Skin Colour is Not a Fashion Statement (And no, we won’t “get a tan…”)

Amber writes…

“Get a tan!” “She’s too pale!” “Urgh, she really needs some sun!”

These are all comments I’ve read recently on various fashion and celebrity websites – and sometimes right here on The Fashion Police. They probably sound pretty familiar to anyone with pale skin who’s ever been on vacation and returned home to a slew of comments along the lines of, “You don’t have much of a tan!”, always uttered in a vaguely accusing manner, as if the pale-skinned person has somehow failed to live up to some agreed standard of skin colour.

As a pale skinned person myself (I’m more pale blue than I am white: my natural skin colour is similar to Nicola Roberts’ in the image above), these comments never fail to depress me. I don’t tan. Ever. I would no more lie out in the sun without SPF70 than I’d throw myself in the fire. This is not a fashion statement: it’s just plain common sense for someone who burns easily, and who’s in a high-risk group for skin cancer because of it. I will not risk my health for the sake of fashion, and I don’t believe anyone else should, either.

The thing is, I don’t think anyone would argue that a sun tan is worth risking skin cancer for. On our post about Rumer Willis last week, though, for instance, I noticed a couple of comments about Rumer’s skin being “too white”, and those comments surprised me a little because as far as I can see, while she obviously has pale skin, that’s her natural colour.

When did it become OK to criticise people for their natural skin colour, or to suggest that they should cover up, because that colour is somehow too unattractive to be on show? Imagine the outcry there would be if a photo of Beyonce, say, was greeted with comments of “She’s too dark.” And what do the people who criticise pale skin want us to do, anyway? Lie in the sun and risk our health? Grab a bottle of fake tan and turn ourselves orange?

Just to be clear, I’m not against people tanning if they want to, or, indeed using self tanner. In fact, I’ve hit the bottle myself on occasion (the bottle of gradual tanner, I mean. Not the wine bottle. Although that too, sometimes) and will probably do it again if I feel like it. It’s the idea of it being a requirement that bothers me. This idea that if you’re pale skinned, you MUST try to change it, or that a pale-skinned woman cannot possibly be considered beautiful or stylish. (The women pictured at the top of the page would all beg to differ.)

As far as I’m concerned, skin colour is not a fashion statement, and never should be. No one should be made to feel ashamed of their natural skin colour, be it black, white, or any of the many, many shades in between. No one should feel like they have to change their skin colour in order to wear certain clothes or feel “fashionable”. Comments like “she needs to get a tan!” should have no place in an enlightened society.

What’s your take on this one? Can pale people wear shorts? Or do you agree that when it comes to fashion, skin colour shouldn’t be a factor?


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