September 16, 2010

my fair ladies

(Left to Right) Supermodels Coco Rocha, Jessica Stam, Shalom Harlow, and Karen Elson

What do Coco Rocha, Jessica Stam, Shalom Harlow, and Karen Elson have in common? Beautiful and successful, most certainly, but it's their creamy fair skin that sets them apart from the bronzed ladies walking the Victoria's Secret runways. The desire to be tan has long since been the most coveted trait for girls and women, especially the ones my age…and especially in Omaha. You'd be hard-pressed to find a strip mall that doesn't have a tanning salon of some sort, and the number of self-tanning products sold in grocery stores is at an all-time high. With so many models and actresses embracing their pale, why is it that tanning is still the most sought-after physical attribute? 

Everyone has their thing; I know many people who cannot imagine not hitting the tanning beds at least once a week. I know people who won't dare step into the sunlight without being slathered in SPF 100 (myself included…and, yes, they make such a thing). It used to be that being tanned was seen as "lower-class" because it showed that you were working outside all day. Nobility had the very fair skin because they were able to lounge around indoors. Certain societies would actually try to whiten their skin.  How did it all turn around? I blame Coco Chanel.  She inadvertently bronzed her skin while vacationing in Cannes on a yacht. When she returned to Paris, everyone wanted her golden glow. And so the trend began. Thanks a lot, Coco. Flash forward to 2010: the uber-classy ladies of 'Jersey Shore' have such a deep tan, it's practically orange. Marc Jacobs has his models in the Louis Vuitton Fall 2010 show donning a vintage look, completely with fair skin and curves. Who do you want to emulate? 

Snooki from MTV's Jersey Shore and Jessica Stam at the Louis Vuitton Fall 2010 show

Having been extremely pale my whole life, I've experienced my  "fair" share of alienation and teasing in grade school. Even today, I can't go in public without people staring at my ghostly white legs. Yet, strangely enough, I've never felt the urge to join a tanning salon or lay out in my backyard. I think people should embrace what they have (naturally) and look to role-models who do the same. I love reading French Vogue and Nylon and seeing the cover girls rocking their porcelain complexions, some of them. Most models featured in any fashion magazines today are imperfect or, dare I say, even strange looking. Pale skin, crooked teeth, gap-toothed; It's what makes them so interesting and beautiful.

(Left to Right) Fair actresses Anne Hathaway, Julianne Moore, Rachel Weisz


So for those of you who share my plight, remember that you're beautiful the way you are, tan or not. Pale skin is glamorous and healthy; it's okay to be different. And being true to yourself? It's fabulous and always in vogue. 



  1. I'll admit that I immediately feel conflicted about this post as pale leaves out women of color.

  2. I loved your post! I love all the images of celebrities with beautiful pale complexions & the funny contrast of snooki & the Vuiton runways. I hate tanning and also am very fond of cremes and lotions with lots of spf in it. It's SO damaging to your skin, it's seems so ignorant for people to claim it gives them a 'healthy' glow when its far from that!

  3. Hey Jessica! thanks for stopping by my blog. I appreciate you taking time to respond to my comment. I look forward to reading your blog and am now following!

  4. I loved this post - and those are some of my fair ladies as well!

  5. i love pale skin. i'm olive-skinned myself and definitely look good with a slight tan, but i hate getting too dark. i don't understand the appeal of it.

    i like your blog btw. and thanks for stopping by mine also. i'll be following on bloglovin. =)

    Vogue Gone Rogue

  6. I live in the south, where tanning salons abound as well. In high school and college I was a tanorexic (although never as bad as poor Snookie) and I shiver to think of the irreversible damage I did to my skin. Through the last few years, I started to embrace my natural fairness, and I don't go out in the sun without a liberal slathering of SPF. My skin looks and feels better than ever, and I know it's better for me in the long run. Great post!

  7. i'm asian. i wanted to be caucasian hahahaha


  8. I wish I had embraced my fairness sooner. Growing up in San Diego, I was a swimmer who never used sunscreen. Today, I am fair but covered in (very unattractive) freckles. So, yes! Embrace your fairness and use a lot of sunscreen. Cool post!

  9. GREAT post! I'm a pale, freckely strawberry blonde and just love seeing all these redheads and fair-skinned ladies coming into style! Ah, inspiration to start my week :)


    A Toast

  10. Beautiful, encouraging post! I'm ghostly pallid myself -- never had the urge to damage my skin in booths or hot sunlight, but did spend some uncomfortable months as a young teen trying streaky orange self-tanners in the late 80s.

    The trick, I think, is to really *work* it -- to strive for the smoothest, velvety creaminess, to cultivate a beautiful contrasting hair color (rich brown, black, vivid red tones, or even an ethereally pale blonde, I suppose), and to build a wardrobe of flattering rich colors, too. Medium Pepto-Bismol pink is not for me, but perhaps the deepest fuschia is, or a pale cameo pink as long as I accent it with deep brown or black. I'm still working on all this, believe me...

  11. Wonderful post! I'm quite pale myself. It's a struggle to find makeup that is even light enough for me! Sometimes I think I've got it - but then I see my face in the sunlight and realize it's a different shade from my neck. And back to square 1.

    I've gotten my fair share of teasing - most of it is good natured, but some of it wasn't. In college my roommates all went tanning, and when they asked me why I didn't it almost sounded like they were equating it with not brushing my teeth or combing my hair - like it was a general body care ritual that was unthinkable to skip!

    Cloud of Secrets - I think you're so right about the contrasting colors.

  12. Great post. I am very pale - English rose, I think they call it - haha!! I tend to pick up a little colour naturally on my arms and face even when I'm wearing a high SPF in the summer - just from being out and about but my legs are always always pale, so I do tend to add a little fake colour to them - nothing too orange, just to take the "glow" off! I envy those who are comfortable with their pale skin as I'm not. Good for you :)

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