Monthly Archives: May 2010

#17 Being fair

Singaporeans love being fair, and by fair I mean having pale skin that would give Voldemort a run for his money. Singapore is probably the only tropical island-nation in the world where the only people who like going to the beach to bask in the sun are foreigners and tourists. I mean look at Hawaii. Hawaii is an island. And people from Hawaii love being tanned. They also love spam musubis and going to the beach. This is not the case with Singaporeans.

If this were California or Hawaii, people would probably think you were crazy for wanting to stay out of the sun. One time when it was really sunny, one of my professors in college decided to have class on the well-manicured lawn outside the classroom and everyone thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. Things like that probably wouldn’t fly with Singaporeans.

Singaporeans avoid the sun like the plague. It is for this reason that aside from being fair, Singaporeans also love foldableĀ umbrellas, especially if they have Hello Kitty’s face plastered on them. Singaporeans use umbrellas pretty much all the time – to stay dry from the rain, as a shield against the sun and in some cases, to poke the irritating fat man who thinks that it’s socially acceptable to shove himself into the already-full train compartment during rush hour, and in the process invading your space with his spectacular moobs (Dear Wacoal, please start making man bras).

Exhibit A: Fat and inconsiderate man shoving his way into the crowded train. (Okay okay, I know I’m no Picasso. I took fiction writing instead of studio art for my Fine Arts requirement in college for a reason. I think the last time I actually drew a whole bunch of cartoon people was during my Primary 6 Art exam, where we had to draw “Singapore in 2020”.)

Anyway, back to being fair. I have this terrible habit of going off topic. Sometimes when I’m typing out a press release on slimming socks or something, I suddenly wonder what the fattest person in world looks like and then I have to Google it and then I get really disturbed by all the images that come up on Google Images and then I just have to show people the images and I end up losing my train of thought. Oh yeah, and this usually distracts aforementioned people from whatever they were doing, pre-Fattest Man in the World photo. Oops sorry, I just went off topic again.

Besides umbrellas, Singaporeans are also big fans of whitening creams, lotions and miracle essence water. Nevermind that there’s fermented sake yeast or sulphuric acid in that $200 bottle of SK II whitening cream. As long as you slap Gong Li or Fann Wong’s face on it and label the product as the “no #1 best-seller in Japan”, Singaporeans will buy it. And in questionably large quantities too. (One time I saw a woman buying a huge carton of whitening milk at Isetan. I guess she was going to make a little wading pool of whitening milk to splash about in.)

Singaporeans may even take it one step further and use a Darth Vadar-like visor to block out any sneaky rays of sunshine that threaten to give them a tan. My Singaporean Mom has one of these visors for when we drive up to Malaysia, and she likes to watch Korean Dramas on her portable DVD player while looking like RoboCop. Occasionally, she’ll furrow her eyebrows in disapproval over what Young Jae did to Han Ji-Eun, and then pop open the visor to eat some almonds. I imagine that is what Darth Vadar would look like on a day off from ruling the Empire, if he had big hair, manicured nails and a penchant for Korean dramas with a plucky heroine.

Exhibit B: RoboCop visor

Many makeup and skin care companies have zeroed in on the fact that Singaporean women are self-conscious about not being pale enough, and have resorted to shameless hard-sell sales techniques (aka first implying that you look about as attractive as the Gingerbread man, and then positioning some miracle whitening water with soya bean essence as the answer to your prayers).

One time I was lurking about at Watsons while waiting for my sister to pick me up, and one of the sales ladies (you know the sort – caked on foundation that is three shades lighter than their skin tone, bright red lipstick, beady eyes and a complete lack of tact) popped up behind me before I could escape. “Xiao mei mei, ni yao try wo men de miracle whitening essence ma?” she said, as she waved over to a shelf of mysterious red bottles. “Your skin velly black, not nice!” (For non-Singaporeans, this essentially means “Look sister, you hella need some whitening potion stat. Because I think I see some brown in your skin there, and if you’re not careful, you might end up looking like a gnome and no one will marry you. Ever.”) After which, she proceeded to invade my personal space by brandishing aforementioned bottle of whitening essence in my face and talking really loudly.

At that point, I tried to escape because loud and pushy people make me nervous, but I was holding a faulty umbrella (which had popped open in the train earlier, causing the people around me to give me dirty looks) that sprung open just as I was about to inch my way out of the store. And that’s not even the worst part because when my unruly umbrella sprung open, it knocked down an entire Christmas display of Fererro Rocher. So for a good five seconds, all I saw was an avalanche of little golden chocolate balls (which in any other situation would have been amazing, but clearly not when I was the one who caused it). Anyway, I’m so not going back to that Watsons outlet (and I’m not going to mention which one it was in case someone rats me out).

P.S Sorry for the lack of updates! Please accept this drawing of a happy tiger as a peace offering.

I tried to make the drawing more realistic by adding in a pinkish red tongue and pointy teeth, but he ended up looking like the Joker so I had to erase it. Sorry he’s kind of wobbly-looking… it’s the best I could do without a mouse.