Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Pale Girl Blues

I'm pale. Painfully so. I came to terms (mostly) with that fact years ago. I come from a long-line of pale people. I'm more than two-thirds Irish; it's just in my genes. But pale is not the world we live in. Just look at the Jersey Shore cast.
GTL, anyone?
courtesy: google image search
In high school, I rebelled against the pale. The hours I spent laying in a tanning bed were some of the most relaxing of my life. I loved tanning. Loved it. I loved the way it made my skin feel, the way I could relax under the fake beams of the fake sun. I worshipped the tanning bed. Unlike the sun, it would give me an actual, kind of, tan. The sun would just burn my skin and turn me into the red girl instead of the pale girl. I preferred pale. But the tanning bed gave my skin a slightly golden sheen (along with hundreds of new addition to being pale, I also freckle). But alas, my days of tanning are now but a faded memory.

When I was in college, my Daddy started developing skin cancers on his face and hands. Turns out years of sun exposure with little or no protection had taken a toll on his naturally pale skin. This was a huge wake up call for me. My love affair with the tanning bed ended abruptly. I now get on my friends' nerves when I harass them about how they need to stop tanning.

Needless to say, I've been tan-less and pale for quite awhile now. During the spring and summer, I do enjoy getting outside as much as possible, but I have to slather on sunscreen to keep from burning and turning into Lobster Girl. So even in the middle of summer, I remain fairly pale, and while my husband loves my fair complexion, I usually hate it. Not because I hate fair skin. In fact, I love the look of a healthy, even ivory complexion, but such a complexion is a curse when you're trying to hide your emotions.
Not what I'd call an ideal tan.
Ladies and gentleman, I'd like to introduce you to splotching (or blotching as some might call it). The ugly cousin to blushing, splotching is an awful affliction that plagues my daily existence. It can best be described as a form of "spotty" blushing, and it typically pops up all over my chest and on my neck. Splotching makes it impossible to hide your true feelings about anything. Embarrassed about that giant mistake you made on an admissions evaluation? Up pops a splotch! Angry at the last-minute student trying to get enrolled in classes on the day the classes start?! Oh, there's splotches all over! Hell, if you even get a little warm in your over-heated office that for some reason never cools down even when they turn on the AC, you'll be covered in splotches! Notice splotches usually and most often make their presence known at work. Home and personal-life splotching almost never occurs...UNLESS, I scratch my skin or even touch it just a little too hard...then there it is.

The worst part about splotching? People usually think you have a rash or some other disease or something. I can't tell you how many people have looked at my neck or chest in complete disgust and said, "Ew! What's wrong with you?" "Is that a rash!?" "Oh, my gosh, your skin is horribly discolored!" Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little. But honestly, people do notice, and they almost always say something. And guess what pointing out the splotching does to the splotching?  You guessed right: it breeds more splotches!

So, yes, I do sometimes miss tanning. I miss the relaxation of it. And I miss being able to hide every little emotion that I have. But in spite of the splotches, I love my pale skin, and next season, I hear pale is the new tan.


  1. *GASP* followed by a look of concerned horror.
    "You have an enormous scratch on your neck/back/arm!"

    It is there as the result of the little itch I had, but looks like someone attempted to slaughter me. Do you get 'wine face' too? Ah, the curse of the Irish.

  2. Adding "pale with freckles" to the list of things we have in common...and 2 years ago my dad was dx with melanoma (he's fine now) which was a huge wake up call for me.

  3. My husband loves my pale skin, too, and HATES when I want to tan! But the cast of Jersey Shore is enough to turn anyone off tanning forever... they look like Oompa Loompas to me!

  4. hi- i'm a new follower from weekend blog hop. I too come from German and Irish descent. So, I'm pale, like my mother's Irish genes, and my son is golden brown like my dad. I used to tan and stopped too. It's addicting. A little self tanner and I'm grateful that there has never been a better time to be pale. More fun hats, it's trendy! would love a visit and follow back and embrace your 2/3rds Irish genes! laura

  5. Oh I hear you loud and clear! I have Irish skin too and all it ever does is sunburn, splotch and freckle. *sigh*

  6. My best friend back at home has the splotches. I know as soon as she is slightly embarrassed or is upset. I think pale skin is pretty, and a lot prettier than a lobster :)
    I used to love the tanning bed too, and at times in cold winter Germany I love it again (only 6 min at a time). But holy is it bad. You can just feel how bad it is for us. I am like you, I wish I could take back all that time in hs and college I spent in there!

  7. Hi!! I'm stopping by and following from Weekend Wander. I hope you'll check out my blog Frazzled Mama at and follow me back. Have a great day.

  8. I'm a splotcher too! Mine is probably on the mild end of the Splotch-o-meter, because i usually only get it when i'm upset or have been drinking :P

    Re tanning - I've never gone near a tanning bed, but grew up on the beach and in the sun. My Mum was very vigilent about sunscreen and hats etc, as her time in the Solomon Islands left her with a permanantly red chest.

