Posts Tagged ‘pale’

I have watched the magic transformation from afar. The bikini-clad figure contentedly stretches out on her prophetic Hawaiian Tropic© towel, a smug and waxy grin slowly creeping across her oil-slicked face. She lies perfectly still, imbibing the Suns hazy rays, coconut-kissed skin infusing a warm glow that delicately wraps her body in a blanket of exuberant color. I can almost watch her previously lackluster complexion becoming enhanced by a luminous veil, shrouded in a salubrious shine. Her enraptured countenance is perfectly peaceful as she engages in a subtle seduction of sunlight. It happens, that unmistakably exquisite blush, the Tan.

By contrast, I am a self-admitted Tanorexic. The times that I have attempted to gain even a shade of pigment have proved veritable disasters. I have painstakingly fastened myself to a sunscreen-sticky beach towel, like a flailing grub to a sheet of goo-gluey fly paper. Slippery, clammy and uncomfortable. I have then made a monomaniacal attempt to find my happy place as the Sun beats down upon my inner eyelids, slowly and mercilessly smoking my lily-white complexion. I try to lie still as my head starts to thump like a metronome, a beady layer of sweat burgeoning underneath the suffocating sunscreen (factor 50 no less, thank you). I can literally feel my skin stinging and baking in the sun as I feel about as sensual as a Baked Potato. The results are pitiful and usually a little disturbing. Over the course of the next week, I will develop my own unique color, not dissimilar to that of the Eunephrops bairdii of the Caribbean Sea, more commonly known as the Red Lobster. Often times the Sun has tainted my entire body a deep scarlet hue, except for, most cruelly, the two large circular areas surrounding my eyes that have been left their usual porcelain shade. As if in reprimand, I am left resembling a paralyzed Raccoon in bright headlights. This alarming transformation is swiftly followed by a most gruesome process in which my entire epidermis systematically falls off my person, usually in the most inconveniently public of places and mostly, in accordance with Murphys Law, when I have important events to attend (weddings, reunions, bumping into an ex and his supermodel squeeze). Sadly, it is a far cry from the sun-kissed individuals that grace the pages of Swimsuit Illustrated.

I have always been the palest. When my foundation runs out, Liquid Paper is a fairly adequate substitute. Someone once told me that a friend is someone who sees through you and still enjoys the view. I asked them if they meant that literally. The last time I tried to sunbathe with my sister, who incidentally inherited my mothers olive complexion, I ended up with a 2nd Degree burn (no exaggeration)and some matching emotional scars for good measure. When I was about 11 years old, my concerned mother trundled her translucent daughter to the dermatologist (its routine, she assured me). The imperious doctor, an Indonesian man in his fifties, took a skin-scrape from my pasty little arm. He poked and prodded, ummed and ahhed and eventually sat me down. Alice, he said, in a thick Indonesian accent, squashing the centre of his spectacles flat against the bridge of his broad nose superciliously. You have 100 times de chance of getting de skin cancer than anyone else. You must NEPER go in da sun. NEPER.

I thought for a moment. As the daughter of expatriates, I had grown up in various parts of the world, almost always near the scorching Equator. Neper would be difficult. I pressed him further for his expertise, What if I have to go in the Sun? A long pause ensued. I awaited his wise and learned answer patiently. He was a dermatologist with years of practice and a veritable plethora of certificates mounted haughtily on his office wall. “Alice, if you must go in da Sun, you must always, ALWAYS.

I anticipated the remedy, perhaps a new prescription or product was the answer? I was sure some revolutionary break through in the Dermatological world was about to be revealed to me.

“…….ALWAYS, he continued, “…..wear a suit. A suit in the sun? Did he mean Scuba or Armani?

I remember my first make-up purchase with equal astonishment. Having flipped through the pages of Seventeen and Teen religiously in my pre-teen fervor, I had admired the abundance of choice. There was a cornucopia of color to pick for a liquid foundation. The fresh-faced models who adorned the pages of these magazines had flawless vibrant complexions, miraculously matte, deliciously dewy and unbeknownst to me at the time; fastidiously airbrushed.

Upon arriving at the pharmacy I discovered that the choice of face make-up brands alone was overwhelming. I began to search zealously through the titles. The choice was vast. The hues were given the most tantalizing nom de plumes, conjuring images of an exotic paradise or mouth-watering refreshments. Cool Mahogany, Clearly Caramel, Cocoa Crisp, Tan Temptations, Cognac Caress, Mocha Magic, Heavenly Honey.

I started a lengthy quest. Brand by brand, I scoured the aisles for a suitable tint. Simply Seductive, Chocolate Kiss, Fudge Fantastic Finally I found it. Hidden away at the furthest end of the pharmacy where only the most esoteric group of melanin-challenged individuals would need to venture. My jaw dropped in horror. There was my shade. 000001: PALE BISCUIT.

Pale Biscuit. They didnt even try.

According to the findings of my rapid-fire Google-fingers, humans have had a long and varied relationship with the Sun. It was over 400 years ago that Copernicus declared the Sun the centre of the Universe. Societies all over the world have worshiped the sun, invoking it to aid crop growth (hardly a fruitless cause). In 1920, Coco Chanel made the tan popular (apparently accidentally) after some exposure to the rays on a trip from Paris to Nice. The tan became a symbol of wealth and leisure. Thanks Coco. In ancient Greece and Rome, however, it was desirable to be pasty-white and faces were smeared daily with lead-based paints and chalk (many died of lead-poisoning). Darker skin represented laborers and the lower classes from exposure to the elements while working in the fields. In the 10th Century, Arsenic became the whitener of choice (with apparently unfortunate consequences). In recent years, thank goodness, studies have shown the damaging affects of the Suns rays on our skin and more people are taking precautionary measures than hitting the beach with a bottle of oil to baste in for a good roast. I have noticed that the pharmacies in Western countries have shelves that are brimming with self-tanners, while in Asian pharmacies, the shelves are populated with skin-whiteners. Perhaps the message is clear; be happy with the skin you are in because it is better than being burned or dying of arsenic poisoning. I consider myself enlightened.

There are even a couple of advantages to being so translucent. For one, if I was ever cast in a Vampire film, I could cut back production costs with my natural opacity and a lack of need for white make-up to be paler. The odds of my pasty mug beaming at you throughout your breakfast from your milk carton are also decreased substantially. This is because I am less likely to get lost as I am usually spotted fairly easily from a distance as I provide my own lighting. I am my own beacon of light. Conversely, I can make myself scarce if need by means of camouflage against most walls. Probably the most advantageous aspect of being a whiter shade of pale or a paler shade of white is that it makes me unique. I am certainly the palest biscuit that I know.


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