NOW THAT SUMMER HAS REARED ITS WAY INTO OUR LIVES AGAIN, LEGS ARE MAKING A COMEBACK AFTER A GOOD FIVE-MONTH HIATUS. IN OUR NEW BEAUTY COLUMN, GEORGIE BRADLEY DISCUSSES OUR FIXATION WITH BEING TANNED.
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 am half Greek as well as English. The former should have blessed me with olive skin – a remark I get from most who learn my heritage who 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. 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 pressure (self- inflicted) to sizzle like a roast each day to achieve the ‘healthy’ 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. 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 my sister, love her to bits, told me to wear tanned tights to her wedding in August last year because otherwise “it will look like we invited a ghost”. I did not.
“PALE MEANS YOU’RE NOT CHASING MANUFACTURED IDEALS”
Now that everyone is in the holiday spirit, resorts around the world are starting to see sun-bed snatching tourists wanting as much exposure as possible to get that look done and dusted to later show as a sign of a well-spent holiday on Instagram and then in person for the full effect. While that may be happening in places like Cebu in The Philipines, the locals hold up umbrellas as a shield to the sun for historical and present reasons – the darker you were the more gypsy you came across on the social hierarchy and because there is still a western complex: being Caucasian is cool, apparently. I guess it’s just like the want for curly or straight hair. You want that which you cannot (at least permanently) have.
I am forever baring my blue veined pins, a noticeable neck/jawline discoloration (Chanel, please do something about this!) and my badge of honour. 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. But pale is also skin-deep, remember that.