    In summer up here i get a tan just by hanging the clothes on the line, but it's usually far too hot to be outside for more than 10 minutes at a time!

    I'd rather be pale and alive. I hope your Dad is okay? ♥ xo

  9. Hi! I found your blog through Winniebee :D I suppose the grass is always "tanner" on the other side, eh? You won't believe the number of whitening products sold on this side of the world. It's INSANE. Fun blog! I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts! :D


  10. I can sympathzie you with. My skin has been 'touchy' since I hit puberty and that was a long, long, long while ago. I'm so pale you can see the blue veins on my legs. I blush and flush (rosecea) and have had BCSkin cancer. If you've ever been in a dermatologist's office you've probably seen the posters of an old, leathery face on a 20 something body - not pretty - Your smart in protecting your skin now - it will definitely pay off in the future: D
    Sorry to hear about your Dad-hope it's just basal cell.

  11. I get splotches too! I hate it! Hate it, Hate it, Hate it! Turtlenecks are my friend...

    No tanning for me even though I do tan beautifully - skin cancer cured that!

  12. I'm a splotcher, too. I especially hated when it happened at work. I'd be trying to portray this calm and cool persona while speaking to a group, only to be undermined by my own blotchy-red skin! lol

  13. I'm as pale as the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Just as round too.
    I'm sure the splotches must make you uncomfortable. Next time someone is so darn rude, tell them that you have Impetigo and like to share. That will shut them up.

  14. @No. 7: OH YEAH. Wine Face. Margarita Face. Beer Face. Whatever-I'm-Using-To-Drown-My-Sorrows-In-Face.

    @M3LB: Yes, my Dad's fine, too, but stuff like that really helps bring things back down to earth.

    @Lucy: HA! You said it. They really do, too!

    @Laura: Oh, I LOVE being Irish. I just hate my skin :) Thanks for stopping by!

    @Ada: Doesn't it suck? Ugh!

    @Tex: But isn't it lovely? Oh, how I miss it. A 6-minutes fix would make me feel SO much better!

    @TheFlea ;): Splotch-o-meter. HA! I'm with you; pale and alive is MUCH preferable. My Dad is doing good. Thankfully, most of his cancers can easily be remove.

    @Samantha: Thanks for stopping in! And congrats again on your beautiful book...I'll be grabbing a copy as soon as it becomes available. Bleaching products?! Ugh. I suppose you're right. Everyone always wants what they don't have.

    @WynnieBee: You're absolutely right. It WILL pay off. I totally relate to you. I also have nearly "translucent" skin.

    @cakeologist: Isn't it a curse? I know what you mean about turtlenecks! I always have to think about what I'm going to wear on high stress days, and I hate that!

    @Nina: I know what you mean. Every time I have to do a presentation, my stupid skin reveals my nerves!

    @Bernie: That's a great idea, Bernie! hehehe...I can start plotting my next response now. It won't be long before I get to use it!

  15. I'm a splotcher - regardless of how much I tan. I'm not fair skinned either. My chest just gets splotchy for whatever reason... I'm also a blusher. People frequently think I'm embarrassed because I blush easily - when in reality it could be something so simple as a shift in my posture or the simple fact that I'm talking that caused it. It's really weird... And people ALWAYS feel the need to point it out. "Why are you blushing?!?" "Look at her, she's blushing!" Which - as you said about the splotching - makes it even worse!

    I used to let it bother me - but then one day I got pissed at this acquaintance of mine who insisted that he had embarrassed me because I was blushing. (In reality I had been drinking, that's why my face was red... HA!) I'd had enough - and this guy was just an all around jerk. So I said: "I'm not embarrassed by what you said douche bag. Get over yourself." Then I walked away. He was speechless. HA!

    Embrace the pale sista! You are who you are and you're WONDERFUL KATIE!!!


  16. Not only do I have very pale skin, it's also very sensitive. It either easily dries, or becomes a greasy hot mess. I don't splotch, but my entire face becomes beet red if I'm angry, embarrassed, drunk, emotionally hurt, and everything else. I'm of Irish, German, and Czech decent and I have to use 80 spf or higher otherwise my skin starts itching and burns. I currently use 110 spf...I feel your pain.

  17. Reading all these comments of others who can relate makes me feel soooo much better. I too had a long love affair with the tanning bed, from the time I was old enough to drive myself to the salon, until last year when I suddenly realized I was looking older than my mom.

    I wasn't the only one who noticed! People are constantly thinking she is my sister, and I don't dare ask which of us they assume is the younger?

    So I have taken to using all sorts of wonderful homemade holistics to gently slow down the clock.

    But I miss my tanning bed like nobody's business! There is just something so magical about being able to bask totally naked, surrounded by synthetic sun, and knowing that afterwards your splotches, zits, veins and bruises will be camouflaged. If only for a couple of days...


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