The Glorious (Pale) Days of Summer

It’s officially summer, and I’m not tan. Nor will I be tan by the middle of summer, nor at the end of summer. I’m not going to lie, I do feel somewhat jealous of the people with their pretty tans, but I know that the last thing I need is to lounge for hours in the sun.

As someone who has lived with skin cancer for over twenty years, I know that a deep, dark tan isn’t in my future, nor will it ever be again, as I have to be sun smart and avoid over-exposure to the sun. But honestly speaking, it is a struggle trying on cute summer dresses or shorts with my winter-white legs sticking out. That just seems so non-summery.

The curious tan trend

Why do we as a society think that people are "more attractive" with tans? I’ve seen quite a few quotes and memes about being tan:

“When your tan is on point, your life is on point.”
Apparently my life isn’t on point.

“All things are possible with coffee and a great tan.”
I’m not a coffee drinker, nor do I have a great tan. I guess this means that everything will be impossible for me. Wow, my life is worse off than I thought!

“Tis the season to be tanned” or “Pale, the scariest thing you could be this halloween.”
Those are definitely new twists on holiday spirit.

“Tanning results are quicker than gym results.”
This one may be true, but gym results are much healthier for you than tanning results.

Trying a sunless tan

Since I cannot lay out for hours on end, and since I will not go to a tanning bed, I thought it might be helpful to try a sunless lotion that makes skin look more tan. The first one I tried gave me an interesting orange tint, complete with streaks and a strange odor. Yikes. The second one I tried was better (no streaking or orange color), but it still had somewhat of an odd smell despite being advertised as “no odor.” Sunless tanning lotion apparently will not be the miracle answer for me.

Embracing a pale summer after skin cancer is not easy

Then again, why do I feel like I need to find a way to look like my skin has a sun-kissed glow, in an effort to fit in with what our culture expects? And how do we get to the norm that it’s okay to not have a deep dark tan, and that untanned skin is not only perfectly acceptable but is also healthier? I don’t have the answer to this, but I sure wish I did. Perhaps increasing skin cancer awareness will help, and maybe there will come a day that I won’t feel that my pale summer skin is out of place.

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