A Cultural Difference Between Chinese and American

In regard to the cultural difference I noticed during my first month in America, the most interesting fact is that American people love basking in the sun while Asian people are exploring methods of whitening.

In Santa Barbara, I never see anyone use an umbrella to avoid exposing the skin to the strong sunshine, which is against my cognition. My mother always urges me to carry an umbrella or use sunscreen so as not to get tanned. Mostly, Asian people regard white skin as beauty, but white people would like to bask in the sun intentionally, even using sunless tanning products or bronzers, which really confused me.

I asked some American friends, who are interested in spending hours on lying in the sand on beach to tan their back, for their ideas. A general answer is that tan is regarded as a representative of health and energetic. And I searched for it, there’s a statement which I think is the most convincing. Decades ago, in Asian countries most people who had tan were farmers and poor labour. And these farmers and poor labour didn’t have a high social class, so subconsciously Asian people disdain tan and strive for whitening. To the contrary, in the decades of Industrial Revolution, Western people who worked in the industry were paid little and had a low social class. However these rich people in Western countries had excess money to spend on outdoor sports and entertainments. That’s the reason why they were easy to get tanned.

Though hypothesis is convincing to me, but I think the most important reason is the difference understanding of how sunshine influences people’s health. In China, most people think exposing skin to the sunshine increases the chance to get skin cancer, while many American studies claim that basking in the sun helps the absorption of Calcium in human body which contributes to the health of bones. Since I haven’t done a specific research for whether basking in sun contributes to our health or not, I cannot get the conclusion that whether Chinese people or American people are behaving correctly. I just think it’s an interesting phenomenon in people’s various values of beauty and opposite behaviors from different countries.

I believe there are more cultural differences in America, and I’m trying to find them and get accustomed to them. At the same time, I hope that I can exchange more Chinese culture with people from other countries and let more people find the interests of cultural differences.