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I’m Okay With My Pale Self

It’s taken me almost thirty years but I think I’ve finally accepted something about myself. I’m not tan. For years I pretended that I could compete with tan people, but the fact of the matter is, I come from an ancestry that consists mostly of northern European blood. We are not tan people. We have pale skin that turns pink when we are cold or embarrassed. We do not have bronze skin that glows after being in the sun. We have pale white skin that radiates bright pink at the mere mention of the sun.

Oddly, I haven’t always known this about my skin. As a child, spending most of my summer outdoors, I thought perhaps I had beaten the odds. While my brother acquired more and more freckles each summer, I somehow was able to avoid the freckles and gain some color. I burned a little but I also tanned. I wasn’t the tannest person in the crowd, but I held my own.

And of course, there was the summer of 2000. That summer will forever be referred to as “My Tan Summer.” It was the summer between high school and college and I was doing a whole lot of nothing. I spent one week at the beach with friends, another week at the beach with family and another week on a Caribbean cruise. By the time I left for college, I was the tannest I’d ever been. Or will ever be again, for that matter. I remember my first week in college someone asked me if I was a lifeguard because I was so tan. After she said that, I made a mental note to make sure she became my best friend. It never hurts to have someone like that around for the ego.

But the summer of 2000 was an anomaly. The summers that followed were spent indoors at internships and later, full-time jobs. When I had my first child, I was so careful to keep him out of the sun, which meant keeping myself out of the sun.

And so, these days, summers come and go and I barely have a farmer’s tan. I stay pale year round. I’m okay with that. I’ve read enough articles stating the fact that people who burn easily are at an increased risk for skin cancer. I’m not going to force a look I was never meant to have. Whenever I begin to doubt, I remind myself that in the long run, I’m making a healthy choice for my body. I’m also doing my future self a favor by keeping unnecessary wrinkles away.

I’m not tan. I’m never going to be tan. And I’m okay with that.