Fake Tan: Do You Really Need It?
"Man, you're pale...you feeling OK?"
My whole life my skin has been whiter than snow itself, which, when combined with being naturally skinny and very small, always drew eyes in my direction, and not in a good way. Growing up, the doctors used to take my parents to one side and ask them if I was alright because I looked "a bit pasty". They'd say, "No, that's just what colour she is!" Consequently, I'd always been self-conscious of my skin colour.
But one day, at the age of about 9, I was walking down the highstreet hand in hand with my Nanna, and - this I'll always remember - she bought a white rose, handed it to me, came down to my level and spoke from her heart: "You're a beautiful English Rose and don't you ever forget that."
Although my sisters also have fair skin like mine, they chose to cover theirs up with a little thing called fake-tan. My older sister would constantly be wishing that one day she'd tan, even though it was impossible. And each time they stepped out of the bathroom ready for their nights out, hair curled beautifully, their fake-tanned skin glowing a "healthy" golden colour, I looked at them and thought, "Yes, they look beautiful. Yes, they fit in...but it's not them. It's not who they are."
"Whatever your skin colour, be it Snow White or Black Beauty, be proud, stay true and never change."
Wearing false tan makes a lot of women feel more confident and more comfortable in their skin. But our skin is a part of our identity. English people tend to have paler skin from their Viking origin, African people tend to have darker skin, and so on. There are millions of people on this planet, and not one of us is the same. Not one. So why do we try to make ourselves the same by painting our skin like everyone else's? It's not you.
"Imperfection is Beauty, Madness is Genius and it's better to be absolutely rediculous than absolutely boring" - Marilyn Monroe
Not all of our role models are plastered in false-tan. Kate Winslet and Nicole Kidman are both stunningly beautiful, fair-skinned women who haven't given in to the pressure of the tabloids and "shoulds and shouldn'ts" of today. And if they can do it, so can we. "Be thin," "Be tanned" - let's face it, it's not realistic. For those who are naturally thin and naturally tanned, fantastic! But not everyone's build is cut out to be thin and not everyone's chromosomes tell them their skin will tan. Being thin and tanned are just specific traits that have been picked out of hundreds of others and percieved as beauty in our society. But why?
If you tan, great. If you burn, unlucky. There's nothing you can do that will change whether you tan or burn. But here's a fact: people with paler skin tend to be the ones who burn - half an hour in the sun and I'm the colour of a tomato! - and those with darker skin tend to be the ones who tan. It makes sense. But there are scientific pros and cons to having both light and dark skin.
Pro: Paler skin absorbs Vitamin D, an important vitamin naturally aquired from sun exposure, more than daker skin.
Con: Paler skin is more exposed to UV radiation from the sun due to the skin's fewer melanin pigments (pigments in the skin which determin skin colour and help protect against UV radiation). UV radiation is a major cause of skin cancer.
[Note: You still burn even when you wear fake-tan - false-tanning won't change your skin type!]
Pro: Darker skin has more melanin pigmentation to protect against UV raditation from the sun.
Con: Darker skin doesn't absorb as much Vitamin D from sun exposure, although it can also be aquired from foods and supplements.
~ Human Skin ~
Whatever shade, human skin is amazing. It's waterproof, it's tough, it endures being bashed into things every day, it repaires itself when it gets cut, it allows you to feel all kinds of textures and temperatures...the list goes on. Not to mention it's the largest organ in the body. So at least do it one favour...let it breathe.
By Daniella Wood
© 2009 by Daniella Wood. All rights reserved. Copying without permission is illegal and will be prosecuted.