I have several pet peeves — bad spelling and grammar, the saying ‘real women have curves‘, people who ruin food by putting spring onions in it — and the idea that being pale is somehow inferior to being tanned is right up there with them.
Let me get one thing out of the way first: I don’t have an issue with tanning, as long as it’s done safely. Sun-kissed skin looks gorgeous, end of.
But I am sick to the back teeth of people insinuating or outright stating that there somehow something wrong with being ghostly white, and, what’s more, choosing to remain that way.
I could tan if I had the time or patience (I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been tempted by the Cocoa Brown Gradual Tan I’ve seen floating round the blogosphere) but it seems like a lot of effort to change something I’m happy with in the first place.
And not a single fuck was given that day
I have never had a problem being pale, but other people often seem to have a problem on my behalf. There’s my mum, who likes to comment every time she sees a flash of bare ankle when I’m wearing skinny jeans (‘So white!’)
There’s my friend Dan, who thinks I look ‘weird’ (you’d think he’d be used to it by now; I’ve known him for ten years). When a group of us went on holiday to Spain he kept shaking his head at how pale my skin was and laughing at me for using SPF50 (it was less funny when he was all sun-burnt and flaky).
There are the acquaintances, and even the odd stranger, who feel compelled to point out ‘You’re so pale!’
Really? I’d never noticed.
Back in my dancing days, I was always the go-to girl for arm comparisons if anyone needed reassurance they still had some holiday skin, and people still hold their limbs next to mine for a confidence boost. Some of them just find it funny; others seem aghast I could be happy remaining in my permanently-white state.
But I am happy. I think pale skin has a different kind of beauty of its own. When my body has been scrubbed and moisturised and is all glowy from the shower, I think it looks clear and healthy, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
If being pale bothers you, there’s nothing wrong with using fake tan. That’s the wonderful thing about beauty products: they allow you to enhance what you love and play down the things you’re not so fond of. I’m fond of my pale skin though, and I refuse to be pressured into tanning it. The more people scoff, the more I’ll get my legs out.
Pale skin is beautiful — don’t let anyone tell you any different.
Have you had experiences like mine? How do you feel about having pale skin? Let me know in the comments.
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Beth, 25, South East England.
Lover of books, dogs, yoga, travelling, and gin.
I write about ethical & eco-friendly living, minimalism, and mental health, as I muddle through one step at a time. Enjoy!