Sometimes – a lot of the time actually – I feel like I’m at war with my body. There’s the constant battle to get a teeny tiny toushie, my backstabbing hair (The Fringe: need I say more?), and I’m chronically white. I was born a pale, untanned gelatinous mass and by golly, that’s the way I’m going to stay; no matter what I try to do about it.
It’s really disheartening to be incapable of tanning in my family, because my stupid brother Matthew tans as easily as sneezing. He steps outside, turns around twice, and – WHAMMO! – he’s as brown as, well, a latté I guess.
But me? Not quite. It’s like my skin is impervious to the sun. My legs particularly. They’re milky; boringly pale and no, not alabaster like Nicole Kidman but instead kind of pasty. And no matter how long I lie comatose on the beach with a book and my sun hat, I don’t pick up any colour. I don’t go a lovely chocolate brown, or even caramel. Instead I turn into a pink marshmallow. Come on Universe, no fair!
Matthew describes me as blonde, short and pink – does that remind anyone else of Miss Piggy?
And my legs. I can’t get over this. It’s like my legs have some kind of force field that lets them burn but never, ever tan. Even with self-tanner.
Self-tanner: shudder. Every time I apply it (with much trepidation) I end up with streaky calves and orange spots instead of a lovely all-over tan. It’s not like I don’t try, OK? I smear the stuff on as carefully as I can, but my hands are hands for goodness sakes and not some kind of smooth, smoothing machine. Oh, and if the bottle says “Wash your hands after applying” – listen to them. Orange palms are creepy and will most definitely get a lot of skeef looks. It would be easier if I tanned ever instead of going a ghastly red when I’ve spent five minutes in the sun. WHY WON’T MY LEGS TAN? I don’t get it. It’s one of the great mysteries of the universe, like UFOs, Amelia Earhart’s disappearance or Big Momma’s House 3 coming to theatres.
My skin shades range between marshmallow white, shrimp pink or lobster red. If I’m lucky a burn turns into a more human (caramelly) colour, otherwise I look like a kid’s drawing of person: sunflower yellow hair, sky blue eyes and fuchsia pink skin.
Then you get my friend Portia. She spends all summer cowering under any shade (found or created) that she can, trying to stay a monolithic chocolate. All the while I lie spread-eagled next to her, begging fruitlessly; “LET ME TAN!” to the unyielding universe. Portia raises an eyebrow and smirks, “Skin cancer is all I’m saying”. Yeah whatever, Queen Nutella. Lucky bi-atch. Jerusha, another friend, has the same non-problem as Portia. Whenever we go beaching together Jerusha takes great pleasure in showing me her (already!) darker legs vs her lighter, covered, bikini line. She says she hates going to the coast with white people because 20 minutes in they’re all whining, “Oh, my skin, my skin!”
Well, skin, you wage a fierce battle – but this is a war I’ll win yet. I’ll be chocolate by winter! …And then spend all winter slowly turning back to my regular marshmallow shade …and all summer trying to turn brown again. Man. That sucks. It’s just never going to end, is it?
My new theme song: