they pay to kiss your feet

since there's no one else around, we let our hair grow long and forget all we used to know. then our skin gets thicker from living out in the snow.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

On not being tan

Today, I am jealous of a construction worker — well, actually two of them. This morning, as I was getting ready for work, I looked at myself in the mirror and realized just how pale I am. My sister is a bronzed goddess and my brother looks fine without a tan, but can get one easily. I, on the other hand, have been sitting outside in 95° heat to try and get a little hint of color on my pasty self — to no avail. I get color alright, but it’s red and pinkish and fades after a day. I never turn brown or even khaki. I stay pale and milky all summer. I do get more freckles though, which, I tell myself, make certain parts of my face appear tan.

Continuing to pick myself apart, I got dressed and pictured how much better my legs and arms would look with some sun on them but claimed defeat and left for work. I couldn’t stop thinking about it though. You could say it was a bit obsessive. And then at a stop light, I saw two female construction workers who appeared to be about my age. There they stood, holding their orange and black “slow” signs, chatting away — probably about how easy it is to get tan when you’re a construction worker, I imagined. And I couldn’t stop watching them. Yes they were wearing jeans, but their arms were tan and their necks and their faces and their hair even had highlights from the sun. I’m sure some of the brown color on their skin could have been from the dirt at the construction site, but I’m most certain that most, if not all of it, was from the sun. It was natural. They don’t have to spend money on sunless tanners to try to achieve a “natural” look, which never really works anyway. They don’t have to plan out how they will get some sun, they probably don’t even have to spend any of their weekends in the sweltering humidity to catch a couple of rays. I guess I don’t have to do it either, but I do. If only I could get paid to stand there, talk and get tan.

I’m really not this shallow. I know that being a construction worker is hard, manual labor and that it’s not all about being tan and that you can get skin cancer and wrinkles and that tan skin looks leathery and prematurely old and sometimes even a dark natural tan can look fake. But why do I want it so badly?


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