How I Embraced My Pale Skin

May 1, 2013

As we come into that time of year where the warm sunny weather means more of our skin is exposed and lots of people are talking about getting a tan or how to fake a tan, I'd like to write about why I'll be staying pale.  Growing up I was called "Casper" (as in the friendly ghost) and told that I "should get a tan" because of my extremely pale skin.  I'm always the palest person in any group picture.  I've used my fair share of self-tanner; I've used tanning beds and "laid out" to try to tan my pale skin.  I'd like to share with you how I put those days behind me and how I came to embrace my pale skin.

► I got older.
I'm not sure what it is about growing older, but the further into my years I get, the less I seem to care about certain things.  I worried a lot about being pale when I was an adolescent, because being a teenager does something to your brain where little things seem like really big, important things.  (Well, maybe not all teenage brains are like that, but mine was).  Now that I've put a whole decade between me and my teens, I can look back and see that the hang-ups I had about being pale just don't exist any more. Maybe because...

► I found a partner who celebrates my pale skin.
Okay, I know we're talking about self-acceptance here, and that generally starts from within, but having someone who loves you (and I'm not only talking about romantic love) and celebrates the things about you that you have trouble accepting, well, that really, really helps in the journey to self-acceptance.  At the end of my teen years, I met the man who is now my husband.  Among the infinite list of qualities he possesses, he is the person who showed me how beautiful my pale skin is.  My husband, whose skin can generate the most gorgeous tan, showed me and still shows me that my pale skin is desirable and attractive and not something that should be altered.

► I found colors and styles that accentuated and complemented my pale skin.
I think a black retro-cut swim suit looks so beautiful with alabaster skin.  I think the contrast between a porcelain complexion and bright red lips is gorgeous. Deep jewel tones are always flattering on pale skin, too.  There's something about the contrast between crimson velvet against pale skin that is sensuous and beautiful.  Also, if you're into macabre fashion, pale skin really lends itself to that aesthetic.   There are so many ways to highlight the beauty of pale skin.

► I understood and (finally) accepted that the alternative to being pale was really dangerous.
Okay, I'm not going to get on a soapbox about tanning and all that.  What I mean is: for me personally to "get a tan" doesn't mean I step outside for five minutes with SPF 30 and still manage to get a toasty glow like my husband, it means always burning first and then maybe, possibly having that sunburn turn into a tan.  There is nothing I can do to change this trait anymore than I can change the color of my eyes or my height.  My skin type is highly susceptible to all the bad things that come with being in the sun, so to even entertain the idea of getting a tan is just not an option for me.

► I'm super-lazy.
For one summer, I maintained a fake tan, and let me just say it was a lot of work!  There are so many awesome tutorials and guides on self-tanning out there, but in the end, it wasn't something that I was willing to dedicate that much time and money on.  For some, self-tanning is a nice way to accentuate already tanned skin, but for me, it only ever looked "Meh".  Self-tanning is just too high-maintenance for this low-maintenance gal.

So there it is, how I came to embrace my pale skin.  Sometimes it's hard to accept your body when there are literally millions of products designed specifically for altering or "fixing" that exact thing which you're trying to accept: self-tanners for pale skin, hair color to cover gray hair, relaxers to straighten curly hair, and the list goes on.  There are so many others that have written about the subject of self-love and body acceptance, I just hope that if you are struggling with body acceptance of any sort, my story was in some way helpful to you, you beautiful creature!


  1. Thank you for this post. I`m very pale too, and I always hear from people that I should get a tan because fair skin looks unhealthy. In my opinion pale skin is beautiful

    1. I'm so glad you found this post! Pale IS beautiful and healthy!

  2. Thank you so much for writing this! For years I have been bouncing between accepting my fair skin and then being frustrated with it and using self tanners. But every time I use them I'm left feeling annoyed at the upkeep and also like I'm not being myself. It can be hard to tune out all of the voices (family, friends, media) that tell you that tan is "best" but all of the points you covered really solidified that I should stop trying to be something I'm not to please others.

    1. You are so welcome! :) It's not easy to tune out the critics, but I take it way less seriously now than I did when I was younger. I mean, I can't imagine criticizing a young person for anything relating to their looks especially something they have no control over, and yet people do. Pale, tan, freckled, ebony, the list goes on, it's all beautiful!