In the West, women always want to be tan. We ruin our skin in tanning beds, or, if we’re wiser, we buy a tan-in-a-bottle. Western Family sells them, Avon certainly does, and if you want a really classy tan, you can pay Estee Lauder or Chanel to make you glow. In the East, it’s different. They all want to be white. I saw it in Thailand, and I see it here- women desperate to make their tans go away. One girl in the monastery came out glowing like a ghost every morning, her face powdered to a stiff artificiality. I always thought that she would be a beautiful girl if she would just wipe that shit off her face. Walk into a pharmacy here (or there), and it’s difficult to find a lotion that isn’t “whitening.” I don’t particularly want to be more white, so I try to find a normal, neutral lotion, but it’s difficult. Even (or especially) the models here are Westernized and whitened until they don’t look real anymore. I look through Indian magazines and marvel at the women I see- are they real? Where are they from? They have a decidedly Eastern caste, but they have been airbrushed into looking like something different, a new breed of woman, a glowing white generic prototype of what everyone thinks is beauty. Weird.