Tanner Than Thou: Why I'm Okay With Being Opalescent
Posted Jul 23 2009 10:35pm
"It's official. You are the whitest person on the planet," Gym Buddy Dennis said to me after we finished Turbo Jennie's annual outdoor birthday TurboKick extravaganza tonight (seriously, it's her birthday and she brings us treats!).
As I stood there, sweating so profusely in the near-90 degree weather that my shorts looked as if I'd peed myself, Gym Buddy Megan agreed, "Yeah, when you got here, the first thing I saw coming out of your car was your legs and I was like 'Hey, there's Charlotte!'"
Dennis and Megan - you know I love you guys! - are right of course. I'm so pale that I forgot my costume one year for Halloween and everyone just assumed I was Wednesday Addams.
Being ultra pale has some advantages. First, I can rock a retro dress like nobody's business (not that I have much occasion to get all Dita Von Teese'd up but whatever, I make my own occasion!) Second, I never have to worry about buying reflective gear - all I have to do is wear shorts and I'm set. Third, people can use the word "porcelain" and my name in the same sentence without it involving a frat house, a keg and a carpet stain.
The problem comes when I'm not dressing for a garden party or a midnight run. You know, like, the rest of my life. Let's be honest: tan is in right now. Certainly ivory white skin has had its time in the sun (har!) in past generations so I'm not begrudging the bronzed folk their turn. But a tan is definitely this season's must-have accessory. Not only, as every magazine will tell you, does it make you look thinner (question: does that mean being white makes me look fatter?) but a golden glow makes you look healthier, shows muscle definition better, camouflages cellulite and looks better in casual clothes.
What's a (really) white girl to do?
I'm not going to skin cancer, I'll tell you that right now. It runs in my family and it's nasty stuff. So you can just rule actual sun kisses out. I suppose I could keep my legs covered but I tried that as a teen when for two summers in a row I refused to wear anything shorter than ankle length. Eventually I caved to comfort and decided people could just deal with my legs. That's what sunglasses are for right? Besides, tonight I was doing TurboKick. Outside. In Minnesota. In the summer. If that doesn't give everyone a free shorts pass, I don't know what would.
Another option I have is to self-tan. This is not as much fun as it sounds. In my mind that phrase conjures pictures of having the ability to change my skin color at will, like a chameleon super power. In reality it involves spreading a bunch of foul-smelling goo all over my body. And it must be all over my body because seriously what is the point of having tan legs if my arms, face and chest are white? The next problem is that self-tanning is an under appreciated art form. You have to smooth it on just right, making sure to use even strokes and skipping your knees and ankles so that you don't end up with streaks or orange spots. I always admire girls who can do it and do it right. I suppose I could always pay for a spray tan but that comes down to the real reason I don't self-tan: you have to maintain it. The definition of futility is spending your entire life literally painting your skin a different color than the one you were born with. To wit:
Was that really necessary?
At the risk of sounding like a Dove commercial, the only real solution in my book is for people to be comfortable with the skin they're in. Are you naturally brown, ebony or any shade in between? Rejoice! Flaunt it! Be proud of that your skin is beautiful without having to do a thing to it. Heaven knows it's taken society long enough to get to this point. But the flip side is also being able to embrace your epidermis if it is milky, light-n-freckled or downright fish belly.
I'm not saying it's easy. We all have things we don't like about ourselves. In fact, I've got so many things that bother me about me that I rather think you all are beyond tired of hearing about them. But you know what doesn't bug me? My skin. I dig it.
Do you have "a flaw" that you actually love? How do you feel about tanning?
PS> Was that, like, the most alliterative post title EVAH? I done myself proud:)