While on my beach trip, I experienced a significant change in my own sense of self-approval when it comes to this culture’s oppressive, ridiculous beauty standards. This has nothing to do with body shape though. I live in an area where the rubenesque and svelte, the crinkled and the taut, the ripped and the wobbly, strut proudly on the beach in their swimsuits, and absolutely no one gives a toss about it. For the most part, bodies here are functional rather than decorative, and the most important feature one has while at the beach is a good pair of shades.
My issue has to do with skin tone and beauty standards. It’s taken me twenty-five years to accept my extremely pale skin. It should not have taken me that long at all. If it hadn’t been for a particularly witless mouth-breather during my sophomore year of high school, I probably wouldn’t have even considered my skin tone a problem – an OFFENSE to the eye – whatsoever. Not too long after he’d pointed out my chalkiness to the entirety of the class, I smeared make-up….yes, make-up, as in foundation….on my legs to make them seem an actual skin-tone color rather than the color of the living dead. A foolish move considering, back then, foundation was never a “natural” color (the closest match I could find that didn’t make me look Oompa-Loompaish was a muddy, ruddy pink), and it was hell to remove from clothing.
If it hadn’t been for the numerous, self-appointed skin tone critics (lemmings) I’d encountered since my high school days, including a shallow ex-husband and a nearly blind great aunt, I would never have known that to be pale meant to be an anomaly. I had always thought the truly glamorous were pale – a poreless, powdery, soft-focused pale. Of course, my own paleness would be better enhanced if I had rosy, filtered lighting following me everywhere. Alas, one can’t escape the inevitable wretchedness of retail fluorescents and direct sunlight.
To be tan means to be Golden, the picture of youthful health, the very image of beauty. However, it seems that standard is finally growing passé. During my beach excursion, I found I wasn’t alone whatsoever, and I certainly wasn’t out of fashion. Due to my paleness, I wore a floppy sunhat; a flowy coverup; big, dark sunglasses, and plenty of SPF.
Quite frankly, I — along with a number of other stylish, melanin-deprived women — felt 50 SPF shades of All Fabulousness.
(Well, up until the inevitable sunburn set in, at any rate.)