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Tuesday 22 February 2011

Beautiful Summer Pallor

You know what I really hate? That as soon as summer comes along, the big fashion "must" is to get instantly tan and bronzed...and if you have pale skin, better hit the tanning salon or start fake baking. I truly think this trend is strongly influenced by the many beauty companies that have created a multi-billion dollar industry selling tanning products, self-tanners, bronzers, and the like. Ads in magazines showing perfectly bronzed beauties, supposedly lying on a yacht all day in the French Riviera sipping champagne and celebrating parties later to be seen on Girls Gone Wild, make us paler girls and boys feel rather alienesque. Fair skin is on the "out" lists and women are advised to hop to it and do something about that horrible, sickly, white skin.

Enter the many beauty companies selling us fake tanners, makeup collections featuring lots of bronzers, and all-inclusive packages to tanning salons where we throw our skin's health to the wind and say hello to skin pigmentation spots, premature aging, wrinkles, or even cancer, all to be that enviable tanned beauty in a beautiful summer bikini.

Now some may call me a hypocrite as I once bought a package at a tanning salon myself when I lived in Montreal and the winter bleakness was getting to me. I can't deny that I got some sort of satisfaction being tan and feeling summery as I lay in the bed, roasting my skin. I have, however, learned from my mistakes, and after that one forray into tanning, I soon realized that having a tan wasn't worth the damage to my skin.

On the endless quest to be tan, I decided to broaden my horizons into self-tanners, and tried everything from low end to high end. The results varied, some better and some worse, but in the end I always ended up looking more orange or yellow than my natural tan color, because my base color was so white. I have seen some self-tanners look ok on those who already have darker or olive complexions, but on really white skin, I never had a good result. And then there's the smell too! No matter how much perfume there was in those things, they always had a horrible, faint undertone that just was disgusting.

And let's not forget the horrible oompa loompa syndrome!

Far from attractive.

A few years ago I decided enough was enough and just threw away all my self-tanners and decided natural was miles better than anything smelly out of a bottle could provide. I slather on the SPF now when I go to the pool, knowing that I'll still look years younger than my tanorexic counterparts when they hit 40. So what if my legs aren't baked bronze when I wear shorts? This is the skin I was born with - it's fair, sensitive to UV light, and doesn't tan easily nor hold a tan well. And you know what? That's ok. I'm content with using just a smidgen of bronzer on my cheeks when I feel like, making sure not to overdo it, and I'll get a tan naturally by spending time outdoors in the summer doing activities. I'm not going to ruin my skin by baking in the full sun for hours just so that I look "healthy". I'm not going to waste my money anymore on expensive self-tanners or tanning salons because other people expect it, or tell me I "need to get a tan." And yes, I have been told this frequently by ignorant gits! So go pale this summer; you'll be in good company! ;)

Bridget Regan, actress from Legend of the Seeker

Liv Tyler

Anne Hathaway

Dita Von Teese

Dakota Fanning

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