The first time I was jealous of someone’s tan I was probably about twelve. I was lying on the beach of a small island near Martha’s Vineyard with my two best friends, and like every summer, I had a sunburn. I’d slathered SPF 50 all over my body to my mother’s request, and I still had a sunburn. My friends, olive-skinned and gorgeous, with dark brown hair perfectly streaked with natural highlights, were tanned to perfection while I was “lobster-girl,” as my dad lovingly referred to me.
I was jealous beyond words. As twelve-year-olds often do, my friends and I came up with a great (i.e. idiotic) plan: we would cut athletic tape into shapes to put on our bodies so they would remain pale while the rest of our skin got tan. I traced a star, a spiral, and a flower onto the tape and willingly trimmed them down before we stuck them to our hips. We walked to the beach, spread our bodies out over our towels, and waited. My friends loved tanning and laying in the sun; after about five minutes, my skin was hot, my hair was burning, and the sunlight was seeping through my translucent eyelids and killing my corneas. I peeked at my friends; they were still peacefully soaking up the sun. Frustrated, I sat up and gave up on my goal to ever be tan in life.
Friends, teachers, coaches, acquaintances, and even strangers have told me I’m pale. All people, from all walks of life, have decided it’s necessary to point out how light my skin is. Fun fact, pale people never forget how pale we are – you don’t have to point it out to us like it’s a new development we haven’t noticed. I always laughed when people made jokes like, “oh I thought you were wearing white tights, but those are just your legs,” or, “I bet if any of the cream cheese from your bagel fell onto your skin you wouldn’t even notice,” but they really weren’t funny. Because here’s the thing: making fun of people for any part of their natural appearance is body shaming. It’s not inherently mean, but what you’re saying when you tell someone they’re “too pale” is that they don’t fit into society’s mainstream (and often fake) world of beauty.
But pale is beautiful. Recently, more than any other time in my life, people have told me they love my freckles. And know why I have freckles? Because I’m pale. A few weeks ago I watched a ridiculous YouTube tutorial about how to put on fake freckles and I was shocked – freckles aren’t just a cute kid thing anymore, apparently they’re the newest desirable beauty trend.
That being said, whether they’re “in” or “out,” here’s why you should always love freckles: they’re a sign of youth – a lot of people’s freckles fade as they get older, which is why so many more kids than adults have freckles; they can be a great indicator of when you’ve been slacking on the sunscreen – as cute as freckles are, they develop because of sun exposure, so freckles can remind you to layer on that sunscreen; no two freckles are the same – they make you unique; freckles can hide unruly blackheads and pimples – the different shades of freckles across your skin can conceal redness and irritation without actual concealer (meaning you can let your skin breathe); freckles are beautiful.