"You too white laaady, too white!" whined a female voice from one of the hundreds of hawkers packed onto Kuta Beach. I lay across my towel on the hot sand in a black two-piece. I was embarrassed, sure, but I could see the humour. Among all the tanned, coconut-scented girls, I probably looked like a Goth Barbie who just didn't fit in at the beach.
Over the past few years I've been on a roller coaster journey of learning to love and feel comfortable in my own skin and I admit, it hasn't always been easy... and sometimes I feel like I'm a walking ghost. The thing about pale skin, is that is is often loathed by many and loved by few. Here are a few examples of the type of negative tweets that you see just by searching the words 'pale skin' on twitter...
It breaks my heart and makes me feel sad reading those tweets, not only because I used to think and feel the same way, but because society has this image of the perfect woman ingrained into our minds, and she certainly doesn't appear to have pale skin!
Gone are the days when I used to worry about reaching that ideal image, 'fitting in' and not looking pale, smothering myself in oils and baking in the sun or even worse in a sunbed. The funniest thing is the amount of foundation and bronzer used in shades that are nowhere near natural, and should never have made their way onto my face! A few years ago, my skin tone used to rule my life. Before going somewhere I had to make sure I'd put my fake tan on the day before, had to make sure I had a dark enough foundation, had to avoid white clothes, white sheets, white anything... and I had to feel comfortable... i'm sure it's no surprise that eventually I started having panic attacks before going out with my girlfriends. And it didn't just end there, i'd be paranoid about my skin being blotchy, tan sitting in my pores on or if i'd exfoliated enough to stop it from grabbing around my armpits... it was a never ending circle, and that doesn't even include the other options of tanning beds or sunbathing. It wasn't until a young cousin passed away from skin cancer at the ripe age of 32, that the thought of possibly self inflicting skin cancer on myself by using tanning beds and sunbathing actually scared me. But here's the thing babes. I'm all about doing what makes you feel good! And nothing makes me feel better than a safe, glowing tan! See the thing about me was, I had recognised that I had developed some unhealthy ideals, where my absolute hate of my pale skin was not so good for my health. I remember when I started to be okay with being pale, it didn't matter anymore if my 'legs looked less toned' because they were pale, or if my shade of skin was lighter than everyone else's.
The moment I let go and worked with my natural skin tone and stopped trying to hide it, was the moment I started to become happier. We choose clothes based on what makes us feel comfortable and happy, but unfortunately we can't chose our skin tone - without damaging it or artificially colouring it - so stop fighting it, it's okay to be the palest person in your friendship group! Learning to love my skin colour brought me a level of confidence I didn't have before, and helped me on my road to becoming a better person, and y'know what - I don't ever have to worry about panic attacks again.
Here's the thing: I do what makes me FEEL my best! I'm comfortable in my own skin and I'm comfortable in glowing skin. Either way, I'm happy.