Pale. Reflective. Lacking melanin. Blinding.
My whole life-all 35 years of it- I’ve been light skinned. Not just kind of tanned or even slightly rosy, I’m a creamy shade of pale.
As a child, I had freckles. The summer would start with my nose and cheeks lightly sprinkled with light brown dots. By the end of the summer, the tip of my nose was a solid freckle and my arms, legs, and back sprayed with miniature splotches.
Regardless of the truckloads of sunscreen my mother and I would apply, I’d burn and peel. Burn and peel. Burn and peel. Burn. Blister. Peel. Blister. Peel. Back to white.
My sisters both received enough dominant genetics from my mom’s darker eastern European heritage to tan. I, seemingly, obtained all recessive genes and favor my dad’s side.
School wasn’t any better. With only a couple of pale, freckled friends, everyone around me always had a healthy glow…. and the glow wasn’t just the gym light reflecting off their legs during basketball season.
Thru the years, I tried tanning beds for special events like prom. “Your body will build up tolerance to the sun” is what people would tell me. Ummm… about that….
I’d mow the yard without sunscreen on my legs- only slathering it on my shoulders, neck, arms, and face. I tried spray tanning (Ooompa Loompa!) All of my attempts to be non-reflective turned out to be utter failures.
After having a suspicious mole removed from my hair line in college, I gave up completely. Truly. I’m now a sunscreen loving, long-sleeve wearing, floppy hat, be kind to your skin advocate.
Isn’t it strange how it takes awhile to accept certain attributes about ourselves? Typically, these are the characteristics on the outside- the ones we think others are focusing on. Ooooh, those judgy eyes and snarky quips that start when we’re kids dig deep and embed into our being. It takes years to work those mean, lingering voices out.
The fact is these small peer observations don’t actually make us who we are. I’m no better or no worse because I’m pale. It doesn’t affect who I am in my soul. I’m simply me packaged in a creamy shade of pale on the outside.
Simply put: Some of us are born to be in the sun. Some of us are meant to wear a hat.