I fucking hate fake tans.
Let me be perfectly clear: I don’t mean a nice, natural weekend-at-the-beach tan. Or even Jergens Glow. I’m talking about those fake-ass orange-y, practically florescent “tans” that you get sprayed on as though you’re a new car on the assembly line. They’re especially eye-popping on the red carpet and on shows like “Dancing with the Stars”, where every single woman (and at least some of the men) has clearly been spray-tanned to within an inch of their lives. A former contestant on that show once complained that the fake-bake had ruined her sheets because the thick layer of skin dye would rub off as she slept. I’m not going to single out any one person here, since I’m snarking on the trend, not the individual. But put “bad fake tan” into Google Images and you’ll find some horrifying snaps of celebs who have had a run-in with the Agent Orange.
Now, if any of you ladies have a year-long membership at your local Mistic Tan, well, you’re free to choose your choice, just like you can choose to wear high heels or pantyhose. But I’m calling bullshit on this trend the way I did on those.
Skin comes in just about every shade from dark brown to pearly white. It does not, however, come in orange. Fake bakes are of a shade not known to nature. So when the fuck did we decide that they were the most glamourous skin tone for white folks? I mean, what’s wrong with just wearing the skin that God(dess) gave you?
My own personal skin has always been pale, although my father’s family are on the very brown end of the Caucasian skin-tone spectrum. (Hell, my dad’s dark olive skin, long nose and almost black eyes mean that he’s routinely profiled at airports. Add a kaffiyeh and the TSA would lock up him up with no questions asked.). My mom’s family, however, is English-German, with freckly-pale complexions that practically glow in the dark. I am somewhere in between–the very light beige of industrial linoleum. I did get the Semitic tendency to brown in the sun, though, so I can get tan if I want to.
Thing is, I don’t want to. I’ve had a few questionable moles removed, so I’m nervous about melanoma, and I’m vain, so I do not want a face like an old leather purse. I’ve given in to the fake-tanning craze a couple times and used those drugstore self-tan lotions, which work quite well on me and give me a nice golden color a little reminiscent of a well-roasted chicken. But after a summer fling with the self-tanner, I threw it out. It was a pain in the ass having to re-apply the lotion constantly and I did not need to add one more task to the never-ending list of grooming obligations our culture imposes on women. These days I wear sunscreen only. I may be slightly tanner in the summer, but it’s probably noticeable only to me. The rest of the time, I’m just my usual pale self, and I’m totally fine with that. And since I’m not all that keen on even realistic fake tans, I’m seriously turned off by what happens when you spray on something that makes you look like a baked carrot.
I’m also turned off by the way these products are marketing almost exclusively to women. There are endless articles in Cosmo, Marie Claire, etc. that advise us to tan up so we can wear a white summer dresses or so that we don’t look pale in a swimsuit. To say nothing of all the ads for self-tanning salons that tell you to get your fake orange glow for summer. It’s just one more way in which women are being told that they simply don’t look good unless they invest a lot of time and money into looking completely different from how nature intended. Fuck that. I live in the Northeast. When warm weather rolls around, my arms and legs are going to look like they’ve been encased in wool for the last four months. I’ll wear the white dress or the swimsuit anyway, and if you think it looks wrong with my pale skin, well, you fashion editors and makeup gurus can kiss my untanned ass.
But for fake-bake haters like me, there’s hope! Earlier this month, the Daily Mail ran an article announcing: Fake Tan is So Over Even Victoria Beckham’s Lightening Up. (With enlightening before and after photos)
Well then. If those classy, classy arbiters of culture, Posh and the Mail, decree it so, it must and shall be so! I confess, I was heartened all the same when the article proclaimed:
Look sharp: there’s a new trend in town and it won’t cost you a penny. Instead it will save you time, effort and whiffy, streaky fingers. That’s right, fake tan is O.V.E.R.
Hoorah! One can only hope that the pasty residents of the Sceptered Isle have gotten the message and are now shutting down their spray-on salons. Now if only the trend will spread to this side of the Atlantic…