The sun is finally out again and many people are rushing to the lounger and preparing to defrost from arguably the longest winter ever. As a certified ginger I am already stocking up on SPF out of necessity (Lobster-girl is not a vibe) but there are other reasons people strive for their "perfect shade" and this is something I believe is worth talking about as summer fast approaches.
Worldwide the issue of skin tone, colour, and complexion is something that is socially relevant both historically and to this day. We have tanned skin as a beauty standard in the West leading to an industry of fake tanning products, sun beds, oils, and injectables. We have western ideals rooted in racism leading to an industry of skin lightening creams and treatments elsewhere. These industries can be dangerous physically as well as emotionally and mentally and create unrealistic standards for most, they play into outdated racist ideals as well as negative body image as a whole. So why do we keep buying into them? These are the reasons I propose we don't.
It is an act of defiance against beauty standards and racially charged ideals
Whether it is the desire to lighten your skin or the desire to tan, choosing to instead love the skin you have and not listen to outside influence is defiance in a very pure form. It is revolutionary to love yourself in a time where there are so many industries, people, and historic views that would have you hate yourself and try to change. Whether you are rejecting the premise that lighter skin is purer or more beautiful, the idea that there is a perfect colour to obtain, or the idea that your natural skin tone is not "glowing" or "sun-kissed", what you are really rejecting is societies attempt to oppress you or sell you products by damaging your self worth and I'm here for that movement.
It suits you best
Genetically your skin tone is a combination of colours, undertones, and overtones all brought together by generations of evolution working to create the most attractive combinations possible. Often the skin tone you have works with your hair and eye colours to create the most harmonious blend possible, it's why often your natural hair and eye colour suit you most comfortably. Despite the societal ideas about skin tone attractiveness, the truth is that you really are best the way you were made and altering this significantly can throw off the balance in a person's features and tones.
Whether we're talking irreversible damage caused by chemicals in skin lightening products, the risk of skin cancer in those tanning extensively, or simply the damage to your skins surface by using heavy or unnatural products, I can assure you that what looks better than skin of any one colour is skin which is healthy and well looked after. Instead of worrying about achieving a certain colour the focus should be on what is best for our skin, as someone who is naturally fair I have come to embrace the fact that my skin just really doesn't react well to sun exposure and, in the same way I would never suggest harsh chemicals for someone with sensitive skin, people need to be mindful of the potential damage products could do to their skin.
It tells you about yourself
Skin is a massive indicator for health issues and can be the first sign of things going a bit sideways so it is important that you know and see your baseline so that you can tell what's happening. It could be breakouts, dry skin, or irritation which could be caused by things like diet, allergies, or hormones that you may not notice if you're using products which may also have these effects. It can also be the tone of your skin changing- dark patches, washed out complexion, flushed appearance, colouration of the skin, all of which are harder to notice if you're consistently altering the appearance of your skin yourself. For the most part you don't want to not notice your body telling you something is wrong because you're covering it or abusing it.
There's nothing wrong with tanning in the summer to a healthy degree, or purposefully staying out of the sun as to not tan, there's nothing wrong with brightening areas of your face with highlight or throwing on some bronzer. There's really nothing wrong with the occasional spray tan or treatment to brighten skin without bleaching. I just think we should all try harder to love the skin we have, understand better the healthy boundaries we can stay within for our skin health, and embrace our natural colouring. Take it from a ginger- not all of us are meant to have tans and for those with naturally darker skin? Enjoy that, because honestly you can wear colours that will never exist in my wardrobe and I am bitter.