Dark hair. Gray/blue eyes. Pale Skin. An odd combination, but that’s me.
There are many things I’d like to say while violently shaking my 16-year-old self, but at or near the top would have to be, “Hunny, embrace the pale. Pale is pretty! You’re not tan. You will never be tan. And you don’t need to compare yourself to the girls in your class who spend hours in the tanning bed. Take this one off your plate, kid.”
Remember the 90’s? Tanning beds were the rage. I used to get so mad at my parents for not allowing me to tan like the other girls in school. Turns out parents, with all their wisdom, really do know better than a teenager dealing with peer pressure. Looking back, I’m so grateful that I didn’t heap additional damage onto my fair skin by crisping up in tanning beds. I’m sure I did quite enough damage by spending my summers under that tanning bulb in the sky, sans sunblock.
It took me a solid 30 years, many sunburns, several bouts of sun poisoning, and the graceful appearance of fine eye lines, but I finally had my ‘come to Jesus’ moment. I don’t belong in the sun! Now, I fully own my ‘don’t stare directly at my legs or they will blind you’ skin tone, and I fully intend to maintain it 365 days a year. SPF 50 is my best friend.
Maybe it’s the confidence (or indifference) that comes with getting older, the changing culture, or the research about skin cancer, but I no longer feel the pressure to look tan in the summer. I’m ready to hit the beach, gleaming white, while sitting under a shade – and that’s super duper hard for me because I love the sun! I love being outside. I love being warm. But the risk of a burn trumps all those things.
I’m not sure if younger girls care as much about being tan anymore, but my hope is that we all embrace our unique selves – pale, tan, dark – all skin is pretty!