The Beauty Backlash

Why I Don't Fake Tan

Apparently Scotland gets roughly 250 days of rain per year and the average temperature in Winter is 4°C, give or take. This is great news for deer and squirrels, but really isn’t the ideal environment for me to get a decent tan. Or any kind of tan, for that matter. So it’s safe to say that, except for excessive sun worshipping on our annual holidays, we’re a pasty nation. Though at least we’re in it together.

Ever wondered why Scotland’s biggest exports are whiskey and wool? Probably not, let’s be honest, you’re probably too busy checking out the latest nails of the day, but they are and that’s because we’re constantly trying to keep warm. If the wool blankets aren’t working, a wee nip will sort you out! Usually, this isn’t so much of an issue, we’re all so covered up in huuuge jumpers you can barely see our skin anyway, but this weekend I had a really fancy 21st birthday party to go to and my ivory dress turned out to be worryingly close to my skin colour. Probably should have seen that one coming, but I was living in denial. What you gonna do?

Anyway, whilst considering fake tanning for this party, I was forced to remember all the previous disasters that have stemmed from me trying to be less pale. It was not a pretty flashback, let me tell you, but it has made me realise that I’m too unlucky/accident prone to ever be a master of the artificial tan. (Why is this column steadily turning in to a catalogue of my bad life choices..?!)


Now, don’t get me wrong, I initially expected to embrace fake tan; I was so looking forward to the end of my days as a whiter shade of pale! Sadly, it just wasn’t that easy. My first attempt involved a bizarre foam which stank and left me looking more like I had  decided to go as a freisian cow for Halloween than the bronzed goddess I was aiming for. It took hours and the only thing I gained was a headache. Nevertheless, I persevered. For my cousin’s wedding I got a spray tan, thinking that surely if the woman was making a living from tanning people, she had to be good at it (this theory constantly fails me). But no, I wound up looking, and feeling, like a bemused alien who’d crash landed in to a mud pit. Which was, frankly, not ideal. Streak is not chic.

So, aside from the fact I seem fundamentally unable to master what my friends assure me is a simple treatment, I began to wonder why it was so important to me to darken my skin that i’d continue after such terrible results. Thousands of women, be them young or old, students or professionals, mothers or singletons; daily fake tan themselves in order to feel and look better. It is make up for the body. Many of us feel like we’re putting on a mask or facade with make-up, that it somehow makes us ready to face the day, and I can see how this transfers. Is fake tan the modern woman’s body armour? As much as it sometimes gets a bad press when things don’t go exactly to plan, tanning is a huge industry, a major branch of the body modification tree and it certainly doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon.

But, until a miraculous product is invented which doesn’t involve someone shooting a gun of paint at my skin or rubbing a scratchy cloth over myself, I think I’ll stick with my English rose complexion, and if all else fails I can always revert to face paint and spend my days as a smurf. No one fake tans a smurf.

All images via Shutterstock

  • Melissa L Stewart

    This article sends a disgusting message to young women everywhere. Why should you have to alter your body’s color to be happy with yourself and to conform to what other people believe you should look like? Did you know that if you’ve had one or more blistering sunburn in a year before the age of 18 it increases your risk for melanoma by 75%? That doesn’t include family history, tanning history, how many moles you have, and your genetic predisposition. I really loved HelloGiggles but this is the final straw. There is NO such thing has a ‘healthy’ tan, and you shouldn’t promote it even if it’s a spray tan. Love the skin you’re in!

    • Gabby Pecora

      Okay I don’t really think you read the article, or the headline..

      Quoting the LAST PARAGRAPGH
      “I think I’ll stick with my English rose complexion, and if all else fails I can always revert to face paint and spend my days as a smurf.”

      She’s talking about not forcing your body to undergo change and embracing the skin you have. So, please before you already jump to a very rude and ignorant response to only preach your message/link, go ahead and absorb the “message” in the article.

      Love & Peace

      • Gabby Pecora

        I meant paragraph and I also meant no harm or offense because I too, love Hello Giggles. I just wanted to clear it up lol

    • Coral Fleming

      Hi, thanks for commenting! I’m really sorry if you took offence from this, i didn’t intend to say you have to alter your skin colour to be happy, as Gabby already said, that is the opposite of what this whole article is about.
      It’s just supposed to be a light hearted look at something a lot of people i know do, but again, i’m sorry if you were upset.

      • Melissa L Stewart

        I’m sorry for overreacting. My dad passed away last year at the age of 57 from stage 4 melanoma and it’s a touchy subject. I did read the whole article, but I misunderstood the true intent and I came back to read it over again and realized I was quick to fire off and misjudge your article. I’m sorry for that! No offense taken :) I shouldn’t have jumped the gun on the commenting!! In all honesty, we need more people posting about sun safety, embracing natural beauty, and being okay with not conforming to what society thinks women (and men) should look like. Kudos to you, and again, I apologize!

        • Coral Fleming

          No worries, thanks so much for coming back and giving the piece another chance!
          I’m so sorry to hear about your dad, I can see why this rubbed you up the wrong way. Give me another chance next week and I promise to try and make you laugh instead x

    • Melissa Wiebe

      The article was meant to be tongue in cheek and clearly not to be taken seriously.

  • Melanie Moir

    I love looking like Casper’s pale cousin, rather than looking like I’ve just come back from the Isle of Tangerine. And cardigans are SUCH a good look, seriously, woe betide anyone who tries to take my cardigans and jumpers. More people should embrace the Scottish farmer look, best look ever. 😀

  • Jenn Messinger

    Hear hear! It was around the time I turned 30 something that I decided no more will I be faking the color of my skin. I’m just as proud of my pasty white freckled skin as anybody else with darker skin tones. Why are people constantly trying to change their body into something that their not?! I decided I love my snow white complexion, and for the people that have a problem with it, well that’s their problem, not mine. I’m proud to say I’m the fairest of them all!

  • Katrina ‘Catfish’ King

    I don’t see anything in this article that encourages people to go out and tan. In fact, I’d say it’s quite the opposite! I’m from Wales and I never fake tan. I have dabbled in tinted moisturisers but I can never be bothered to keep it up. Luckily, I do have some Mediterranean blood so I’m not as pale as my Celtic counterparts. I think fake tan in winter is just ridiculous, though. It’s so obvious that you’ve got it from a bottle. Plus, I would never bare much skin in winter – it’s way too cold for that! I think Smurf is definitely the way to go :)

    • Coral Fleming

      You lucky wee thing! Mediterranean skin is a much better base than a smurf, I agree.
      Thanks for reading! x

  • Aoife Kyle Munro

    I love this article! I’m a fellow Scot and while it took me a while to be comfortable in my decidedly pasty, freckle covered skin, I’ve never really considered fake tanning. I love being pale, and don’t much like the outcome of fake tan (streaks definitely come to mind!) but to each their own, and I like the idea that it might be something of armour for some women.

    Good read!

    • Coral Fleming

      Thanks so much! I definitely have noticed a lot more of my friends in Glasgow do it than back home as well!
      Here’s to being pasty together:)

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