Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I'm tanned. Unnaturally tanned. FAKE tanned.

And frankly? I look awesome.

This is not awesome. I do not look like this.
It took a while for me to come around to embracing the concept. I am firmly of the belief that real tans are "skin cells in trauma" (thank you Australian Cancer Council)  and it seems a bit silly to me to walk around all fakely-brown, perpetuating and supporting the brown-as-a-fashion-statement movement. But I like the way I look when I'm tanned. It suits my face, it suits my hair, it makes me look toned and thinner. Never mind that my clothes all look great against tanned skin.

However, I want my daughters to love themselves the way they are, without artifice. I work hard at it. I praise my own body so they learn it's ok to love theirs. I emphasize "clean and neat" over pretty when they are getting dressed. But I wear makeup regularly, and is a fake tan much different? I'm a walking brown contradiction.

Crunch time came when we had a fancy ball coming up for Mr Accident's work. He loves to take me out when we are both glammed up, so we decided I should have a tan to polish the look.

Now, I am something of a tanning virgin. I have had one fake tan before but it was a good ten years ago, pre kids, pre marriage, but not pre-Mr A. He remembered the tan lines and he liked it. He was looking forward to his wife coming home brown. But probably not as brown as I was when I strolled back in through the door....

It is impossible to maintain much dignity in a fake tan studio. The tanner asks you to hold poses like you're stopping two lanes of traffic, pretending you have bear claws, then tickling the sky. You're sprayed with a concoction named after a tropical cocktail, then fanned with what appear to be turbines stolen from an unsuspecting jet.

And even though you have asked for "just a touch of colour" you will walk back out that door as brown as an acorn. I also walked out sans undergarments, at the tanner's suggestion, which meant I felt like a thorough freak. I scuttled back to the car through the back streets and alleys, clutching my purse to my chest, dark enough to blend into the shadows. But I'm sure that's a common enough sight around that shop! (Actually, on a second perusal of the photo above, I was about that brown. And wearing about that many undergarments....)

Once I was home I disregarded the tanner's eight-hours-until-showers rule and jumped straight in and scrubbed. Luckily, the acorn brown faded to a golden glow, and I was fit to be seen in public again.

Alas my dignity was in for yet another blow. As I stepped from the shower and leant over to dry myself, Mr A asked what the strange white lines on my bum were. Turns out the tan lines he was looking for had multiplied - last time I had a tan, my butt was... ahem... just ever so slightly higher. This time, the new creases back there had left white gaps on my legs. I had pale butt whiskers! I don't think I've laughed so hard in weeks. Perhaps the tanner should add "bowing" to her list of tan poses.

So, my friends, do you tan?


  1. I grew up in Miami, surrounded by lots of Cubans and Puerto Ricans whose bums are 30 shades darker than my arms could ever be. My skin just does not absorb sun--and I hate it. My legs are so white I don't even own a pair of shorts (but don't suggest that wearing shorts will make them tan, because they won't). I am scared to spray tan because I don't want to look like an Oompa Loompa--why don't they make tanning formulas to give just a bit of sunkissed glow??
    As we head towards Australian summer, I need to do something so I don't blind people at the beach. A questioin for you--would you do it again?

    1. Would I do it again? Ab-so-lutely. But probably not often, it's expensive for a vanity thing!
      If you want just a bit of a glow, check out a tanning-moisturizer. I have the Dove one, fittingly entitled summer glow... I don't know if it's the best, but it seems to go ok!

  2. I don't tan. I turn into a lobster. It's too bad because a little color does help. I've tried to embrace the white pastiness of my skin, although I have to get outside because I've had a vitamin D deficiency since living further north (grew up in the American south).

    1. I get *looks* from other mums when I let my kids play without sunscreen in winter so they can grab some vit D. It's so important! I used to tan as a kid, but now I lobster up too. Bottle tan works so much better :)

  3. I don't tan. I've given up on ever being brown, as I am allergic to darn near every perfume, lotion, soap, etc. So, I would be scared to death I'd walk away with a golden glow and a body solid with hives...

