Thursday, August 23, 2007

Land of the Orange People

Summer is winding down, but the heat is rising and there is no foreseeable end to the Italian tanning craze. Like their relationship to cigarette smoking, the Italian people live in a state of denial when it comes to sun damage. They expose their skin to both UVA and UVB rays, from 10am to 2pm, using shiny silver reflectors, forgoing sunscreen with an SPF higher than 4, and though they begin to resemble their alligator bags and snakeskin shoes by the age of 22, they don't seem to mind.


I used to tan. And I turned a lovely brown. Now I have freckles and age spots and those white dots that signify mini melanin deaths to prove it. I avoid the sun, but even with Neutrogena Skin Defense or Age Defying Lotion or whatever it's called with an SPF of 45 and sitting under a giant umbrella, I am still changing color. Even La Bimba who is subject to multiple Water Babies latherings every day has a bit of a tan. (Not enough, according to our Neapolitan neighbors, who shout, "Put that baby in the sun! Get her some color!").


But at least I am not orange. These people, these blissfully unaware Italians, are orange. It's not pretty.


The worst place for sun damage is the female chest. There is nothing more frightening than when an overly tanned woman of a certain age leans over causing her boobs to converge resulting in the accordion effect of the chest skin. Here it is over the entire body:


Do you think that image has been air brushed?

There are so many things I fear for La Bimba if we remain in Napoli: smoking, tanning, helmetless motorino riding, coffee addiction, no fiber in her diet, butt crack exposure fashion, cutting in front of old people in line... I suppose I just have to keep working on leaving town. But where oh where should we go?

10 comments:

Marmite Breath said...

Yes, Naples was fine for me for three years, and I feel such longing when I think of it sometimes, but I don't think I could live my entire life there. The idea that you live, eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow Vesuvio could erupt is fine in the short term, but the after effects of that sort of living worry the pee out of me.

Ms. Violetta said...

I was rather shocked by the sun obsession in Italy. I'm 37 but look much younger than some of my Italian friends who are 28 or 29 years old. I stay out of the sun and never was big on tanning. It good that you are protecting your daughter's skin. I'm like a cheetah with sun spots I developed as a child running around with olive oil slathered on my skin!

Doug said...

I'm not sure you'll avoid butt-crack fashion anywhere in the Western world...

However, you guys are EU citizens, right? Anywhere in the EU is doable, I assume. How about trying a northern European country, like one of the Scandanavian countries, where things are still relatively civilized?

I don't recommend coming back to the US.

Doug said...

I guess the other thing is that you can't avoid worries about one's child (or oneself) anywhere on the planet, so it's pick-your-poison, to some extent.

This is, of course, easy for me to say, with a fish my only responsibility (aside from myself and my wife!).

Not that you're asking for advice, but just because I just read it, and my wife's reading it now, try reading Bertrand Russell's The Conquest of Happiness -- it's funny, wise, and mostly on the ball. Russell writes crystal clear prose, and for the general reader -- and probably did a lot to spread happiness since the book was published in 1930. Good stuff. It's relatively short: I read it in one sitting (like, 3 hours).

Doug said...

Ugh: I mean, "...one can't avoid..."

And I tutor for the SATs! LOL.

Anonymous said...

That photo is giving me the willies, a bit! Another post, PF! Of course, you know my vote for where to live. Plus you could learn German too!
love
Gayle

Kataroma said...

After a weekend on Capri I've decided that most tans are just plain ugly. Why are they so fashionable here? A lot of people on Capri looked like the lady in your photo. And there were little kids on the beach who already sported dark tans!

Anonymous said...

tans can be fun depending on the color and shape of the tan in question. does it smell fresh, or it just plan outdated? my cousin very fashionably wore a tan for some time bun then decide it was best to leave it for another generation. and he did. and boy was that a riot at our next family gathering!

Anonymous said...

whoops. i mistakenly used the word "bun" when i meant "but" in the above post. my flub. i'm glad this is anonymous because your readers probably now suspect that i am obsessed with anything related to butts. i am a bit. not necessarily the deep black hole obsession, but more like the fluffy butt accessory kind. you know, once or twice removed from the brown, and i'm there.

Alex said...

My neighbor and I are 5 years apart and when we were outside of the hair salon a woman approached us and asked if I was her daughter! My neighbor is the type that tans until she looks like the dark latke that no one eats. Needless to say it hasn't stopped her this summer!