“Girl! You are as pale as a ghost!”
“Woah, you haven’t been outside much, have you?”
“Wow, I bet you glow in the dark!”
For me and many others born with this delightful color of pale skin, these are just a few of the comments we hear on a regular basis. And even though I’m used to receiving them and mostly brush them off or make a joke about my specific shade of white-ness, I’ve started to wonder: how did this become OK?
We know it’s not polite to comment on someone’s eye color. They can’t change it! And we know not to comment on people’s hair color. Maybe they did change it! So, why is it acceptable to comment on my skin color?
By now, we’ve all heard the stories about culture influencing skin preference: like at some point, pale skin was once a sign of wealth and privilege and at another time, was so desirable that it was worth poisoning one’s face with lead. And don’t even get me started on all the misconceptions about dark skin that would fill a million blog posts.
And also by now, we’ve also learned the detriments of tanning, both under the sun or under the lights: like CANCER and sagging and early aging.
So, why do we still want people/me to be change my skin color?
Commenting on my skin color tells me that what I’m born with isn’t good enough. That I should be different. That I need to change to be socially acceptable. That I need to put my body at risk of disease to avoid judgment. And in a society that stands up against body shaming, it seems we’ve missed the piece that wraps around, oh, I don’t know, my entire body!
So, let’s stop.
I’ll talk to you and you’ll talk to me and we’ll leave our skin out of it.