Being Pale is Not a Crime!

What is this obsession with getting the perfect tan? I don’t mean by roasting yourself in actual sunlight. Let’s face it, chances are that the long-term sun worshipper risks the permanent appearance of a wrinkled prune, never mind the well-documented health risks.
No, I’m talking about that WAG favourite: the fake tan. Come on, admit it. If you’re a girl of Northern European complexion, you’ve probably been slathering it on by the bucket load. Now I’m beginning to think I may be the only pale woman left in Britain.
You see, four years ago I decided to go “au natural”. Not, you understand, that I’m in any way opposed to artifice. I rarely leave the house without a decent coat of make-up and my hair long since lost its colour virginity. But, while I might, from time to time, assume the mane of a blonde or redhead, I’ve become bored by the weekly ritual of streaky ankles, orange fingertips and the constant aroma of digestive biscuits. OK, I’ve never been what you’d call a natural beach bunny. At the first sign of sunlight I encase myself in layers of clothing and SPF50. But these days I’m content to be what I am: fair and freckly. Yet this seems to bother other people. Just try being truly pale and buying make-up. Assuming you can find a colour that matches your pale ivory tones, you still can’t go to a beauty counter without the saleswoman setting about “warming you up” with her latest bronzer. Why do I need to be golden to be happy? I’m not sad, I’m not sick. I’m just pale.
This does have its disadvantages.Were it not for my makeup, all my passport photo would show, would be a mop of dark hair and a pair of eyes! When my photo appeared in the local paper I was horrified to find that I'd been Photoshopped to a golden glow. I think the picture editor thought there must have been something wrong with the camera!

A few years back, The Year Without Summer as we came to call it chez Raggedy Ann Girl, I’d gradually allowed my fake tan routine to slide. There’d been no sunshine, so absolutely no-one had acquired a natural tan. Everyone knew that all those golden girls were faking it; it didn’t seem necessary to go through all that rigmarole.
Until, that was, a young man promoting a new beauty salon stopped me in the middle of Derby. I say stopped, it was more like grabbed, but anyway, he kindly informed me that I looked “in need of a makeover” and invited me to visit the establishment.
Perhaps I’m being harsh on the lad. Perhaps he was showing refreshing honesty rather than relying on outrageous, if predictable, flattery. But it struck me that he might be a more successful salesman if he avoided insulting potential clients.
Could I possibly look that bad? I called on my so-called friend for moral support. She said I looked “a bit peaky” which is code for: “To be honest, you look so pale I want to bring you smelling salts.”
I protested: “But I’m not ill. This is what I look like. All the time. Underneath all that blusher – this is me.”
She looked confused and then her faux-glowed nose crinkled up in sympathy. It wasn’t the reaction I’d hoped for, but it was the moment I decided to stop pretending. To embrace my natural pallor and play the pseudo-sun-kissed game no more. To just be me: pale – and content.
And I’m not the only one rebelling: there’s even a Facebook group for those who refuse to conceal their alabaster skin. It’s not because we don’t care, or because we’re ill, or even that we’re being brave. It’s just that we’re, well, comfortable in our own skin.