Sunscreen has been a party of your daily makeup/self-care routine since... oh, forever.
One of my strongest memories from my 1970s childhood is of my mom sunbathing. She’d put on her bikini, fill up her Tupperware tumbler with iced coffee, grab her pack of Salems, her large brown bottle of coconut-scented oil and head for the backyard.
She’d grease up and bask in the sun for hours. After one afternoon, she’d have an enviable golden glow. By summer's end, she was a deep bronze and I figured this was the “savage tan” that brown bottle of oil was talking about.
But I inherited my dad’s complexion: pasty white and freckled. The kind of skin that burns after only a few minutes in the sun. Pasty white. Bright red. Peeling like a snake shedding its skin. Back to pasty white. For me, there are no sunburns that turn to tan. No tanning, period.
Mine is a world of long-sleeved shirts with UV protection, floppy hats that would look great on some old lady gardener and planning summertime outings to avoid the sun’s strongest rays. Here are some things only pale women understand and, if you find yourself nodding your head while reading this list, then you’re probably a pale woman, too. Solidarity.
1. It's totally possible to desensitize ourselves to the “OMG your legs are so white” comments.
Mostly because we hear those words often enough to where they don’t phase us, particularly during the beginning of summer when we first break out the short shorts. Yes, we know our legs are “so white.” Also, just because we’re sensitized to the fact that someone saw the need to remark on our white legs doesn’t mean we don’t realize you’re an assh*le.
2. You frequently joke that your last name is Cullen.
As in, Edward Cullen. Get it?
3. Sunscreen has been a party of your daily makeup/self-care routine since... oh, forever.
4. You have that one horrible “that time I forgot to put on sunscreen” story.
Mine was going on a weekend camping/canoeing trip in high school with my beautifully olive-skinned friend and her beautifully olive-skinned family. I forgot to pack sunscreen and, since my friend’s family turned a lovely golden color after being in the sun for approximately 10 minutes, no one had any SPF 50 I could borrow.
Instead of explaining to my friend’s mom that my pasty white skin would fry without sun protection, I had the typical bulletproof teen attitude and proceeded to float down the river in an inner tube. In a bikini. For six hours. I spent the rest of the camping trip holed up in a tent because it hurt to wear a shirt or a bra. Good times.
5. You take extreme pleasure in the fact that you’re going to look young in your 50s and beyond.
Yes, it kind of sucks to be the lone pale woman at the pool amongst all the bronze beauties when you’re in your teens and twenties, but by the time 30 rolls around, you’ll fully appreciate your pastiness. Also, it's totally okay to smugly notice that crepe-like skin on the chest of that girl who used to say, "Ooh put your arm up next to mine. Wow, look at how tan I am!"
6. You know there’s no such thing as a good self-tanner.
Sigh. I’d love for someone to prove me wrong on this one. If you’ve got something that isn’t gunky, streaky, or foul-smelling that won’t turn me some hideous shade of orange, call me.
7. You can recite the SPF levels on all of the products in your beauty bag and medicine cabinets.
If you want to have a heart-to-heart about SPF, ask the girl with the glowing white legs. We’ll talk your ear off.
8. You make a fashion statement with your big, floppy hat and Jackie O. sunglasses.
Haven’t you ever heard of accessorizing?
9. Aloe vera rocks.
Because as much as we pasty white girls try to avoid those harmful UV rays, getting burned happens sometimes. That stuff inside the leaves of the magical Aloe vera plant is... well, magic.
10. You’ll never be able to pull off an all-white outfit... and you’re okay with that.
See also: the color yellow doesn’t look much better.
11. Nicknames like Casper, Snow White, Snowflake and Marshmallow don’t faze you.
12. Getting carded when you’re over thirty is kind of awesome...
...but getting carded when you’re over 40 is golden. Ask me how I know.
13. You worry about getting sunburned in places most people don’t worry about getting sunburned.
You better believe I slather sunscreen in my hair to make sure my scalp doesn’t get burned... and then I put a hat on. I don’t mess around. And yeah, people look at me funny because I spray the tops of my feet with sunscreen about every 20 minutes when I’m at the beach or pool. Those people have obviously never experienced the pain of burned skin on their tootsies.
There’s a lot of people out there I don’t like, but I wouldn’t wish burnt feet on my worst enemy. Well... maybe on the guy who broke up with me via text message in 2004 but that’s another story.
14. The foundation shade of “Palest Ivory” is just the teensiest bit too dark for your skin tone.
Still waiting for Estee Lauder or Revlon to come out with “Pastiest Ivory” or "Pallor." One of those might be my signature shade.
15. People use flowery sounding words to describe your skin tone: creamy, milky, porcelain.
And you’re like, shut up. I know I’m pasty white and you know what? I’m ROCKING it.