Columns, Opinion

SHEA: The fairest of them all

I’m so pale that my freckles are the color of a normal person’s skin.

Although my pigment decreases even more during the winter, at least cold weather is an excuse for wearing more clothing, thereby bypassing the need to rub dye all over my legs.

Marilyn Monroe once said that she loved being pale because it felt like being blonde all over, but I disagree. Light skin has the disadvantage of highlighting every scar, blemish or bruise on the body, and butterfly rashes from Rosacea are not exactly flattering either. Every time I’m even mildly uncomfortable or embarrassed, it is immediately apparent as a red flush overtakes my entire face and neck.

As a child, people called me names such as “Whitey” or “Snow White,” which is definitely better than being called fat or ugly, so I really didn’t mind. But at the same time, I don’t fully understand why my friends have always criticized me for having light skin.

I once tried being outside all day during the summer without any sunscreen, hoping that I could achieve the beautiful tanned skin all my friends had. Instead of waking up the next day bronze, I not only had a bright red sunburn, but also huge, painful blisters all over my shoulders. It was absolutely horrific and I got yelled at for neglecting to put on SPF 60.

That burn did not completely fade for months, making me self-conscious whenever I took off my clothes. Every time someone hugged me, pat me on the back or put an arm around my shoulder I would feel an intense, scalding pain. And don’t even mention showers: taking a shower with sunburn is one of the topmost unpleasant things I’ve experienced.

By the time we had our first prom, my best friend refused to let me go unless I did something about my unsightly whiteness. I explained that garden-variety sunbeams aren’t very effective, so she decided we’d use dye instead – basically the substance known to turn people orange.

I, however, did not turn orange, but instead finally attained the color I had been striving for my entire life. My skin was a brownish-honey color, and the tone was even over my entire body.

But whatever stuff I chose to slather onto my skin was expensive and I didn’t feel comfortable with all of those chemicals seeping into my pores, so I’ve reserved this dye for special occasions only. I decided, then, that it’s best to just accept my imperfect skin tone, even though this means avoiding colors that will wash me out entirely… as well as the sun.

The Queen’s opening lines in “Snow White” almost strike me as satirical relative to my own life, but in the “fairest of them all” contest, I would definitely defeat her and Snow White. I seriously pale in comparison to them both.


Sydney L. Shea is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached[email protected].


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