Friday, May 20, 2011

Pretty in her pallor

For a significant portion of the year Canada is blanketed by snows and its inhabitants venture outside muffled in puffy jackets lined with goose down and trimmed with fur, wearing scarves, mits, and toques knit or crocheted by various female relatives, while trudging around in heavy boots suitable for Antarctic expeditions. Well, at least I do. The sun is quite powerful during these wintry months as it shines off the snow, though due to multiple layers of clothing most people don't need to think about the sun's effects on their skin.
I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and it seems that as soon as the snows begin to melt and the Red and Assiniboine rivers begin to swell with the excess water brought by the melted snows, Winnipegers start stripping. People wear shorts and tank tops as early as they can. We love the sun and the warmth of its rays during the spring and summer. It sure isn't Florida, but we still know the sun.
Many of my friends begin turning lovely copper colours as the sun warms their skin. Meanwhile, I've always been the pale one, thanks to what my brother (also one of these Tannables) refers to as my "ginger genes." I remember in high school, during biology, when learning about melanin, the primary determinant of skin colour, a classmate laughed, looked at me and said, "You should get some of that!"
Over the years I've come to accept my paleness, but this year marks my wholehearted embrace of this fact. This has been brought on by my realizations that those previous efforts aimed at establishing a "base tan" were essentially unhealthy failures, and simply resulted in more freckles and some red-faced photographs of myself. Furthermore, I think of it as an experiment: will my skin reward me for my efforts later in life? I also have had an underlying penchant for all things Victorian-Gothic and vintage glamour throughout my life, so here goes :P Though many thoughts support my reasoning, I've been greatly inspired by figures I admire, ranging from Oscar Wilde to Dita Von Teese who hope that people find beauty in their unique qualities, whatever those may be.


  1. You are not alone! I am a pretty light skinned Puerto Rican (yellow base) and never understood why I couldn't tan like everyone else. When I was younger, I felt left out because all my relatives could get so dark and I couldn't. I know I get it from my maternal grandmother, who was a blond and green eyed Puerto Rican. She would slather herself in baby oil and literally would sit for HOURS in the sun with not even a sunspot. Even now, I still try, using those sun tanning creams to help the process. I will see the slightest shade variance and I eagerly show my husband how proud I am while he lovingly just looks at me with the thought of 'oh, how nice, she thinks she's tanned. bless her'. I understand this is just how it is and I will never have that deep golden skin color but it's as you say, embracing yourself. I'll play up my lightness in winter months and in the summer, just have fun that my skin gets just a lick of color more. :)

  2. It's so funny, and rather fascinating, to see the brilliant variety of characteristics within a family! And I'm definitely envious of your grandmother's ability to dodge sunspots! Sounds like she was a beautiful woman!

  3. People and cultures are just so fascinating. Yes, my grandmother was often mistaken for being Jewish, as my mother often told me (My family is originally from New York and Puerto Rico). I inherited the light skin but too bad the gene for the green eyes skipped out on me ;)