Sunday, March 21, 2010

A whiter shade of pale

Maybe some day in the distant future we'll all be the same shade of oompa-loompa, but until then every woman at some point in her life wishes for a different shade of skin. For me I always wanted to be darker. Since I first started wearing foundation I've always been the palest shade. Growing up I'd spend the summer trying to soak in the sun in an attempt to develop a tan. Whenever I thought I was nicely glowing, my best friend used to put her arm up next to mine and put me to shame. (being half Haitian she'd always win)
Up until the 1920's, being pale was the shit. It showed that you could afford not to work outdoors. Women would drink vinegar, avoid fresh air, and apply all sorts of crazy concoctions (including some that included lead and arsenic) to gain a ghostly pallor. Fine blue veins were even painted on sometimes, to give the appearance of delicate translucent skin. Coco Chanel changed all that after she was seen with a post vacation tan from sunning herself on a yacht. The jazz age ushered in many changes. Rebelling against the rigid society of their parents, flappers bobbed their hair and shortened their skirts. Gone was the delicate feminine ideal and in came the new beauty standards of being fit and tanned. Also, though still far from mainstream, more exotic women began to be seen as beautiful such as Josephine Baker and Sophia Loren. (and by exotic, I use the white person's translation meaning: anything other then Anglo Saxon and blonde)
By the time I came into being in the 80's, tanned was the new ideal. Still today, being bronzed is preferred to my natural albino-esque hue. White girls everywhere bake and bronze themselves on a regular basis. Despite a knowledge that it's horrible for you, I myself have spent many hours cooking under the bulbs of a tanning bed. Again, things seem to be changing though. After an overabundance of tanorexic starlets like Lyndsay Lohan and Snooki the pendulum seems to be swinging back the other way. I hope this time it will land in the middle and allow the natural rainbow of skin tones to show. From pale beauties like Dita Von Tesse to stunning dark skinned women like Alex Wek each colour is beautiful and should be celebrated.

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