Like many women, I dread the summer. The weather becomes warmer, the necklines get lowered, the hemlines get higher, and my self esteem plunges. But unlike most women, it isn't the idea of flabby arms and cellulite that scares me. Don’t get me wrong, those things are somewhat in the back of my mind. But my real fear is that summer is the season of baring skin. For me, I have had a hate-hate relationship with my skin as long as I can remember.
I am an extremely pale woman. Being predominantly Irish, the sun and I don’t get along. Many people sit outside and turn a golden brown. I have always stared in wonder at the people who rub themselves down in baby oil. I forget to put on sunscreen walking outside for 4 minutes and I end up looking like Rudolph with my sunburned nose for a week. I sit outside and turn a bright shade of pink and then peel. And underneath that peeling is an equally pale layer of skin. Mix my inability to tan with a family history of MANY forms of cancer (and multiple cases of skin cancer), and I just don’t feel comfortable sitting outside for hours in the attempt at getting a few shades darker.
For about 8 months a year, I blend in. I live in the Midwest. We bury ourselves in our parkas and are all equally pale. But once the warmer months come around, everyone gets darker and I stay the same pale. I was always so embarrassed by how I glowed. I used tanning lotion and attempted a spray tan (it did not turn out well). Instead of trying to change it, I made jokes about it in the hopes that if I put it out there, I wouldn't be so self-conscious about it. And yet I was. Until one day I was talking to someone. I made a joke about how pale I was and he responded that he liked my "alabaster skin."
And it was then I realized it. It truly hit me for the first time. Everyone is made differently. We all look different with our own unique shapes and sizes. And as different as we are made, so are our preferences. While we look in the mirror and see our hips that are too wide and our shoulders that are too broad, there are people who think that we are beautiful and attractive. And you know what? We should be one of those people. The things that we see as our flaws are the things that make us unique and different. If it weren't for those flaws, we would all look like factory dolls. I now make a conscious effort to embrace my "flaws" and realize that they are in fact simply characteristics and that most people aren't as bothered by them as I myself am. And so now I don’t feel embarrassed when I put on the sunscreen and sit in the shade. I’m a pale person. I’m also a beautiful person. And others should be so lucky as to help me put that SPF 50 onto my back.