Pale Women Are Beautiful Too: Stop Saying We Need a Tan

I am not pasty, sickly, or a vampire. I am embracing my natural skin-tone

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

I have always been pale and was very insecure about it.

When I was 6-years-old, the kids in my class started calling me “ghosty” and a vampire. Their words really hurt me and I would cry to my mother when I came home from school.

I wondered where they learned their dislike for pale skin at such a young age? Was it from the media that mocks paleness or their parents? Either way, those little kids were misguided and I never retaliated because I believed I was ugly.

My whole life, people have been telling me to “get a tan” or asking me if I’m sick.

I have been judged by the color of my skin but not in the terrible, oppressive way that People of Color have been. I want to make it clear that this article is not a comparison to their struggle because my struggle will never compare.

The tanned “California girl” look is revered in our society. Personally, I think some people overdo the tanning and offensively tread the line of impersonating People of Color.

I have tanned and bronzed myself, only to feel weird in my own skin. This is because I was doing it for other people and not for myself.

I didn’t look like myself when I was tanned. I received many compliments when I was “bronzed up”, but that didn’t mean anything to me if I didn’t feel good in my own skin.

By the time my nineteenth birthday rolled around, I had black hair and was embracing my pale skin.

On the night of my “legal age” celebrations, a handsome young man walked up to me and gave me a rose. He said: “You remind me of Snow White”. Then he walked away without waiting for an answer from me.

This was a stark contrast to the people who called me a vampire and smiled at me, waiting for a reaction.

That was the first and last time someone ever said something nice about my “paleness” and I never forgot it. Thank you, mystery dude.

I let my natural beauty shine through and someone noticed.

Why not let your true colors shine through?

I have learned to embrace my pale skin and you should too.

I don’t tan in the sun, I actually cringe when I see other mothers baking themselves at the beach.

They make their children wear sunscreen and don’t wear it themselves.

Remember, your daughter is watching you and wondering why you’re excited “you got some color” at the beach.

Often times, the seeds of vain insecurities are planted at home.

As parents, sometimes we forget the impact we have on our children.

I had a spray tan done for my wedding last year because I didn’t want to look pale in my dress and luckily, it was subtle. If my daughter looks at the pictures, she won’t notice. Hopefully.

I have coarse, curly hair and so does my daughter. Daily, I brush through my curls, trying to make them tamer.

One morning, Willow saw me doing this and tried to get rid of hers with her tiny hairbrush.

She even had a look of cranky contemplation on her face while looking in the mirror at her reflection.

She is 2-and-a-half.

I have decided to embrace my hair. If it’s going to help my child feel better about herself, I can live with the hair I’ve hated since I was young.

You never know, I may end up loving it!

If you look at Hollywood and its many actresses, there are only a handful of women who embrace their pale skin.

Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Emma Watson, and Liv Tyler are some of the notable actresses who embrace their “paleness”.

Side note: I’ve never cared for the terms “fair-skinned” and “porcelain” when describing pale skin. They both conjure an image of perfection, and my skin is not perfect by any means.

Anyways, most actresses and celebrities tan. They either have a tanning bed in their homes or use an expensive self-tanner.

The majority of actresses who have embraced their pale skin are older women. I think this type of physical acceptance comes with wisdom.

After all, it’s easier to slap on some brown, smelly lotion than to stick out in the crowd.

Just like normal women, celebrities have insecurities.

I love seeing pale actresses on television shows. I’m currently binge-watching “The OC” and Kelly Rowan who plays the matriarch of the Cohen family (Kirsten) is pale, despite living in California.

She is in stark contrast to the other women who lay in the sun all day in Newport Beach. I think she was cast this way because she is a working woman who doesn’t have time to sit outside and sun herself.

Either way, I enjoy seeing a pale woman on my favorite television show.

Kirsten is beautiful and pale so I can be beautiful and pale too!

One of my biggest pet peeves is people telling me “You need to get a tan”.


I like the way I look and it took me a while to get here but these types of comments still hurt.

It’s kind of ridiculous if you think about it: You want me to bake myself or smear my body in brown stuff just to reassure you that I’m healthy?

I have noticed these comments have died off in recent years. I only get one or two of these statements said to me in the summer as opposed to ten.

Are some of us finally learning that it’s unacceptable to mock someone else’s appearance?

Another classic line is “You look sick, you need some color”. To be fair, I probably am sick due to chronic illness but this still isn’t the right way to ask about how I’m feeling.

We need to realize that saying these things make people feel like they are unattractive. It embarrasses us.

These kinds of comments foster insecurities in young women and make them feel like they have to be tanned to be beautiful.

Do you know what is beautiful? Someone who embraces who they are and what they look like without apologizing for it.

Stop making women feel bad for looking like themselves.

Skin tips for pale women

This beauty rant wouldn’t be complete without some good tips for embracing your natural beauty. If you don’t wear makeup, kudos to you! You can skip this part and pat yourself on the back.

  • Perfect your skincare routine: Healthy skin equals fewer imperfections to cover. Get some good concealer and color corrector if you need it.
  • Drink a lot of water and don’t go to bed without washing off your makeup.
  • Take a look at your face before you coat it in concealer and foundation. Only use these products on the areas that need it (redness, veins, and blemishes).
  • Don’t put product all over your face, you’re covering your beauty!
  • Make sure you have chosen the right blusher for your skin tone. Blush can emphasize areas of your face: Sweep toward the cheekbones and up to define your cheekbones or use blush only on the cheeks to make your cheeks look fuller.
  • I recommend skipping bronzer altogether, but if you must use it, buy a very light bronzer.
  • I really dislike the concept of contouring. It completely changes your face and typically, only looks good on camera and from a distance.
  • Doe eyes look great with pale skin, use mascara on your top lid only. To make your eyes look bigger, use a black eyeliner to define your bottom lashes from the middle of your eye to the outer corner, dot it on lightly. With eye makeup, less is more.
  • I love highlighter! It looks so nice on any skin tone. Find a light shade of highlighter and apply it to the areas the light will hit on your face: Cheekbones, brow bone, and the Cupid’s bow on your upper lip.
  • Remember, you can “glow” without tanner and bronzer.

The best beauty tip for any skin tone: Look after your skin! Make sure you are wearing your SPF 40 sunscreen, moisturize daily if it agrees with your skin, and again, drink lots of water.

Love your skin and it will love you back!

No matter what your skin tone is: Stay true to your natural beauty.

Learn to love the skin you are in and teach the young women in your life to do the same.

Remember, when you love someone, you don’t want them to change who they are to make you more comfortable.

You embrace the person they are on the inside and outside.

Amy Cottreau is a freelance writer who hails from a small city in Atlantic Canada. She enjoys interacting with fellow writers, dreaming of ideas for her next article, and researching a myriad of topics

Wife, mother, and researcher of a myriad of subjects. I love to write about anything and everything! Writer for The Startup, Better Marketing, & The Ascent👊

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