Pale and Proud


I don’t really know where I’m going.  I look down for the next stepping stone, glistening at me with come hither reflections, and I see only water.  I know where I am.  Sort of.  I just don’t know where I’m supposed to be going.

It’s bloody warm today.  I’ve been in my room a lot, clammy, window open, letting in traffic noise on still air.  I am grateful it’s not shit weather, but I need to acclimatize to this new wet-heat.  I smile when I see people running into the arms of the sun.  Hotter the better.  Whip your tops off, men.  Get your skimpy skirts and vests out, girls.  Get out there.  It’s frantic. 

The sun and I have a somewhat cooler relationship.  I appreciate your light, sun.  I appreciate your encouragement of growth in our gardens.  I appreciate that you offer a kind glow to even the greyest of streets.  I appreciate you, but I do not worship you.

I do not wish to succumb to the cooked red neck and back that so many of my fellow Brits embrace.  I do not want to pursue you, practically begging “shine on me, shine on me.  Me! Me!  Choose me, dammit!  Leave these other pretenders in the shade.  Only I love and worship you totally, without barrier.  Look – No SPF!  I love you the mostest”.

Sunburn makes me quake.  I feel the pain when I see it, even on a stranger’s burly back. 

I am pale.  I do not tan.  I deal with it.

When I say that I do not tan, that my skin actually is incapable of tanning, people sometimes scoff.  And they assume that I mean I don’t want to tan.  When I was younger and people weren’t so worried about the health risks, people would sometimes suggest possible ways I could get a tan.  “Have you tried…”

My personal favourite was “I’m sure you could get a tan.  If you went to the sunbed three times a week and built it up slowly.  Everyone can tan.” – my sister, circa. 2002.

The funny part is the implicit suggestion that I was just too lazy to tan.  Like I was failing at school or something.  Okay, this is what happens when I go on sunbeds/out in the sun without protection (which I haven’t done for years, for obvious reasons).  First, I feel the heat.  Then my skin goes pink.  If repeated over a few days, my skin stays pink, gets pinker and hurts like hell when I shower, put on or take off clothes.  A few days later, when less pale people start to develop the brownish pigment, I merely retain ‘colour’.  It is just that.  It is not pale anymore, nor tan, nor bright pink.  It is just something in-between.  I guess it might make me less ill-looking in the mornings, but if I want brown legs I need to apply a brown tan cream. 

I do not have enough pigment to tan.  I get more freckles.  That’s it.

I wanted to scream this at people who consistently refused to believe me.  And, genuinely, I don’t care.  I’ve flirted with the idea of tanning it up with creams, but when it comes down to it, I just can’t be arsed with that maintenance.  The look of a fake tan flaking off your chest after seven days (roughly the time it takes for skin cell renewal to start shedding the St. Tropez dye) is ugly.

I will admit to something, though.  I don’t mind using the new generation moisturisers with a bit of self-tan in them.  It is nice to avoid my radioactive white complexion with a bit of something.  They’ve sold me because they are no more trouble than applying a moisturiser after a bath – which I’d be doing anyway – and they don’t require excessive rubbing in to keep it even.

That said, I honestly don’t mind being pale.  As long as my skin is even, I’m okay with it.  I love how people think I am secretly hiding a desire to bronze.  It gets a bit harder when I’m around people who are constantly on the browning mission.  A few times I have had to fake interest in fake tan just because the group of girls I’m conversing with seem to be fascinated with the tan-talk: “what do you use?”  “I’ve got [this on]”  “You look lovely, that’s really natural”  “Oh, thank you, it’s not too much then?”  “Oh, no.  So where did you get it?  Bet it was expensive.”  “Well, No! actually…”  A conspiratorial girly conversation ensues.

p.s. if you want to read another person’s perspective from the milk end of the spectrum, this was among the automatically generated posts that appear when you publish a new post, it made me smile – Tips on Interacting with Pale People, on the blog, Thug Life.


6 thoughts on “Pale and Proud

  1. I always feel very blessed as a blond (or is it blonde? – damn it – is one for male and one for female? can’t remember) but I inherited my ma’s olive complexion too – don’t burn unless I’m really really stupid (like a week in the mad-dog sun). Yrs, abysmally, but no longer under that moniker, etc. Take care

  2. Hahaha, I am exactly the same. I am really, really pale. Other people think they are pale, and then put their arm next to mine and realise they actually look quite brown in comparison! Like you, I just don’t tan. If I don’t put sun cream on, or a high enough factor sun cream on, then I just go bright pink/red, and then just fade back to white, whereas other people seem to go pink and then it turns into brown. Doesn’t happen for me. And if I wear sun cream I just stay pale. So basically I am always really really pale. And I can’t be bothered with these moisuriser things with self tan in – I don’t care about it enough to bother with that. If I used moisturiser anyway I might switch to one of those, but I don’t, so it would just be doing it for the fake tan, and I don’t care. I would probably just make my sheets go orange or something. Being pale is cool – we are different 😉

    • ha, yeah I have taken part in and observed that whole lets compare forearms thing. It’s a serious mission for a lot of people I know and I guess I’m glad in a way that my paleness exempts me from the Tan Wars 😉

  3. I’m pale! Like you, I like the sun but I’m dashing for cover as soon as I possibly can! An allergy to the sun runs in my family plus I hate the uncomfortable feeling that comes with it! I went through the competitive ooh stage a few years ago but that is now over – bring on the suncream and shade!

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