My pale skin story: “why are you so pale?”

Hi guys!

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!


14 thoughts on “My pale skin story: “why are you so pale?”

  1. lrrraburns says:

    I once got a taxi driver in Las Vegas (where I was absolutely always the palest person in every room) ask where I was from and when I replied he said “do they not have sun in New Zealand?” rude! I think it’s funny (not funny) how in western culture, tan is the ultimate beauty ideal, but if you go to places in asia, they want to be paler and more white! it’s kind of horrible.

    • Lilyrosette says:

      It’s so rude when people do that. I know it all too well. Yes, that’s true, in Asia (especially Japan) they often go out of their way to look more pale. And even try bleachingsolutions which are horrible for the skin. That whilst I tried to look more tan for years.

  2. emmadotsophie says:

    Very well said 🙂 I live in Japan now so my pale skin is finally getting the recognition it deserves! I spent years being jealous of my sister too, with her beautiful tanned skin. Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder (and the cultural influence affecting that beholder)

    • Lilyrosette says:

      Indeed! Wow you live in Japan? Been wanting to visit Japan for years but I live in Belgium and the planetickets are just crazy-expensive! But hopefully one day :D. You probably get a lot of compliments on your fair skin there! Is it really such a culture shock?

      • emmadotsophie says:

        Yeah I’ve been living here for about 15 month now. It’s great. I love Japan. I studied Japanese and knew a lot about the culture before coming over, so it wasn’t much of a culture shock for me. I’d also come over on holidays a couple of times. It’s a beautiful country, you should definitely come. Hang the expense! 😉 I teach at ECC, which is a great company, and allows me to travel around for a lot less than a plane ticket from Australia each time!

  3. KatelynnRachelle says:

    I live near Seattle, WA where there is no sun, and people still comment on how pale I am. My husband has dark skin, so every once in a while I feel hopelessly pale! I have to remind myself that tanning is bad for my skin.

  4. Vanessa Felix says:

    I’m sorry you have to deal with rude people remarking on your skin tone. I think your skin tone’s absolutely beautiful! I hope every time you have someone that asks you “why are you so pale” you remember that people are just people and as rude as it can sound, take it as if they’re marveling at your beauty. Your skin tone makes you stand out, and the reality is thankfully it’s pale skin and not some type of skin disease or deformity. so next time you get that question I hope you answer with “because I’m just that lucky”!

    • Lilyrosette says:

      Thank you so much! I think it’s unbelievable that people are being so rude about this. But indeed I’ve taught myself not to care too much and to take it as a compliment. I think the key is to learn to love yourself. xx

  5. effiewright11 says:

    This is such a clever post, you can tell you studied literature – it’s so well written!
    People always say the same thing to my younger sister – she has very pale skin, green eyes and dark, straight hair, she looks sort of Irish? When people nag her to get some sun she always ignores them – she’d much rather have healthy skin!
    As you said, beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder, and more often than not the look that suits you best is what’s natural and healthy for you. I think makeup, tan, and other beauty regimes should always enhance what you have, not distort it (unless you get spots, like me! haha) As you have that pre-Raphaelite look, you’re definitely sorted in the beauty department!
    Oh, by the way, I’ve heard Dainty Doll makeup stocks a lot of shades at the lighter end of the scale. I haven’t tried it myself, but if it’s good it might save you from having to mix 🙂 xx

    • Lilyrosette says:

      That’s so sweet! And such a great complement coming from you! Especially because I feel like my English isn’t good enough sometimes to express what I really mean. Oh, wow your sister must be so pretty. Do you know what foundation she uses? And yes, I’ve been trying to get my hands on some Dainty Doll foundation but they’re becoming less and less available.(I think they went out of business?) And the places where they’re still in stock have the wrong colours for me. Too bad though, because I think it was such a great idea by Nicola Roberts. She does know the struggle! So, I’m still on the hunt for that perfect foundation 😀 xx

      • effiewright11 says:

        It was well deserved! Your English is perfect, and your writing is brilliant on top of that. Many people struggle to write well in their native language, let alone in another one. Yes I actually googled Dainty Doll the other day and found that their website looks a bit bare, I think they are going out of business 😦 shame. My sister used the Benefit ‘Some Kinda Gorgeous’ for a little while, and really liked a Lancome foundation which she got a sample of once, but I’m afraid I can’t remember which one it was. She doesn’t really use foundation because she didn’t inherit the acne gene. Lucky thing! My cousins are both pale with naturally red hair though, and they are big fans of MAC Studio Fix in NW15 and Estee Lauder Double Wear in ‘Shell’. They fake tan sometimes, but hopefully you’ll find a shade you like within that selection! xx

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