Embracing Pasty

I was in American Eagle last week shopping for shorts. I grabbed a few pairs and headed to the dressing room where I proceeded to fall into a dark hole of despair. Okay, it wasn’t that bad (and I don’t mean to make light of depression) but you know what I mean. Come spring, you’re in the dressing room with some shoulder-baring tops or a cute pair of capris, and that unforgiving mirror highlights the fact that your skin is the color of Edward Cullen’s (sans sparkle).

My Irish roots don’t help. Growing up, my family went through a dozen bottles of sunscreen every summer. I tan eventually; after a summer of vigilant sunscreening, come mid-August, I will be slightly less pasty than I was in June (though this is probably a distinction only I notice). And you know what? I never cared. I’d let my mom slather on the SPF-50 and be happy as a clam in my emerald one-piece that only emphasized my fair complexion.

It wasn’t until recent years that I started to think there was something wrong w/ being, well, white. In college, girls would show up to class in the dead of winter looking like they’d just come from the beach. I never gave it a second thought until these girls started multiplying. At class, at the gym, at the bar; these tanned girls were slowly taking over. Since they were sprouting up everywhere, I began to think that they did look better.

When I moved to Boston and joined Planet Fitness, my membership included free unlimited tanning. I had never gone tanning before, but since it was free with my membership, you bet I was going to get my money’s worth. I started going to the tanning booth two or three times a week. My sisters were none too pleased with this news and Maureen recommended that I see a dermatologist for a mole screening. At the dermatologist, the woman was friendly and seemed impressed w/ my sunscreen regimen. Then she asked if I tanned indoors and I told her that I had recently started. You would think I told her I had just offed a family in the waiting room. Her horrified reaction embarrassed me, b/c I knew it was warranted. It was the catalyst I needed to stop tanning.

Articles like this make me crazy. The fact that teens are tanning despite knowing the risks is scary. This superficiality is everything that is wrong w/ our society.

You know what else makes me crazy? When people are like, “Everything kills you these days,” as an excuse to continue their terrible behavior. Like, I’ll just keep going to the tanning bed and smoking cigarettes and avoiding any kind of physical exercise b/c it’s 2012; everything’s a killer! Throw the surgeon general’s warning and common sense to the wind; I NEED to be tan.

I lay out in the summer (after being liberal w/ the sunscreen bottle). I’ve gotten spray-tans and used those creams for an instant bronze. I get that a little tan goes a long way in making you look and feel better (though isn’t it ironic that tanning salons continue to use the word “healthy” to describe a tan when what it does to your skin is in fact the total opposite?) It’s just another superficiality our society is hung up on; when will we learn that a “natural looking glow” is anything but natural when it’s February and minus ten degrees and the closest you’ve gotten to warm weather is standing over the subway vent at Park Street?

i think the choice is clear


Anonymous said…
I as a fellow Irish girl know how you feel I was the one with the spf 100+ all over my pale freckled self while I lay next to my Italian sisters who were bronze to perfection with no effort at all. But now-a-days I think I prefer my pale skin to the Doritos look of the girl next to me in class.
brigidmc12 said…
Glad you can relate! And who thinks Doritos-esque looks good on skin?