Pale and Interesting

Nicola RobertsImages of Kirsten Dunst last week weren’t amass with comments on her enviable figure or her teeny tiny black bikini, rather, the Marie Antoinette star’s ivory complexion – probably the only recent indication of exactly how obsessed we are with bronzed skin, that such a natural pallor should cause surprise.


Let’s face it, maple syrup looks better on pancakes than on skin – and there is no excuse for being unaware of the risks of sun damage or the precautions needed to care for your skin, from leather clad faces to skin cancer.


Yet, despite the wide birth of information  available, so many of us continue to push the boundaries with sun beds, excessive sunbathing and the costly price of a regular fake tan, all to avoid the so-called pasty skin. Again and again, they-and we- choose to embrace delightful colours of burnt sienna and terracotta over our own au natural skin tones.


Kirsten DunstLike porcelain stars, Nicole Kidman and Michelle Williams, I am, naturally, fair skinned. And yet, until recently, since the entourage of celebrities, buffed and bronzed, decided there was no other road but golden-brown where I thought I may be missing out on something.


And so began my experiment with sunless tanners. Gradual tans at first, their infamous biscuit smell poised to lend me a confidence I didn’t already possess with my light skin. Then the inevitable progression to the big guns, the heavy duty, the crème de la crème of bronzing, St Tropez and it’s motley crew of dupes.


The addition of streaking, patchy ankles, stained palms and the eventual realisation of the up-keep needed to maintain a realistic colour, only made the task seem even more high maintenance. Not to mention pointless.


Needless to say, I haven’t dabbled with the creosote since. Accepting my natural pallor now comes easily, despite the daunting first reveal of pasty legs in summer, covered in SPF 50 and an exceptionally large hat.


Now I embrace my milky complexion and delight in looking a little more natural, unique even, in a strange culture that encourages women to look more Wotsit like, than sun kissed. I’ve lost count of the amount of times people have said, ‘you’d look better with a tan’ as if it’s some dire imperfection, needing to be fixed, the incorrect perception that tanned skin is healthier, and therefore, more attractive.


Kylie Minogue - Wild Rose video

Pale skin used to be associated with the upper echelons of society, the nobility, the genteel, the educated and the wealthy. Old movies were rife with Southern Belles using parasols to keep the sun at bay, while the Elizabethans favoured white skin as a status symbol, a thing of beauty and a sign of wealth.  Queen Elizabeth famously put ceruse onto her skin to induce an even more pallid complexion, making Cate Blanchett a fitting choice for the role.


“Alabaster skin is a chic, classy, beautiful look that’s been gunning for a renaissance,” says celebrity make-up artist Lee Pycroft, who has worked with Cate Blanchett. “It’s been cherished by the fashion world for several years – think of all those Prada campaigns with Karen Elson – and now it’s taking centre stage.”


Nicola Roberts agrees; “My message to women is stop hiding behind the bronzer and just embrace your skin colour.”


There’s no doubt pale is making a long awaited comeback. Far from looking ghostly white, celebrities embracing their doll like features inspires us all to accept our own, and most importantly to take better care of our skin.


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1 Comment

  1. Hannah says:

    Pale is best! Loved this post! x