WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: I’ve always been super fair. My mom likes to call me a porcelain doll, which is one of those things moms say that you love, but are also kind of embarrassed to admit you love. One of the comments I tend to get when people find out I’m Portuguese is, “but you’re so white!”
This photo makes me laugh. It’s my cousin and I in Cascais, Portugal:
NOTE: At the time this photo was taken, my cousin wasn’t as tanned as she usually is, and I was already about as tanned as I get from the sunshine the day before.
SCENE: Andrea, about to embark on a move to Scotland, is at London Drugs getting passport photos taken, which her soon-to-be university has recommended she get for a variety of purposes upon her arrival in the country. She stands, poses for her photo, then waits for the early 20s photo counter girl to do her thing.
PG: (Looking at the computer screen) Oh god.
AB: Is something wrong?
PG: You look so pasty in these photos.
AB: Well, I’m pretty fair.
PG: You’re like, way too pale. You look sick. Just a second.
The girl walks away and returns with a series of passport photos in which Andrea looks like this:
AB: Oh my god.
PG: I gave you a tan. You look way better here.
AB: That doesn’t even look like me.
PG: No, I know – you look way better.
AB: I’m sorry*, I don’t agree. Can you please print the originals?
AB: I’d like the original version. These look nothing like me. They’re freaking me out.
Photo Girl shoots Andrea a quintessential “Are you fucking kidding me?” look, followed by a pronounced eye roll.
She prints the original passport photos and cuts them into four pieces. Then she cuts the “tanned” photos as well.
PG: You should take these ones, too.
AB: Oh, no thanks. You can chuck ’em.
PG: You don’t want them?!
AB: Do I have to pay for them if I don’t like them?
AB: Great. I’ll take them ‘cos they’re funny. THANK YOU.
Andrea snatches her photo envelope and walks away in all her pale glory.
I wish I could say that my passport photo fiasco was the only time something like this happened. But I’ve lost count of the number of times some random girl at a clothing or makeup store has told me I “need a tan.”
Yeah. I need a tan like….like you need to be dumber!**
Even Facebook seems to want me to tan:
Look, there’s nothing wrong with tanning. (I mean, I’d rather you get a nice spray tan than damage your skin with way too much sun, but whatever, I’m not going to stop you from living your life.) Some people pull off a tan like nobody’s business.
But not me! Okay?!
Lesson: I should have stayed in the UK where pale = normal.
*Said the CANADIAN. God! Why did I apologize?