Summer Beauty

I seem to be bombarded by advertisements that insist there is still time to get my body “bikini ready”.  If I can’t sculpt, shape or melt away areas of my body, I can visit one of the many tanning salons that seem to be popping up on every corner.  Or I could take a safer route and get a spray tan.  Safer, yes.  But it is not for me.

I admit that in my early twenties, I gave in to the modern belief that for caucasian females, tan skin is pretty skin. Bake yourself and get that glow. We seem to live in fear of being pasty.  Pale skin is seen as unhealthy, which is odd since the darkening or reddening of my fair skin is literally a sign of damage.  Now in my late thirties, I have grown to love my natural skin.  I use sunscreen even in winter to protect it. I don’t understand why this strikes people as odd.  Yet it must, judging by how often well-meaning acquaintances comment on it.  “Don’t you like the sun?”  “Don’t you want a beautiful tan?”  Once, at an event with my husband, a man we knew made a comment that suggested my husband probably wanted me to get a tan.  “No,” my husband protested.  “She looks beautiful!”  I will never forget how that guy’s face stretched into this strange sneer, implying disgust.  Ouch. Why are we so close minded?  Why can’t people be open to the idea that this notion of tan skin being prettier is nothing more than societal conditioning?

This is nothing new. We know tanning is dangerous.  Were the Victorians any safer in their pursuit of beauty because they prized pale skin?  Quite the opposite, given some of the dangerous methods they chose. Belladonna to brighten the eyes is just one of many examples of the risky methods they used in order to enhance their looks.  So, while I don’t want to completely glamorize the Victorian sense of beauty and imply that they didn’t have their own forms of societal conditioning, I would like to say that the Victorian aesthetic (minus corsets) appeals to me far more than a modern one.  And that’s ok.  A totally different style may appeal to you. My ultimate point is that I wish that we would take a less conformist approach to beauty and that each individual can embrace what works for them without fear of ridicule. You may not like my pale skin, but your bad manners in pointing it out is something I consider to be quite ugly. Let’s not shame each other into mainstream ideas of perfection.

Forget bikini bodies. Forget tans.  Here’s my version of summer beauty:

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10 thoughts on “Summer Beauty

  1. This is so timely. Thank you! I keep hearing people talk about bronzer and the need to get some color for the summer. While I think those with naturally tanned skin look beautiful, it’s not a judgement on my own color.

    • Thank you! Yes, I agree. My own daughter has gorgeous, olive skin. I think we should all just stop creating a ‘one size fits all approach and embrace the beauty of all natural skin tones.

  2. I’m naturally a little dark, I tan easy, but I’m no fool. I try to stay out of the sun. However, my daughter is very pale and I’ve done what I hope is an excellent job of not letting her be conditioned by society’s ideas of skin color and tanning. She’s 15 and she loves her natural skin tone. She burns very easily, so it’s important to stay protected. Her other side of the family just doesn’t get it at all. They are constantly telling her she needs more sun. I find it infuriating, but I’m thankful she thinks they are nuts! LOL

  3. Like you I have very pale skin and red hair, I am stunned by the comments I receive from people, “why don’t you get a tan? You should sit out in the sun a bit, it will toughen up your skin so it will tan.” Ermm hello I completely lack any skin pigment and as to toughening up my skin I prefer it soft and white rather than sore, red and wrinkled.

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