Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Confessions of a White Girl

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

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


  • At Wed Mar 29, 06:17:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yesterday I tried on a cute sundress. I'm soooo white! At exercise class I try to stand away from the mirror... b/c I'm too white! This only bothers me at the beginning of Spring. After that I'd rather have fun w/ my girls than worry about other people's reactions.

  • At Wed Mar 29, 08:24:00 AM, Blogger Meredith said…

    My former college roommate was a sun goddess and now at 33 she is fighting cancer. She has to have treatments for a year and has started to loose her hair. It has given my family a wake up call in being more responsible in the sun and not worry so much about how white I am.

  • At Wed Mar 29, 09:29:00 AM, Blogger Jacinda said…

    Hilarious! Being a redhead, I found this post to be great!

  • At Wed Mar 29, 09:36:00 AM, Blogger Mae said…

    Last year I bought a bottle of the Jergen's tanning lotion... expecting to not be very impressed and quite striped, I shelled out the $7 anyway. I was surprised at the outcome ~ not streaky, overly Oompa-Loopma-ish or bad on the knees and ankles... but the smell ~ for a preggers girl was still pretty bad. I covered it the best I could w/ my trusty Country Apple Spray from Bath & BOdy and went on w/ life.

    {This year I'm thinking of using it on the baby... so our skintones match and just so she doesnt' get an early white girl complex!}

  • At Wed Mar 29, 11:27:00 AM, Blogger Sarah said…

    In the country where I grew up, it was considered more beautiful to be fair-skinned. It was funny when I came to the US and all my white friends were freaking out about being too pale. :) You should just move to an asian country, I tell ya. They'd call you a goddess. :)

  • At Wed Mar 29, 12:57:00 PM, Blogger Angela said…

    I'm a redheaded, freckled white girl and I grew up hating spring and summer and the shorts and sleeveless tops that go with it! I NEVER wore shorts away from my own home. I went to summer camp and all of my brother's soccer and baseball games in jeans. It took a move halfway across the country, to coastal North Carolina, to convince me that it was time to give it up!! I realized that when you go to the beach you look more like a freak if you're all covered up than if you're white as a sheet. I decided it's more important to feel comfortable in the hot sun than to care what someone I don't even know thinks about how I look. I still prefer turtle necks and jeans, and every Spring I'm reluctant to venture forth in my shorts...but come June and July, shield your eyes 'cause this white girl will be showing some leg!!

  • At Wed Mar 29, 07:49:00 PM, Blogger HW said…

    I have also always dreaded summer because of my fair skin. Until I realized that my tan friends have more wrinkles on their faces than I do. Now my 12 year old daughter is frustrated with her pale skin. I remind her that as long as she protects the skin she was given she will always look younger than she would if she tried to tan and she will be healthier also. Peer pressure abounds at all ages - even for us moms.

  • At Thu Mar 30, 04:21:00 AM, Blogger Beverly said…

    pretty fly for a white girl

  • At Thu Mar 30, 01:53:00 PM, Blogger Sarah P said…

    I strategically married a man with the ability to tan so that our children would have a chance.

    (By the way, I'm hooked on Jergen's Natural Glow)

  • At Thu Mar 30, 04:38:00 PM, Blogger Deana Nall said…

    Sarah P. -- I'm doing the glow, too, baby!

  • At Fri Mar 31, 08:35:00 AM, Blogger Kyle said…

    I agree with Sarah that fair skin is more beautiful. Even some of our own American and Hollywood beauties are fair skinned. Look at Nicole Kidman or Claire Danes. Sure, they aren't cover models, but they are better. They are natural beauty and that's what I personnally find beautiful.f

  • At Fri Mar 31, 12:26:00 PM, Blogger SJ said…

    I'm right there with you white girl. I damaged my skin as a teenager and have had three skin cancer spots removed in the last 2 years. I will be a pale white girl from now on.


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