Today’s post is a quite heavily charged issue and a bit controversial. But I’ve been thinking about this all day and finally came up with the right words. I hope it’s something some of you can relate to and can sink your teeth into.
Yesterday, yet again, I got the question: “why are you so pale?”. First of all I want to say that I was born with a full head of reddish hair. Although I do like my red-blonde hair, as you know a pale skin, often with freckles comes along with it. In my case an extremely pale, ivory skin but without the freckles. It’s sad but true that people with red hair are often bullied. This was also the case for me when I was younger. I must say I wasn’t often bullied for the colour of my hair but far more for the colour of my skin. By the time I was 10 years old I became so self-conscious of my pale skin that I absolutely HATED it.
I was so jealous of people with darker, tanned skin. I was even jealous of my own sister. She has very light blonde hair and lovely yellowish, sun tanned skin. After the period of absolutely hating my own skin came the time that I wanted to do everything to get a tan. Sunbathing is virtually impossible for me because I just get a massive sunburn (even with spf) and a bit of freckles and after a week or two that’s completely gone again. It’s also very damaging for the skin and I’m so happy I never really went overboard on the sun tanning because my mother was so clever of forbidding me to do so :D. I’m so thankful for that because it’s only later that you can see the damage it has done. After I had realized how damaging the sun really is, I discovered “the fake tan!”. At that time I felt like it was the most amazing thing I had ever discovered and used. When I look back at pictures of that time I can tell you with certainty that it definitely wasn’t! I looked HORRIBLE. I owned every self-tanning lotion or spray you can imagine and they were all way too orange for me and I had patches and orange spots everywhere. I aslo dyed my hair blonde and it was the worst thing I have ever done for my hair. My hair had never been more dry, damaged and thin.
Looking back I just can’t believe that I just couldn’t accept myself as I really was. It was only about four years ago, when I started studying at the university my body image changed. I studied English and Dutch literature and came across a lot of references to beauty of past eras/times. There were countless discriptions of “beautiful” women and they all had lily white, ivory skin. This got me thinking about skin colour and beauty in general and how it all has to do with perception. Do we really need to fit in the image of beauty of our time? What has changed so much that pale skin became a complete no-no! I did some research and found that it was the one and only Coco Chanel who changed the image when she came back from her holiday in the Mediterranean sun with a bronzed skin and declared “A girl simply has to be tanned“. Thanks ever so much Coco! Just kidding! I don’t really believe that she was the only reason the ideals changed but she probably did play quite a big part in it. The fact that certain things do get in and out of fashion is a normality but I think it’s awful when people get bullied or rejected just because their looks, nature, colour, hair, skintype, whatever doesn’t fit into that fashion “hype” of the moment. Even if that “moment” takes up about 90 years :D, as in my case.
I’m so happy that I’ve learned to accept my skin colour and that I’ve learned to love and embrace it, even though it took me 18years to realize how pretty it can be. Although I still like tanned skin, I think it’s only pretty when it’s natural or it looks natural. I stronlgy believe that natural beauty is the only beauty. There’s nothing more pretty than somebody embracing his/her natural look and enhancing it (by make-up, fashion,..) and not trying to change or hide it.
Although I have accepted myself and my skin colour, I still hate it whenever I get questions or remarks like “Why are you so pale?”, “You need to get some sun“, “Do you even leave your house?“, “Are you sick?“.What makes people think it’s ok to ask something like that? Would you ask or say things like that to someone with a darker skin? No you wouldn’t. For some reason it’s generally accepted that tan means health/ beauty and that everybody fits in to that ideal. Whilst this is not the case. I’m not healthy because I have a bit of a tan. If that’s the case it means that I’ve spent hours and hours in the sun and that my skin is severely damaged.
Moral of the story here however is that it’s just not acceptable to comment on someone’s skin colour whether pale or dark. And that if you feel good and are happy with the way you look that’s the only thing that matters. Everybody is different and in his/her own natural way beautiful and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise!