Confessions of a White Girl
Published March 29, 2006
With summer around the corner, many of us are busy reinventing our summer wardrobes and nailing down vacation plans.
And then there are those of us who are about to become socially unacceptable. Or at least unhip. I’m not sure which is worse.
I’m talking about us white girls. The white girls like me who are mostly Irish. We just don’t seem to tan very well.
We’re reminded — quite painfully — every March. After the fall and winter seasons, during which our alabaster skin has been hidden beneath pants and sweaters, we walk into Wal-Mart one day to be confronted by swimsuits and rows upon rows of tanning products.
Oh, yeah. It’s spring. It’s not OK to be white anymore.
Personally, I gave up on tanning the natural way years ago. The last stab I took at it was during the months leading up to my wedding. Concerned that my wedding guests might have trouble determining where my skin stopped and my dress began, I started making regular visits to a tanning bed.
Those are great places to take naps, by the way.
Once I was hitched, that was it. I had been to high school reunions and had seen the hardcore sun goddesses from the ‘80s who now looked ten years older than the rest of us. And I realized that skin cancer was very real and not just some myth made up by older folks to scare us. No more sun for me, thanks.
So what is a white girl to do?
Thanks to modern technology, we can now get darker skin where we get our hair color — out of a bottle.
But sunless tanning products present a whole new set of challenges to those of us who are pigmentationally challenged.
For one thing, they can make you turn strange colors. A celebrity columnist recently described Paris Hilton’s bottle-derived skin color as “pure-as-the-driven-Cheeto orange.” What’s unsettling to me is that Paris probably has enough cash to fund a cure for skin cancer. If she can’t find a sunless tanner that works, where does that leave the rest of us?
Sunless tanners can also streak, leaving you looking less like a bronze beauty and more like an orange-and-white zebra. It’s a look that could catch on... but don’t hold your breath.
Unless you’re applying some sunless tanning lotion. Because it smells really, really weird. Even though these products have improved drastically in the last five years or so, I have yet to find one that doesn’t smell like laundry left in the washer too long. I call it “Eau de Desperate White Girl.”
So, we’re not big on skin cancer, we don’t want to age before we have to and we don’t want to walk around looking like extreme University of Texas fans. What options do we have?
Here’s one. Let’s love our skin the way God gave it to us, get a cute swimsuit and hit the beach, anyway. (With a high-SPF sunscreen, of course.) If people don’t like it, they can wear shades.
For more information on summer skin safety, visit www.skincancer.org.