No Tan For Me: Learning To Love My Super Pale Skin

If you have pale skin you can relate

The sun is my enemy. | Source: Flickr

Pasty. Gringa. Albino. Casper the Friendly Ghost. Mayonnaise Legs. When it comes to lame names for my super pale skin, I’ve heard them all.

Growing up in Southern California, in a predominantly Mexican-American neighborhood, being the whitest girl around (well, besides my equally ghostly sister) wasn’t exactly easy. While the other kids would turn a golden brown color playing out front in the sprinklers, I’d either have to stay in the shade or risk turning lobster red during the summer months. I was different. I was weird. I was . . . so freaking white, and desperate to blend in even just once.

My parents didn’t make my chalky skin any easier to wear, either. My mom, who isn’t quite as pale as I am, would yell at me to come get another coat of sunblock applied roughly every 2.5 minutes whenever I was trying to play with my friends–and my dad, who truly is as white as a sheet, would embarrass the hell out of me with his own inventive skin protection schemes. Once, after I cut off an old pair of jeans to make jean shorts, he asked if he could keep the denim legs I’d cut off. Thinking he wanted them for rags to wipe down his car or something, I handed them over–only to totally regret it later. He wore my old jean legs (I kid you not) on his ARMS while driving to protect his skin from the sun. The first time he picked me up from a birthday party with those things on, I just about died. Thankfully, he never insisted on me wearing a similar getup.

Back in the early 2000s, when professional spray tans were first super popular, I thought about getting one so I could look a bit more like everyone else–but then I realized that since I’ve got orangey red hair, I would look kind of . . . monochromatic if I went that route. Remember how bad Lindsay Lohan looked post-Mean Girls when she got her first spray tan? Yikes.

It was then that I realized that not only would I not look amazing with a tan–I’d look flat-out bad. I love how pale I am and feel sad when I think about how much I wanted to blend into a sea of tan skin when I was younger.

Yes, being more “brown” was trendy when I was in high school–but then, lots of girls with naturally darker skin use skin lightening creams and other techniques to try to be more pale, since lighter skin is more “desirable” in many cultures. If you ask me, it’s all ridiculous and honestly sad. Since when should one skin color be “trendier” than another? It’s creepy and it’s what keeps us from realizing just how beautiful we all are naturally.

Take a look at Cate Blanchett, Devon Aoki, Mila Kunis, Padma Lakshmi, Aisha Tyler, and Selena Gomez. Gorgeous ladies. All different skin tones. Proof that blending in is boring, and that being you–whether you’ve got pale skin like me, honey coloring, or deep skin–is beautiful.

Do you have super pale skin? Have you ever wanted to be tanner or more pale? Tell me everything in the comments!

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  • Barbara

    Oh my gosh.. have I ever struggled being pale!! Lol.. I .. as well grew up in California where there were more ethnic people. I was an outcast. I was so pale that I was too embarrassed to wear shorts. If I did wear shorts.. I made sure to find the tannest pair of nylons that I could buy lol and all that did was make me walk around as if I’d all of a sudden become an irresistible creature lol when in reality I am sure that I looked like some weirdo with tan tights and pale arms walking around in 100* weather. Oh yes.. and then there was my experiment with every self tanner on the market which in turn only made me more of an outcast .. hence came the nickname Oompah Loompah lol looking back.. all of that was very hard for me to go through. Over the years it has not gotten any easier for me. I want sometimes to get a blood transfusion from a gorgeous Latina woman in hopes that I could be fixed lol. Not really… But being pale is not cool and although I have given up on the dream of feeling as if I fit in .. I wholeheartedly know that I need to embrace my white skin. I am who I am and as I look back… I wish that I would have concentrated on just being myself other than trying to be what I am not. Maybe then I would have made long lasting friendships.. instead of hiding myself in my room. Viva La Gringa!!!! 🙂

  • Katey

    As a nurse I would suggest that everyone use sunscreen. You may not have heard of darker complexioned people getting skin cancer but ANYONE can get skin cancer, cancer doesn’t discriminate…