Weekly Shocks' Blog

The Dangers Of Being Unbelievably Pasty

Spring is nipping at our toes, so the annual process of preparing for its glorious arrival is upon us. Hooray! Start cleaning out your closets, storing away your snow boots, and shaving your legs for the first time in four months! Of course, one of the grandest rituals of spring is frying one’s flesh to a leathery crisp in the name of fashion, because God forbid you present an inch of uncooked skin to the world. I frankly find the whole excessive tanning game revolting, but that may be the result of recurring nightmares I have in which George Hamilton chases me with a package of Ritz Chips and a jackknife.

"You can't hide from our buttery goodness, little girl!"

"You can't hide from our buttery goodness forever, little girl!"


Of course, my distaste for tanning may very well be the simple result of insane jealousy. My skin tone knows only two settings: Casper or tomato. Good Lord, I’m white. Sadly, dangerously, glaringly white. Antebellum Southern belles only wished they could have attained my level of translucent pastiness. I compound this whiteness with being mincing and titchy with gratuitously dark hair and eyes, so the end result is that I strongly resemble a dorky preteen vampire. Any Twilight producers out there looking for extras? Call me. I once had a friend tell me I reminded him of a nineteenth century romantic heroine living on a moor somewhere and dying of tuberculosis. I’ve decided to take that as a compliment.

There’s really nothing I can do about my pastiness, though God knows I’ve tried.  I come from a long line of potato-gnawing Irish peasants who probably thought the huge orb of fire that appeared in the sky once every ten months was a sign that the gods were seriously pissed and a human sacrifice had to be made. Then they’d all flee back to their mud huts because if they stayed outside any longer, they’d be burnt to a crisp, either at the stake or by the sun. It is therefore deeply ingrained within my DNA: the sun is not my friend. He will hurt me.

I visited a friend in Santa Barbara a couple of summers ago and made the colossal mistake of spending fifteen minutes outside without sunblock. The resulting burn across the bridge of my nose blistered and scabbed over in horrifying fashion. I looked like a victim of domestic abuse or impetigo. Or like a really, really stupid pasty-ass white person. When I came home, my dad, who had grown up in San Diego and was my only family member who could actually sustain a tan, took one look at my face and laughed. “You have a master’s degree! From Oxford! Did you not think to slather some sunscreen on your face?” Yeah, thanks for the advice, Dad.

At least my dad knew that milk white was my default setting and it could not be changed without dire consequences. Complete strangers are constantly worried about my paleness, and I’ve had people I barely know coming up to me and asking if I’m sick, tired, or on drugs. I never know how to respond to this, partly because I’m mildly impressed with the chutzpah it takes to criticize a perfect stranger on her skin color. I usually smile and apologetically mutter something about how skin cancer and appallingly rude questions from people I don’t care about make me uncomfortable.

I’ve long since come to terms with my pastiness and have actually grown to rather like it. My friends affectionately (at least I hope it’s affection) tease me about my skin, and I like to think my lack of pigmentation helps me fit right in here on this lovely English island. Heck, one of the reasons I adore living in the UK is that most of the people here are nearly as pasty as I am. So, along with that, my morbid social awkwardness, and my fondness for potatoes, I end up fitting right in! Hooray!

But I kid the UK and its pasty, weird, spud-loving inhabitants. Please don’t hurt me. See how pale I am? I’m sick! Or on drugs! You wouldn’t hit a drug addict, would you? Oh, you would, huh? Um. Gotta go.


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  1. * 4wrdthnkndad says:

    Screw the whole tanning concept. Proudly walk with a big hat, Hawaiin shirt, and black socks. Remember “black socks, they never get dirty.”

    Posted 9 years, 3 months ago
  2. * Fluff says:

    Enjoyable blog you have here..

    I know the feeling of people coming up to you and asking about your skin color. I’m a mix of Argentinien/American/Malaysian. So my color is kind of a lighter spanish skin color (I’m always tan looking). But still, when I was in Malaysia with my younger sister (who is tan but a bit whiter than me) and my mother people would come up to her and ask her if ‘those’ were her birth children, when she would say yes, they would reply, “WHY ARE THEY SO WHITE?!?” like there’s something wrong with that…

    I think it’s stupid to freak out over that, I mean, so? Never seen a person with leukemia before? What’s your problem wedge neck?


    Posted 9 years, 3 months ago
  3. * J.R. says:

    George Hamilton is truly the “Incredible Melting Man”.

    Posted 9 years, 3 months ago

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