Beauty and the beast: Baby, it’s cold outside

It was during the middle of winter, probably around this time of year. I was in fourth grade and the girl sitting across from me wore a black tank top that said NOTHING TO WEAR in metallic pink. She paired her tank with a short pastel-pink skirt.

I was on the other side of this extreme. My parents, my mom especially, were always nagging at me for not wearing enough clothing, thus I arrived to school every day as if I were going snowboarding.

I was forced to wear an undershirt, a turtleneck, a sweater and then one of those puffy ski jackets on top of all that. I looked absolutely ridiculous. It wasn’t even comfortable because it was too hot and I felt constricted by all the layers. By the end of the day, I would shed down to the sweater or the turtleneck.

Fast forward a little bit, and the friend who sat across from me had been absent from class for a good week. I remember her best friend telling me, “She’s sick because never wears enough. I keep telling her that you can dress warm and still look cute, but she doesn’t listen.”

What the wise fourth grader said is partially true. You can undoubtedly look nice dressed in weather-appropriate attire. However, not wearing enough does not cause one to become sick.

When I first learned this, it came to me as a shock. I grew up bundled in clothing. When I got older, and started dressing myself, I’d constantly be reprimanded for not wearing enough clothing. My parents would always be telling me that I’d get sick if I didn’t wear another jacket.  Sometimes, I’d only be allowed to go out if I promised to wear enough clothing or bring an extra jacket. Whenever I did get sick, my mom would always factor in the cold and how I do not wear enough.

So it was refreshing to learn that not wearing enough does not actually cause sickness.  The cold is caused by bacteria and viruses, not by the weather.

The weather does, however, have contributing factors. The reason why winter is correlated with flu season is because flu viruses thrive in Davis’ cold, dry weather. In addition, people tend to stay indoors during the winter, so the likelihood of spreading a sickness from one another increases.

Being a rebellious teenager, of course I brought this up to my parents after I found out.  They claimed that being exposed to the cold lowers your body’s immune system, so I was still stuck with endless lectures and layers of clothing. I attribute why I am now so intolerant of the cold to my parents forcing me to wear too much clothing.

It’s a daily struggle for me to drag myself out of my warm bed and out of the apartment to get to class. As much as I’d love to snuggle up in my blankets and hibernate this winter, my mandatory morning classes don’t allow me to do so. I absolutely love Davis, but one thing I absolutely hate about Davis is biking. I don’t mind biking too much when the weather’s nice, sunny, but not too hot and not too cold with no wind. Biking in that weather is tolerable, but I cannot deal with biking in the wintertime when it’s cold, windy and potentially rainy. This is why we should all take advantage of Davis’ Unitrans bus systems.

As for keeping warm the rest of the day, my parents were right about layering up.  Wearing multiple layers traps heat in very effectively. This is because air is actually a great insulator, and layers of clothing allows for air, as well as more clothes, to keep you warm. A nice layering tip is to wear tights under your jeans.

However, what my parents didn’t teach me was that being warm doesn’t always mean tacky, formless layers. Both guys and girls can stay warm and have fun with accessories like gloves, hats and scarves.

Have you ever noticed how much just a scarf or a hat does to keep you warm? This is because the head, face and chest are actually more sensitive to temperature than the rest of your body. Therefore, when battling the cold, equip yourselves by covering those areas.

Finally, I like keeping my hands and feet covered. I find wearing gloves to be a nuisance, especially because it hinders you from using your phone. Keeping a pair in your pocket, however, is handy for when you’re biking. As for feet, for girls it’s easy. There are numerous options out there like moccasins, boots and fuzzy socks. Guys, I guess you have those options too, if you’d like to try them.

Well, I hope these tips help you stay warm this winter, because baby, it’s cold outside.


EUGENIA CHUNG can be reached at ehchung@ucdavis.edu.

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