“You don’t look Italian. Your skin is so pale.” Says everyone when I tell them I have (Northern) Italian heritage (and Irish and German).
“Are you a vampire? You’re so white.” Says a complete stranger while I’m working at a restaurant one summer.
“OMG you are SO pale!” A friend interrupts me suddenly as we are walking down the street to tell me this like it was new news.
“You look tired. And pale.” Says a co-worker says one morning acting “concerned” about my lack of pigmentation (and it was 6:45 a.m. in the middle of winter for crying out loud!).
Would you walk up to a dark-skinned person and say, “My, you’re looking very black today!” I hope not! So why is do people feel the need to point out my paleness? (As if I wasn’t already aware of it!!!).
In defense of my skin, I have also heard compliments.
“Your skin is so milky like Nicole Kidman’s. It’s beautiful.”
“You look beautiful like a porcelain doll.”
I’ve heard friends who lived in Japan say they put bleach in their creams and face washes to lighten their skin. I’ve seen Asians use umbrellas to guard against the sun. They think white(er) skin is beautiful. Queen Elizabeth I is always depicted with a paper white face; it was a sign of wealth. (See? It’s all about perception).
My paternal grandmother (of Irish descent) likes pale skin too. My aunt came back from the salon with a spray tan and she was aghast. “It’s such a shame that you covered up your beautiful white Irish skin that God gave you!”
However, I am an American living in America in 2015. Americans think tan and bronze is beautiful (even orange is better than white, right Snooki?!).
I once tried self-tanner in high school right before cheerleading try-outs. I slapped it on with my bare hands and it had already stained them by the time I tried to wash it off. I did spirit hands with orange palms, but I still made the team. Then I tried self-tanner again right before we went to Hawaii for my high school graduation trip. When I got in the water it started streaking and then I looked like an orange and white zebra. Those experiences scarred me from trying self-tanner again…that is until now. Self-tanners have improved A LOT since my zebra days. I don’t just want to be tan because that’s what society prefers, but it’s nice to start the summer with a golden glow (summer starts early in Texas!). Actually for me, a “golden glow” is what others might call normal non-pale skin, not tan.
I was at Sephora and I saw a new-to-me self-tanner called Vita Liberata. Don’t judge, but my deciding factor was the Italian name! The only one thing better than a dolce vita is a vita liberata and freedom is exactly what I’m seeking in my life right now. Freedom from the 9-5 (or for me that’s the 6:45-3:30); freedom to do what makes me feel alive. As if applying this self-tanner would help me achieve that! But it did help me get to Sephora VIB status (Very Important Buyer, which means you’ve spent a lot of money at Sephora!).
I’ve only tried it on my arms so far just to make sure I didn’t turn into an oompa loompa (I wear long sleeves to work). What’s interesting about this self-tanner is you’re not supposed to apply lotion before putting it on. It came with a mitt and it was pretty easy to apply until the mitt got all gunked up after one arm. Next time I might try using my hands and then wash them right away! It actually looks better after my first shower after application. Water accidentally streaked down my arm when I was applying it and it left a little white trickle mark, but now it is gone and it’s all evened out! It has NO scent and it’s not orange! We’ll see if it actually lasts the 2-3 weeks it says on the box.
Here’s to a vita liberata. Does it come with a beach?
To be continued…
La Dolce Vita through from California to Italy. I’m Kelly, an American girl with Italian taste in food & wine. I blog about learning Italian, food & wine pairings, how to find authentic Italian ingredients in the US, and seasonal recipes from scratch.