Fun topic. As a kid I remember being tormented daily for my not-quite-so-common fair complexion. People would jokingly ask if I was feeling okay, ask why they could see my veins through my skin or ask why I turned purple when it was the slightest bit cold out (my sister is the same way!).
In college as an RA, my residents said that I was a vampire, and people in general have always asked me when I am going to get a tan. I even remember a high school gym/health sciences teacher making unkind comments about how pale I was when I changed into my gym clothes. That's me in the middle of the picture up there, next to a naturally olive toned friend and another friend with similar but still darker complexion.
I can also be found among the group of teenagers in this old picture from high school. I don't think I need to tell you which one I am:
As a kid, these "pale is ugly" taunts used to REALLY bother me, but now that I am older and wiser (and now that we know the dangers of sun exposure), I hardly care as much. Still, I do sometimes get a little disgruntled when I get a comment on a Facebook photo that reads: "working on your tan I see," or something of the like. The fact of the matter is that I burn easily, it is very difficult for me to retain any color and, frankly, trying to get tan would be a very unhealthy idea for someone like me.
So whats the deal? We know that tanning is bad for us, and we know it is a far-fetched hope for many of us. So then why is a sun-kissed bod still such a coveted goal? Luckily for me I prefer a more alternative look and I like the somewhat goth-y scene, where fair-skinned dark haired females are accepted.
Despite all of the facts listed above, I still get made fun of by friends and sometimes complete strangers, though I have encountered a handful of gentlemen who complimented the look of my fair skin and told me they thought it was sexy. I remember being so excited when they selected the new (and now current) T-Mobile model/spokesperson. I posted pictures on Facebook and Xanga proclaiming that fair skinned people were taking things back! And I think this girl is absolutely gorgeous.
I do have to admit to laying out a few times in my life; I have done it probably half a dozen times for each of the past three summers in hopes of conditioning myself enough to not burn as horrendously from normal exposures such as walking to class. It is important to note, though, that regardless of if you burn or not UV rays are still doing their dirty work on your skin cells. Just because you make it away from a day at the beach unscathed doesn't mean your skin hasn't suffered. For me, any time I get even a mild sunburn I feel physically ill: chills, headaches, nausea, the whole bit. I've even had full blown sun sickness from a normal day out with friends.
I also can't say much in defense of tan lines, unless you have a set up where you can tan topless/nude any avid tanner is going to have some serious tan lines. Is that even attractive? I don't find them appealing on men or women, but of course that is my opinion. I know I'd rather be the same color all over instead of getting a tan yet have glowing white boobs and butt (and we have seen exactly how pale my baseline color would be!).
I guess my point with all of this is that I hope eventually being pale won't be such a hideous idea. I don't mean to degrade people with darker skin tones either; I think that anything that looks natural and isn't faked is beautiful. It's when people start trying to hopelessly change what is already there (and looks just fine!) that things don't always seem to work out.
So what do you think, is tanning overrated or is it a modern symbol of beauty that one has to simply choose or lose? Do you go tanning or find people who do more attractive than those that don't? And what about those tan lines? I am really interested to get some mixed opinions on those!