Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sunshine on my shoulder

I wouldn’t say I am a big fashion snob. I am pretty accepting of most trends and have even been one to like styles other people despise (I’ve said before my mom usually just finds me clothes she thinks are hideous and she knows I will like them).


I really would love RED hair! (source)

With that said, there are a few trends that I just can’t seem to get on board with. The major one that comes to mind is…

Leggings (and tights) as pants. I am sorry, but I just can’t help but stare when you put it all out there! I started wondering if I was the one off base here when I was in Chicago and saw a ton of girls with this look. Regardless of whether I am the uncool one or not, I loathe this look and in my mind it is still a major no-no, even if it is actually fashionably acceptable (I really don’t know any more).



There is another trend I have a harder time getting over…”the healthy tan.”

I have never been a huge sun seeker but I definitely have been a fan of the tan over the years. Unfortunately, I didn’t seem to inherit the tan skin gene from my grandfather so getting a little color to my skin required the traditional tanning method to achieve this much desired look.


I think we look pretty happy with the (white) skin we were born with

When I was younger I would actually try to get tan. I hoped to come home from our beach vacations or the pool nice and brown.



When I lived in Honduras in college I was careful in the sun (it took over 2 months to get a real tan) but I got my brownest and I liked it (although I can say I did get my first and only “sun spot” while there, a sign of the damage I was doing to my then very young skin).


A few months after Honduras, looking a little more like my brother (who got the tan genes)

As I got older (and wiser?) I started to be more careful with sunscreen but I still secretly hoped to get tan. I figured if I used sun protection and I still got tan, than so be it. It was a positive side benefit. I pretended like I didn’t care, but really I was just fooling myself.

I have continued away from this mentality. I didn’t tan for my wedding.


Almost as white as my dress…okay, not really. I wouldn’t say I’m pasty white or anything.

I have never been to a tanning bed or tried a spray tan. And now I try my best to not get tan (I still find myself being tempted for the glowing skin). I could do better with daily sunscreen (I haven’t found one I like and barely even having the chance during the day to look out a window let alone get outside makes it seem less necessary now) but I am doing better with hats (aren’t big straw hats cool?), etc.


sporting my hat and cover up at the beach (and a pretty lousy tan)


more hats…


…“cool” straw hats!

I still like the look of a tan and I like how I look with a tan, but I don’t think it is worth trying to be in style on this one. I’d rather look prettier for longer, with less wrinkles and dark spots. And more importantly, I’d rather be around for longer, to enjoy time with my family and others I care about. Maybe I could tan every day of my life and never have a problem. Or maybe I’ll get skin cancer regardless and this will be a rather ironic post. But I think I’ll try to increase my chances in the positive direction and be a little more careful. Too bad I think most of the damage we do to our skin is done when we are young (and dumb enough to think it “couldn’t happen to me”). But I’m making a positive change now. And I’ll remember when I have children.

Part of my change of heart came after my time on general surgery last year. I had the opportunity of cutting melanoma (skin cancer) out of two patients.

Unlike most of the cancer patients we saw, these were young, attractive, responsible girls. They were in school and working. They were healthy and obviously took care of themselves. They cared about their health and their appearance. They seemed more like me than most of the patients I have met in the hospital.

And they were beautifully tan. They didn’t seem to think they tanned any more than any of their friends, but they each had discovered a few weeks prior that they had melanoma. We took them for surgery. We injected a radioactive blue dye into the cancerous skin to find out if it had spread to the lymph nodes. Then, we cut out a large area of the affected skin and attempted to sew it back as best we could. This can be difficult and disfiguring. They were lucky it was on their leg and their back (and not on their face or other vital structures). Unlike many other cancers, melanoma isn’t well treated with chemotherapy or radiation. It is deadly and easily spreads. I am sure this was a scary time for these young early-twenty-something girls and their families.

*    *    *    *

If the other beautiful, tan girls I know could see this surgery I wonder if they would continue their days at the pool or the beach with the oils and the mini bikinis? Its ironic that what we see as attractive and even “healthy” is in fact quite damaging (not only potentially to our health but to our looks, as well).

For now, I’ll try to convince myself that pale is healthy and beautiful. And I think I’ll try to avoid any fake options as well. While these are healthier, I think it still sends a message that tan is better. I’m trying to be a trend setter here: accepting who we are no matter what shade (of white or brown). Anyone else catching on to the trend?


Suz said...

I think your, "not so pasty" look is perfect. You will be grateful in the future. I am getting sunspots on my forearm near my wrist. I can't believe how much it bothers me. I never burned and grew up in the days before sunscreen was invented (ha ha). We used baby oil at the pool!

Oriens said...

Dude Erin, I didn't tan for my wedding either! AND mine was in the winter. I think more girls need to tour the hospital and see those with metastatic melanoma. I will never forget a 40yr old pt who was told she had less then 2yrs to live do due to skin cancer.
Leggings as pants are daring. I think super skinny girls can get away with it. Anyone with thighs or a butt (me and 99% of the rest of the population) should stick to wearing leggings under skirts and dresses- which I love and think is totally cute.