The other day (and I was only half-listening) someone on television (news, I think) came out and said how people are now being warned about indoor tanning and skin cancer. Well, first of all - and as far as I'm concerned, "duh" (as "they" say, although I only say it once in a great while when it seems particularly appropriate). Is there something that would make anyone think that any attractiveness benefits from making their pale skin look "healthier" would be safer by doing some artificial thing (other than painting their with fake tan) would be better than just spending some time out in the sun?
First, we need sun. There are all kinds of health benefits from getting sun (less sun for people with pale complexions, of course). And, there can be health problems when people don't get enough.
Keep in mind that I'm probably "as white as they come". Well actually, a few people in the world are a little "whiter-as-they-come" than I am; but they tend to be either the blondest of natural blonds, "orangist" of red-heads, or else sick.
In any case, as a teen I pretty much didn't worry much about how much sun I got, mainly because the only time I got a sunburn was if I went to the beach (and that was only in summer and I was always in New England, it wasn't a huge problem - at least so I thought). One year, once I was old enough to get myself to the beach more, I got a few too many sunburns; and when a particularly bad one had, shall I say, "cleared away" I was left with some strange, splotchy, "pigment" on my shoulders. They weren't really freckles (I pretty much didn't have those anyway), but if I didn't like freckles I REALLY didn't like these weird splotches.
If you think where I'm headed with this is that they were skin cancer, they weren't. They were just ugly. I was nineteen and really didn't want to invite "ugly" on my previously non-ugly (although - yes - pale-as-pale-as-pale-can-be) shoulders).
That's when I decided to be careful about covering up and using a really good sunblock at the beach or when I knew I'd be out in the sun more than I was under everyday circumstances. I'm really not someone who wants to be wearing sunblocks, or even bug repellants; because, to me, they (and a lot of other skin-care products) feel like I'm wearing a grease-jacket (or something).
That's when I decided that covering up with clothing that was comfortable enough for me in Summer (again, it's New England where I still am; how hot does it ever really get for how long; AND, I'm not someone who is bothered by heat anyway most of the time).
So, for most of my adult life I've just been most comfortable covering up; and with what little strong-sun exposure there is to be had in New England and/or with my own lifestyle, it hasn't been a big challenge to use clothing as protection from the sun. (Here's another good thing about that: If you cover up with sleeves or other clothing nobody can see how pale-as-they-come you are anyway - a kind of one-side "win/win" type of thing, sort of.)
It hasn't been easy in a world in which so few people seem to imagine that if you don't wear tank tops and shorts when you, say, go to the grocery store in Summer; but I kind of figure if I get good and old enough (maybe I'm already there) a lot of people who would question my preference for covering up my just write off the apparent peculiarity of it to my being old (and maybe colder than younger people are). Also, while I have my own ways of trying to stay reasonably fit (in view of my lifestyle and/or a couple of leg injuries that have thrown a monkey wrench into some physical activities), I've never been one to, say, go out and run as exercise. If I did I'd use sunblock and wear whatever else most other people wear when they run in the sun.
In the meantime (and after once again thinking about sun exposure, indoor tanning, and even chemicals that people may use in order to look "at least a little bit healthier", or whatever it is they hope to accomplish by trying to change their pale-as-they-come complexion into not-quite-so-pale); I once again considered the surprisingly common questions, sometimes odd looks, and even suggestions that there's something peculiar (even funny) about my choice to cover up when I'm out in the sun (that I've dealt with a good part of my adult life, even though I was once under the impression that once you leave high-school you don't have to worry about wearing what everybody else wears); and the fact that someone on television (or in the medical field) actually has to warn people about indoor tanning's not being a whole lot safer than that of the outdoor-sun variety.
In the meantime, while the sun (and whatever else is involved with aging) has certainly gotten to my face; and while the hand that's always been "the window hand" while I was driving (and that started to show "pigment issues" as early as when I was in my late thirties, and that has continued to look "that much older" than its partner); my real point here is that those arms and shoulders that I've been careful to keep covered ever since that "weird pigment thing" happened (and eventually faded) pretty much don't look any different ("weathering-wise") than they ever have - and I'm sixty-two now. I'm not being smug here. I'm just saying that as someone who is as white-as-they-come and almost as pale as pale can be; I've got forty years of adult life (and keeping covered up) as a track record, and have now earned the right (as far as I'm concerned) to say, "Take that all you people who have seen something peculiar about my choice of clothing AND have felt the need to make one kind of comment or another about it." (OK, yes, I'm kind of being smug here -but not the kind of smug some people might think.)
I can't speak for anyone who isn't glow-in-the-dark white, of course; but to those who are younger than I....
1. It's not such a horrible thing to be glow-in-the-dark white, and
2. It isn't high-school. You don't always have to wear what everybody else wears, and
3. Don't wait until you or someone you love gets cancer before you figure out all this.
Now if only I could have headed off the fine lines under the eyes. (Oh, and yes, I suppose that was kind of a lecture. I figure, as I'm what I like to think of as "the edge of heading for old", I may as well get some more practice on the fine art of lecturing everybody who happened to be born later than I was.)