B.E. Healthy: I’m Okay With Being Pale

Your shorts, dresses, tank tops and sandals may not have made an appearance quite yet, but you’ll undoubtedly be showing more skin this month than you have over the past six months. Despite both of my parents and younger brother having naturally tan skin, I was “blessed” with extremely fair skin. Up until about five years ago, this time of year would always have me rushing to the tanning bed. I couldn’t bear the thought of wearing shorts and showing the world my extremely pale legs!

Tanning was something that all of my friends did—and like most 16-year-olds, I wanted to do what my friends were doing. The 16-year-old me felt more confident when I had tanned skin.

I went to the tanning bed (off and on, but more “on” than “off”) for SEVEN years. My whole family joked that I was addicted to the tanning bed. They were right! After multiple and repeated requests from my entire family, I finally stopped going. My now husband assured me that I was beautiful no matter how pale or tanned my skin may be and, more importantly, he reminded me how dangerous tanning is. My family’s requests made a big impact on my choice, but I knew I had to make this decision for myself. I had to accept myself, pale skin and all! It sounds silly, but at the time, this was a big deal for me. I was aware of the health risks, but they didn’t scare me enough to stop tanning. I was the cliché teenager who thought I was invincible.

Skin cancer is something we should all be concerned about. Skincancer.org says one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. That is a scary statistic! Melanoma kills one person every hour, and nearly 90% of melanomas are caused by the sun.* When you are out in the sun (with the intention of tanning or not), please, don’t forget to wear sunscreen. Apply it liberally and often.

If you are struggling with your newfound pale skin, try a self-tanner! My personal favorite is a spray/mist combo that is called “Fake Bake.” It’s easy to apply yourself, has minimal smell, and looks extremely natural (i.e., not orange). This is perfect for special events, vacations or even every day! You can purchase a bottle of Fake Bake at Farrago in Winston-Salem.

Most importantly, look internally. Make a conscious effort to be confident in your own skin. This can be a long process, but once you’ve reached that level of confidence, you won’t think twice about how pale or tanned your skin is.

Luckily, the tanning trend seems to be slowing down. According to the Center for Disease Control, the total percentage of adults living in the US who use tanning beds has declined. From 2010 to 2013, the percentage dropped from 5.5% to 4.2%. Skin cancer can happen to anyone, and with self-tanners and spray tans, who needs a real tan anyway?