Friday, April 08, 2011

Color Me Not

With the start of warm weather I have also seen the start of the sunless tanning commercials. I often joke about how pale I am. My skin does not tan. It will freckle, which is a huge warning sign that I need to avoid sun. It isn't just about keeping the premature aging away. For me, it is about keeping the cancer away. When I was a young teenager and got a sunburn, my father pointed out that I had just overcooked my skin. He said it as if I was treating my body like a Thanksgiving turkey. The image stuck with me. One teacher at my high school referred to tanning beds as the human microwave and wondered what it did to our insides while it was baking the outside. I've never been in a tanning bed (thank you, Mr.Scott).
I was secretly hoping, once the word at large started taking the issue of skin damage seriously, pale would become the trend. Instead, companies started coming up with new ways to make your skin appear darker. If anything, it has gotten worse. Now that a sun tan is something that can be sold in a spray can, every advertiser in America would have you believe that only poor, sick people refrain from covering up their natural skin pigment during warm weather. 
Over the years I have gone back and forth in the ways I have handled the pressure to be tan. In the past couple of years though, I have become more and more firm on the subject of remaining my natural color. The difference is my children. Nix is really fair, and JD is as ghostly white as I am, if not more so. I cover them up with SPF 5,000 to protect them, then I put it on me to show solidarity. If I truly believe that my children should be proud of who they are and the hand genetics dealt them, then I have to lead by example. We tell our daughters that they are beautiful just the way they are and to stay out of the sun and then we don't show our legs unless they are bronzed. Talk about your mixed messages.
This is basically my long winded way of warning you all that I will be sporting white legs and arms this year (again). I will not be getting any intentional sun, spraying a tan, or getting tinted lotion. I am a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant and that is not changing. I am accepting my color, or lack thereof, and choosing to be satisfied with what I have, or don't have, as the case may be. I'm writing it out here so that I can't chicken out and cave.