A black woman asks: What’s up with white women wanting to get dark?


THE RIGHT IDEA: Think Julianne Moore, not Mickey Rourke. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • THE RIGHT IDEA: Think Julianne Moore, not Mickey Rourke.
Aristotle said, “The body is at its best between the ages of 30 and 35.” I think my body was at its best at 26, but I’ll take it. The writer Edward Moore wrote, “’Tis now the summer of our youth.” Aww yeah. I’m all for that.

So, at age 34, with the semester over and Memorial Day a few days away, I’m declaring this the summer of my youth. And I’m defining youth as that time of your life when you’re plain old ballsy because you just don’t give a damn.

As my first act of ballsiness, I’m telling all you sunbathing white women this: Stop tanning. You’re freaking me the fuck out.

You know who you are. You all lie out in the sun and roast like rotisserie chickens. You laze around in your own sweat and get all crispy. Then you turn red, a red which, according to you, will eventually morph into some shade of acceptable brown that’s way better than your actual skin tone.

Please explain this to me. Black women don’t sunbathe and we can’t understand why you do. Our brains can’t process it. I think it’s genetic. Someone once told me the reason I can’t understand tanning is because I “already have a tan.”

Honey, it’s not a tan. It’s melanin. You have it, too. I’ve got eumelanin, the pigment of darker-skinned complexions. You’ve got pheomelanin, the pigment of fairer complexions.

Find a way to cope, ladies. Don’t allow UV rays to attack and break down the DNA in your skin so your body will fight back and produce more melanin (still pheomelanin) to protect itself. Don’t turn as red as the Walgreen’s sign where you stand in line to buy aloe. Don’t let your shoulders look like a Coach bag. It’s not cute.

You know it hurts. I know this because I got burned once. Yes: we can burn, too. I was in Key West wandering around all day in a tank top. The next day, pieces of me were sloughing off my arms every time I moved them.

Today, I asked one of my white girlfriends to shed some white woman wisdom. She said she’s all for natural color, but thinks some women have an infatuation with the “sun-kissed” (more like sun-smacked) look for a few reasons. She’s heard men say they think a tan is sexy because it looks exotic, like the woman from Scranton is a woman from Sao Paolo. She said some women feel like their skin is firmer, and they look skinnier, when they have a tan.

Forget that. Think of Julianne Moore. She’s beautiful, right?

Now think of Mickey Rourke.

Don’t be Mickey Rourke.

I’ve heard that being in the sun causes the body to naturally release endorphins. We all like a buzz. Get yours, like the rest of us, from a bucket of Coronas. In the shade. With a hat on.

The Aristotle quotation ends with this: “The mind is at its best about the age of 49.” Don’t wait until then to get right with your melanin.

Somebody’s got to be French Vanilla so I can be Chocolate Deluxe. 

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