By the time you read this, it will be piping hot outside and most of you will match the weather system with a ‘lit from within’ tan.
But if you could see me you’d understand why I’m about to sing the praises of paleness. I am Casper, a fridge, a snowflake, an ill-looking shade of white. The mirror, mirror on the wall agrees. What doesn’t help my case is the fact that I’m half Mediterranean. This statement of fact should have blessed me with olive skin – a remark I get from most who learn my heritage and then peer down at my legs as if I should surgically add the skin colour that should have been my birth right.
Living in the region doesn’t help either – the smugness about having permanent holiday tans is as rampant as Friday brunch. What this means in practical terms is, everyone tries not to look like a limb that’s just come out of a plaster cast, unless, of course, extreme pallor is your thing – at which point, cool, do you!
According to my friends back in the U.K I should have a yearlong glow that never fades. Putting our arms out and comparing how bronzed we are is an obsolete game, because I always lose. I do not however, care. I do not curse my genetic makeup for my see- throughness. I do not worship the sun nor bottles of fake bake. I see people looking like leathered goods and I know what it has taken for them to look like that – because in the past, every time I’d go back to Greece, I was under (self-inflicted) pressure to sizzle like a spit roast each day to achieve that ‘lit within’ look. And the thing is, I do tan very well, as if my Greek side lays dormant until the Hellenic sun kisses me and I’m allowed to be more goddess-like in complexion. This internalised idea that it is ‘healthy’ though, is purely ironic.
We know of the stats and figures on skin cancer but we dismiss it with youthful ignorance. But I’m not writing about the health implications of being tanned, but about the fact that pale-shaming is all too common.
What was once a mark of beauty and class is now a sight for sore eyes. Pale people are made to feel like they haven’t truly lived (under the sun) and aren’t outgoing – as if we live under a rock till the oil-slick crowd come back from all the fun. And because the weather is warmer, I am the token statue at all gatherings. I always get teased for how white I am; my limbs get prodded like dead fish that might be still alive. Even a ‘love-her-to-bits’ friend, told me to wear tanned tights to her wedding a few years ago because otherwise it would be considered a heinous act of wanton provocation. “It will look like we invited a ghost,” she said. I did not.
Thankfully though, perceptions and industry standards are changing. The argument is now: don’t aggressively resist your genetic make-up – wherever you sit on the shade spectrum.
I proudly bare my blue veined pins as a badge of honour. My noticeably stark neck/jawline discolouration is now a thing of the past (Greatly appreciated, Chanel!). Make-up artists in department stores are slowly evolving from wanting to ‘warm me up’ to a ‘toasty beige’ shade to going by my natural undertones and that’s that. Pale is pretty in its own, whimsical way.
Pale means you’re not chasing after manufactured, quite frankly under-performing ideals. Pale is what Anne Hathaway and Nicole Kidman are. Pale is what you are, if you are pale.
And FYI, nobody is ‘toasty beige’.