What I've Learned: Sometimes Ignorance Really Is Bliss

Posted 01/18/12 at 01:23PM by Audrey Fine

I miss being tan. As un-PC as that is to say, it's gotta be doubly bad to type as a beauty blogger. But they say the truth will set you free, so here goes ...

One of my earliest memories is of my mom lying in the sun. No, not at the beach or at a pool or, heck, even a park. Nope, in my mind's eye, my mom is lying on my little girl bed, the sun streaming into the window beside it. Oh, and it's the dead of winter in New York City.

Yes, my mom was a sun junky. She grew up in Florida and was always, always tan. We're talking Bain de Soleil, iodine-in-the-baby-oil tan. So, naturally, I grew up with the message -- subliminal though it may have been -- that tan was beautiful.

Then, when she was around 40, my mother had a brush with skin cancer that scared her straight -- and pale. Suddenly, it was "put sunblock on" and "don't sit in the sun" and we went from vacationing in the Caribbean to freezing our butts off on ski slopes. To this day she's as alabaster as can be. (Give or take a couple hundred sunspots.)

But, though she was able to go cold turkey, it was too late for me. I was already bitten by the "I look better when I'm brown as a berry" bug and had a mantra that I was going to be "ugly when I'm old anyway, I might as well look as good as I can now." So I fried myself again and again. I even went to work for Club Med where part of my job, if you can believe it, was to lie on the beach with guests.

Years passed and more research surfaced about the dangers of the sun. It was bad for you. It could maybe kill you. It would definitely ruin your skin. Talk about a bummer.

Yet, I persisted in going for the bronze. Not only did I like how I looked when I was savagely tan, I liked how it felt getting that way. To lie in the sun and soak it up -- ahhhh.

Then, the inevitable happened. I started getting brown spots. And wrinkles. And broken capillaries. And myriad other unattractive skin things. Even when I was totally tan, you could see the damage peeking through. I knew that I had to make a change. So, sigh, I did the responsible, grown-up thing and started wearing sunscreen. And hats. And even took to sitting in the freaking shade.

My newfound self-restraint hasn't vastly improved my skin, but I like to think that at least it's not getting any worse. And maybe, with lots of luck, I'll be able to sidestep any disastrous health repercussions.

Don't get me wrong, none of that means that I'm happy about being pale. As I said at the start, I miss being tan and I miss the feeling of the sun baking me brown. Then again, I also miss the '90s, eating chocolate chip cookies for breakfast, and Jagermeister, which just serves to further underline that the things we like are often the things that are most hazardous to our health. Why is that?
And the survey says...
1-6 of 10 Comments

  • Posted by EricaF123 on 12/29/12 at 04:40pm

    Nice

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  • Posted by EnglishRose93 on 05/04/12 at 02:08pm

    There's nothing wrong with being pale. In fact, I think it's beautiful and unique - think Dita Von Teese, Scarlett Johansson, Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, etc. I'm 19 and I have always loved my pale skin. Since I was 16 I've worn SPF 30 on my face every day without fail, and I'll be reaping the benefits for decades to come.

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  • Posted by beautybody on 03/25/12 at 08:29pm

    I have had pre-melanoma in high school and that was with wearing sunblock all the time. I try to stay out of the sun as much as possible.

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  • Posted by powerwoman033 on 03/14/12 at 11:21am

    This post is very honest. ;) My mom was exactly the same way. We lived in the mountains at 7,000 feet above sea level and she would slather on the oil and lay in the sun for hours. She was always dark! I tried to tan but I don't have my mom's skin. I am fair and cannot tan. I burn and only burn. My mom is 63 years old now, and as much as I hate to say it, she looks closer to 80 because of major sun damage. I consider myself lucky now that I couldn't tan because I still look young for my age (37).

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  • Posted by LipglossandSpandex on 02/11/12 at 09:02am

    I appreciate that your post is so honest! I love how I look when I'm tan too, and I love just relaxing outside in the sun, feeling so warm. But little by little, the damage is starting to show. And I've known too many people with skin cancer scares, or who had to have tissue removed. :(

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  • Posted by Nicole2814 on 02/10/12 at 10:17pm

    wow

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