BLOG: Rant & Rave

Staff Writer
Woodford Times
Jeanette Kendall

I’ve found a kindred spirit.

I read Amy Gehrt’s column titled “Getting That ‘Healthy Glow’” in the Pekin Daily Times.

Gehrt talks about being pale and the dangers of skin cancer.

I can relate to her. I am extremely pale. I have a lot of red-haired women in my family, although my parents both have dark brown hair. Somehow I inherited the pale, freckled skin of a redhead.

Perhaps this is why fall is my favorite season. It’s a time when I can cover my ghostly-white legs and arms in slacks and sweaters.

I dread summer when I know it will be so hot that I will be forced to wear short sleeved shirts and capris (I have pretty much given up wearing shorts anymore).

In grade school, my classmates called me Casper on the playground, poking fun at my fair skin.

As a teenager, people made comments like, “Put on your sunglasses, Jeanette’s blinding us.”

My defense now is that Nicole Kidman looks fabulous and she is pale.

But, still, I envy those I know whose skin seems to automatically tan during the first few days of summer. My boyfriend often holds his arm next to mine to compare how much darker he is compared to me.

I bought my best friend a tanning package for her birthday, and now her skin is a beautiful golden brown. It isn’t marked with freckles; it appears to be perfect.

The closest I came to a tan is after a vacation in Missouri one year. Of course, I burned first. Then, my skin seemed to turn a tad darker, but I couldn’t tell if that was all of my freckles popping out and overlapping each other. Before I could get any darker,  my skin peeled.

I tried a tanning bed in college, but my skin broke out in little red dots all over.

I also tried the messy self-tanning lotions and a spray tan, which wasn’t bad. However, I am not one who wants to pay the money to keep up a fake tan on a monthly basis.

So, even though I think other women with nice, dark tans look nice, I tell myself that pale skin is in too. After all, with all these popular vampire shows out right now, such as “Twilight” and “Tru Blood,” I fit right in.

During the Renaissance, all women wanted pale skin. I’ve read that they even ate small doses of arsenic to make their skin whiter! I also read that being creamy white meant you were an aristocrat and being tan meant you were poor and worked in the fields.

According to the history of pale skin fashion, “Several centuries ago, one of the most fashionable tendencies in the sphere of beauty was a white transparent skin. Pale skin fashion reigned both among men and women. All men and women dreamt to have such skin, and in every possible way they tried to make the skin of required level of whiteness. In many fairy tales, novels and histories of that time, there is frequently a phrase describing appearance of the heroine: ‘her skin looked white like milk’ Whiteness of skin was one of the major components of female beauty. In pictures and frescos of painters of 16-19th centuries women with white practically transparent and pale skin were also represented.”

It seems pale skin was still in vogue in the ’20s. I don’t recall seeing any photos of tan flapper girls. Even during World War II, the pin-up girls were pale with bright red lipstick.

They say that trends and fashions fade away and resurface. I’m just waiting for the day when white skin makes its comeback.

Until then, I will take advantage of the fact that in spite of it being hot outside, inside every place in Central Illinois, it is freezing cold, which requires fall clothes.

Jeanette Kendall is executive editor at TimesNewspapers.