A sad ghost is pointed at by multicolored fingers

Times We've Felt Shamed For Not Tanning

We recently shared Erin's video about tanning pressures on Facebook. She discusses being called names, tanning to fit in, and finally breaking away and embracing her natural skin tone. The response was huge! Community members talked about the bullying they experienced, and the strength it took to eventually resist the pressure.

The pale skin shame

"Yep, I’ve been called, Casper, asked if I was albino, told to get a tan, that I’d look better with a tan, asked, 'Why are you so white?'"

"Been told that I 'glow in the dark', that I’m 'ghostly white'...and so on...I wish like crazy I hadn’t wanted to 'fit in' when I was younger. Wish like crazy I hadn’t gone to the tanning bed, repeatedly, even though I never got a tan. I just KNEW it was going to work eventually. Nope, no tan. What I got instead was skin cancer!"

"I’m the pale pale blonde who got called ghost, Albino or Casper all through school. People look at you and pretend not to look."

"I used to dread Spring and Summer because I knew all the nasty comments were about to start, and because everyone always looked so pretty in their spring/summer dresses with their tanned shoulders and legs! It took YEARS and YEARS but I have finally accepted the fact that I am never going to be tan! Bring on the white legs poking out of that pretty dress!!!!"

"I got called an albino in school and have been shamed for being pale my entire life (including asked regularly if I'm sick). I've had people say, 'just get a tan' and I say 'well first of all I don't tan (tried that in high school and I apparently cannot tan) and I'd rather not get premature wrinkles.' My close friend died from melanoma at age 31. It's ridiculous how people think it's okay to make remarks to people about their skin tone especially when sun exposure is dangerous."

Understanding the damage

"I’ve worked in dermatology for 7 years, I’ve seen some terrible things the sun and tanning beds can do and unfortunately genetics. I feel so fortunate to have started in derm when I did and learned what I know."

"My father came home one day with his bottom lip sliced off because of skin cancer, I was 8 I think...ever since then I would always wear sunblock and even use an umbrella."

Fighting back

"I will proudly wear my sunscreen, sit under that umbrella and enjoy my wrinkle-less skin for it."

"I miss the warm sun on my legs but no more! I will never enjoy the sun again but I will enjoy living. Life is an adventure :)"

"Too much UV, I don't like it...
Rock the Casper... Rock the Casper..."

"I am not pasty. Its called glow-in-the-dark pale. And it's fine."

One community member even joked, "I'm so pale, I make Goth chicks jealous!"

The value of your experience

Sharing your stories with a new generation might feel futile, but even if you can change one mind, it's worth it:

"I have people comment on how pale I am and tell me I need to go to a tanning bed. That starts a lecture about how painful the after effects of chemo are and I show them my 'bullet wound' which is actually a scar from where my port flipped! Those people usually don't make that mistake again. Just tell them some of the 'benefits' of skin cancer when they give you a hard time about your pale skin."

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