’s what makes us humans; we always want to achieve or gain something that we don't have.
Khesara Sastrin Negara, an MSc student of Animal Sciences, from Indonesia
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NL: Wit of bruin
Khesara Sastrin Negara zag dit voorjaar tot haar verbazing dat Nederlanders massaal in de zon gaan zitten zodra het weer dat toelaat. In haar land is dit ‘zonnebaden’ een totaal onbekend verschijnsel. Mensen blijven juist zo veel mogelijk binnen in de airco en trekken – als ze echt naar buiten moeten – handschoenen, kousen en jassen aan om te voorkomen dat hun huid bruin wordt. Wit zijn is een statussymbool in Indonesië, vertelt Negara, net zoals bruin zijn dat is in Nederland. ‘Grappig dat mensen nooit tevreden lijken te zijn met zichzelf.’