Sometimes I think maybe it is too early too talk about this, better luck in 10 years. But I can't help but wanting to say certain things about skin color, the tanning craze and all the pros and cons.
I will try to break this up into many different posts, each one focusing on a different part of the whole topic, slowly building up towards what I want to bring across.
And this one is simply some well meant article about trends, body image, combined with some knowledge and experiences.
History of Tanning
But the years after, it was simply a summery thing to do and was rarely overdone.
With the tanning bed becoming more advanced however and the self tanner being introduced, a whole new trend started. Being tan was now not only a thing of the summer, it was a must. Celebs like Christina Aguilera promoted the trend. Living in Germany at that time, I remember many girls liking the fact that they had the option of looking less like 'themselves', I guess for many it was at first just a new and exiting thing to try, like a new hair cut. But some simply liked the fact that they could look a bit more exotic, and a little less pale German (dyeing hair darker is just a popular as bleaching hair in Northern Europe).
My own history
Little by little, people started getting used to it. It was always a good thing to be the one that tans easily and never burns, but now people wanted to be like that more than ever. Formerly pale friends declared to me that their skin simply is like that, darker than average. And I honestly think they were not completely lieing about that. Some seemed to have forgotten how light they can get, because they kept up the tan.
That of course altered the perception of skin color and anyone that was not at least 'beige', was now declared unbelievably pale. I was one of the 'darker girls' in Elementary school, I'm a brunette, my mother is a tan mediterranean type (Spaniard/ southern french heritage). But by the time I started going to college I was suddenly referred to as "unbelievably pale", and it was considered 'ugly'.
I was never a fan of baking.... normal outdoor activities, like my time spent on the horseranch do not get me tan really, the German Sun was simply too weak for me. So unless I was vacationing in Southern Europe, I made use of a bottle of self tanner, for the face and the body.
I never overdid it, and sometimes people still told me I was pale (!!), but I was always slightly tan year round. Over time it just became me, I got used to it. People were sort of expecting it too because of the way I looked -dark brows, dark hair (then even dyed a bit darker) and not really a german face to begin with.
Years passed and the trend was still strong, meeting my American (now Ex) husband I also met another thing - racial controversy. My Ex husband (Puerto Rican) told me he had never been with a "white woman"...hm..."white woman"..., almost sounds like something 'tribal' I thought. Now living among (Military) Americans, I got to experience the diversion of the races/cultures that is going on in multicultural America. When someone called me a "pale cracker" or "blankita" or simply told me to get a tan, it occured to me for the first time that this is a really sensitive issue. It would not be okay for me to go around and insult someone about their skin color and then say "go bleach yourself" or something, so why is it okay the other way??
Summer 2000 this is me in tan after 2 weeks of Italy
My husband then got deployed to Iraq, and I dropped everything I had done to alter my looks just like that, hair dye, fake tan, fake nails, tight jeans and low cut tops...etc., I was not doing it for me, I realized that then.
I was also studying Science at that time, and over hair biology I came across skin biology and took part in interesting courses and seminars, even experiments about skin health, and also sun safety. Know knowing how tanning can really damage the skin I felt uncomfortable.
During the deployment I did not spend any time with anything Military or US related, neighbours in Military housing noticed the changes, also me getting paler every month, same with my German coworkers, but I did not care, this is what I really look like and I'm tired trying to look like something I'm not.
I admitted to my husband all the fake things I used to do, and that I had stopped. I was a little afraid of his reaction, but to my surprise he liked it and said that he never understood why I did all these things.
left: 2002, sun tan + self tanner + eyeliner, right: 2009, just me
Ever since I am "cured" I would say. I view the whole tanning thing from a distant view point now. Been there, done that, but I decided it just does not make sense. The natural skin color is not something that should be changed...I mean, how did people ever get the idea that something is wrong with ones natural skin color?
And that leads us to the next part...