Unna-tan-able: A Pale Girl’s Story

Its summer and the Australian sun is beating down on you like Mike Tyson at the end of a throw down. Everyone is laughing, having fun. But you? You’re the one sitting under the tree in the floppy hat, sun glasses and SPF 150+, desperately trying to avoid contact with those deadly rays.

It’s not your fault you burn and freckle faster than an egg scrambles on a hot rock and there isn’t anything you can do about it. Which sucks because the best part about summer is supposed to be getting all those sickly white bits of flesh out of their restrictive denim holdings and unleashing them with gay abandon. It’s hard being someone confined to life under the tree, and in more ways than one.

There is the endless sunscreen application because if you forget for even half a second your face will suddenly turn maroon and peel off like a prosthetic only far more painful and slightly less cool than in the movies. Because you’re no super villain you’re just excessively white.

You have to wear extra layers and avoid climates that may put you ‘At Risk’ which is basically anywhere with windows or open sky. Try avoiding that in the country. I dare you.

One of the worst is the endless comparisons that are sure to ensue when summer draws to a close and your bronzed friends draw back their sleeves for a close up inspection of the differing levels of pigmentation on your forearms. It’s funny but it’s also kind of awkward after the eleventh time in one afternoon. And then they grab you by the wrist and start dragging you around for further consultation like the colour of your skin is so white as to be impossible to identify without a team of consultants.

But possibly the worst affliction us poor pale-iens suffer with is the drop in self confidence that comes when standing under the bright lights of anywhere that isn’t a dark room. Ever had a scar and thought it had all but disappeared, only to get in the bright sunlight and realise it was still visible? Imagine that but your ENTIRE BODY! Change rooms are the worst because their fluorescent glow only serves to deter us from ever stepping foot in public every again, regardless of how nice the garment is. We invariably purchase less and hate on ourselves a bit more when we see our bodies in the unflatteringly unfiltered reflection.

So in our haste to escape from the store we almost overlook the one thing that is supposed to be, by all professional accounts our saviour. The gradual tanner. Spray tans are just not an option; if you have ever cut a pumpkin and checked out your hands afterwards you can probably guess how that might look on our most delicate of organs. But does tanning gradually actually make it more passable, more realistic? Is it possible that we might look almost, dare I say it, human?!

I’m bright white enough to be a traffic hazard by the time winter is over, so of late the idea has been looking more and more appealing to me. But there are a few mighty drawbacks that have me rethinking the whole affair.

Firstly, it takes a few hours to settle and absorb into the skin. If we don’t enjoy walking around in a bathing suit all exposed, then why would we be anymore comfortable spending four hours in our knickers trying very hard not to sweat, crease or accidentally smudge anything important?

Secondly, people are going to notice you aren’t as pale as you were a few weeks ago and no matter how hard you try to convince them, they are never going to believe it’s real. Especially when they can see the line on the back of your neck where no one ever told you to blend it into your hairline. #whoops

And third, and this is possibly the most important, gradual tanners don’t actually stop you from burning. At all. Tinted sunscreen might but something that you want to last a few days after you get out of the water isn’t going to stop you getting mightily burnt in the meantime. Which as we all know means pealing, then patchy skin, more freckles on your freckles and if your lucky, a slightly tinted patch on one foot where you might possibly have incidentally coloured in the sun. It’d be a miracle, but it’d be just your luck.

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