National Geographic : 2002 Nov
Draped inplace over our bodies, skin forms the barrier between what's inside us and what's outside. Itprotects us from a multitude of external forces. (Continuedfrom page 46) many people of European descent deemed white skin desirable-it meant that its owner was a member of the upper class and did not have to work in the sun. Women even ate arsenic, risking illness and death, to make their skin pale. Among dark-skinned people in some parts of the world, skin whiteners and light eners are still popular. A label on a product manufactured in Paris (which I purchased in Bangkok) claims to be "the first technology which regulates the different steps in the skin pigmentation process, to perfect the whitening efficiency." Those who cannot afford such products-or who want faster and more dra matic results-sometimes use illegally imported creams containing steroids or concoct their own abrasives. Friends of mine in Indonesia have a daugh ter who just turned 16. As a coming-of-age gift her classmates gave her a skin whitening kit and a package of other whitening products, all designed for "the teenage skin." To be "fair," her friends told her, is to be desirable. In other cultures during the 20th century, as cities grew and work moved indoors, per ceptions about paleness shifted in the oppo site direction. Tanned skin began to denote Both freeze-framed at minus 40° in 22 mile-an-hour wind, test subjects partic ipate in experiments at Defence R&D Canada in Toronto. Researchers hope, by measuring skin reac tion to a range of temperatures and wind speeds, to de velop a formula that can predict how long it takes for skin to become frostbitten under a variety of weather conditions.