Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Now I've gone and done it


Without getting too deep into it, let’s just say I am a white girl, through and through. I am pasty, pale, and at times during the dead of winter, transparent. I can thank my Polish, German, Scottish, English, etc., ancestors for that.

I used to yearn for skin like some of my friends had: beautiful, smooth skin that always had some sort of color. My skin doesn’t have the correct pigment to tan; when I get some sun, I just turn red, and when that initial redness turns into a “tan” it’s not really a tan…just a deeper shade of red.

In recent years I’ve given up yearning for other people’s skin. I know I can’t transform my red/white skin with little red bumps and spider veins into a smooth, golden dermis. I’ve accepted that I’m pale, pasty, and transparent, and have resigned myself to being the pale person with healthy skin as I get older, rather than the leathery yet tanned women I’ll age with. (And as I lose weight, it gets easier to accept this; when you’re heavy, pale skin is worse…you can see all the lumps, bumps, and imperfections, whereas when your skin is tan, somehow you look thinner and smoother overall.)

I know what you’re saying – why don’t I use self-tanner? I’ve tried that. I’ve used sprays, lotions, bronzers; I am apparently not at all adept in applying self-tanner. I miss my ankles, I have streaks down my calves, and I don’t know why, but that stuff does not dry on my skin! Even the lotions that build a tan over time don’t work; I let them dry for 10, 20, even 30 minutes, and they’re still tacky. I’ve given up. Plus I forget to use them regularly.

Yesterday, I seem to have forgotten my vow to remain pale. At a work team-building event, I rolled up the sleeves of my t-shirt and sat, sans sunscreen, in the hot sun for four hours.

What a mistake.

Today I am in pain. Oh, how I’ve forgotten the pain sunburn can cause. It’s not just the hot, burning feeling, either. I feel like my arms ache from the inside out; my muscles hurt, and just sitting at my desk is causing me great distress.

I’ve only had a worse sunburn once in my life. During my first year of college, I spent a day at the beach. It was the end of the year, and some friends had come to visit. I don’t remember if I fell asleep, or just didn’t want to turn over and squint into the sun, but I spent the entire time lying on my stomach.

Later that night, the back of my legs began to itch. Finally, I peeled off my jeans and the angry flesh beneath was revealed. Oh, the pain. The backs of my legs were redder than red, and were blistered to boot (yep, 2nd degree burns). I couldn’t bend my legs very well, because the burn was right behind my knees, too.

To make matters worse, the yahoos in my dorm decided that night to pull the fire alarm – four times. I lived on the top floor of the dorm, and had to hobble up and down three flights of stairs four times that night. It was sheer torture.

Today, I think I’m actually redder than I was that time, but I’m thankful I don’t have blisters. I’m also trying to avoid people whenever possible, because I’m tired of people’s eyes bugging out of their heads when they catch a glimpse of me. And of course there’s the, “Oh, you got some sun, huh?”

Just once I want to say “No” and wait to see their reaction.

Today’s lesson – buy sunscreen. Lots of sunscreen.