Why I Won’t Tan This Summer

July 6, 2008 by Allison West  
Published in Skin

As I walk around my small town this summer, I feel like a rebel because I refuse to tan. The fear of skin cancer led me to embrace my pale skin.

As I walk down the sultry streets of my small town in New York’s Hudson Valley this summer, I’m aware that I’m a little different. In fact, I feel a little bit like a rebel of sorts. I feel like I’ve committed an outrageous act that doesn’t fit into the norm here.

What have I done that so goes against the grain of my sleepy little upstate community?

I refuse to tan.

It’s a feeling that’s been coming on for a while now. For years, I haven’t really cared if I developed any summer color at all. Still, I looked into using self tanning creams and experimented with bronzing myself up. I didn’t want to be that one pale person who stuck out as different in a crowd of tan women.

But it just wasn’t for me. So this summer, I’m going completely tan free. I’m letting my super pale, porcelain skin simply be. I’m wearing shorts, sundresses and summer tops and showing off my white skin, totally unaffected by hours laying in the summer sun or a chemically-induced faux suntan.

I feel a little odd doing this. It seems that upstate New York, in the country here, people are somewhat behind the times when it comes to embracing the pale skin you were born with. Everywhere I look, from the small town streets, to the local Wal-Mart, you’ll see the uniform. Women in tight cutoff jean shorts, high heels slide sandals, highlighted hair, a skimpy tank top, and hide the color of a brown leather sofa.

I’m not sure if these tans are the result of hours baking in the sun, time spent in a tanning bed, or they come from a bottle. But the effect is never natural, and I wonder why so many women feel the need to lay in the sun or a tanning bed and fry their skin, or apply smelly staining chemicals to their bodies.

What led to my decision to go pale? Allergies, is one reason. Each time I bought a bottle of faux tanner, the citric acid or other chemicals made my skin feel like it was burning. I frequently have eye allergies and the fragrance used to mask the tanning odor would make my eyes tear. I found that the perfume in most self tanners could never really hide the unpleasant odor that would linger for a long while on my skin.

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5 Responses to “Why I Won’t Tan This Summer”
  1. patrick regoniel Says:

    I do agree you keep your skin that way. There’s nothing more pleasing and satisfying that being yourself despite the socio-cultural pressures.

    In the Philippines where I live, women try hard to look paler, or achieve whiter skin like you because whiter skin appeals to most men here; quite the opposite of the trend there. I wonder why people want to look different than they really are.

    It pays to be natural. If something hurts, don’t push it. That might just save your life.

  2. Liane Schmidt Says:

    Ever since I wrote a newspaper article on skin cancer in high school, I have never been able to look at sunbathing and tans in the same way. Good article.

    Best wishes.


    -Liane Schmidt.

  3. Autumnrose Says:

    Great points. I’m totally with you! I’m pale with an English Rose complexion, and I decided not to tan either this summer. I think porcelain pale skin is actually much prettier than bronze-y blah anywho. :)


  4. tonisan60 Says:

    Everybody has to do what they want to do, uniformity is an absurd, God made us differente one another for a reason. Thank you for sharing and my compliments to yor corage and personality.

  5. Tiffany J L Alfonso Says:

    I agree with you – I don’t tan even though I have copious amounts of melanin (I’m Filipino) on me! That’s tan for you!

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