    However, brown fat is ALWAYS more attractive than white, so I guess I'm still sad about not being brown.

    Because tanning is clearly easier than toning exercises, no?

  4. Ten times easier, maybe even eleven! And that, my friend, is why I'm happy to be brown :)

    A life allergic would be a real challenge. How do you manage? Natural cleaners and soaps?

  5. I couldn't get that would cost me a fortune as I have more body to spray than the average would be like paying for two or three spray tans....and I would have more white marks than you could spray tan at.................I think it is lovely though, and being a terrible sun bed person when I was in my twenties...I think more healthy...if I was younger, I would go for it, definitely...

  6. While I like the colour I end up after I burn, its still lighter then my husbands untanned stomach, and I don't think they do fake tan that light. But then, he tans if he thinks about sunlight, I burn in the time it takes to hang laundry.

    Also, I don't want butt-whisker-tan-lines!!

  7. Ha ha haaaa! Oh my soul I don't even want to picture the bum :-D
    I do tan, ever so lightly. When by the sea or playing at home, we get out of the sun at least between 11 and 3. I dont' believe in too high SPF though, too much chemistry there.
    And since the good people at the La Mer counter at Dubai airport convinced me not to buy the classic cream (when learning we where on our way to Aussie), but rather buy the sun screen lotion (SPF 15/18, had both), I invest yearly in one tube. Use just a tiny bit and I have never ever burnt. Even use it on the boys faces, and a cheaper brand at SPF 15 on the bodies.

  8. Do I tan? No. Shane likes to joke that I'm so white that I glow in the dark. He's such a funny man.
    Would I tan? No. I fear I'd blind the poor tanner.

  9. Oh honey, you crack me up. My darling husband likes me to get the odd spray tan and look the part for fancy balls and dining in nights (I'm certain that you have seen me brown)
    The last time though I felt browner then normal (or was it just that I had the look of walking off the beach in the Bahamas and he looked like he had been sunbaking in the Artic)
    Maybe it could also be that my body has not seen any UV light for the past 8 months. I so wish this long hot summer would hurry up and arrive.

  10. The top half of me tans... the bottom half requires chemical assistance of the wash off variety. Otherwise I look like a walking reverse top deck chocolate

    Having eczema means the aha's in most tanning products make me break out.

    The sun sense bronzer and suncream in one is a god send... found it in the chemist

  11. My growing up years were blighted by continual maternal cries of
    " Come out of the sun, you're a fair skinned child!, or "Cover up and put on a hat." All this years before the Slip, Slap, Slop campaign. Consequently I tried everything once away from Mother's eagle eye. It was an endless round of burn, blister and peel which was not an attractive look. Had quite a lot of success with lotions containing PABA, but then it was taken off the market, so I reverted to white and as I never came back to Australia to live after my supposed two years travel, I feel right at home now with Scottish-blue legs and fish-belly white rest of me. The Johnsons sun-kissed slow changing lotion worked well enough if I needed a touch of colour for high days and holidays, but was never brave enough for a spray tan. Did you ever see the episode in 'Friends' when Ross went into a spray tanning booth and kept mistiming his turns, ending up mahogany in front and white behind? It's enough to put you off unmanned booths for life. Thanks for sharing you experience - I love the idea of bum whiskers.

    1. Yes, yes! I was actually thinking of that episode while I was getting sprayed.

      "high days and holidays" - I love that saying, it's an old family favourite but I'd forgotten it. Thanks for the reminder.

  12. Oh, I couldn't help giggle at this. Last time I got a spray tan (a couple of years ago), even though I did the "tickle the sky" move, I had similar white stripes... under my boobs. So embarassing!

  13. Clearly I am the only male to write on this thread. Still. Ok I've used the fake tan a couple of times. I'm a bit on the pale side. There was a trip to Fiji prior to kids where I stopped to wonder whether I could ditch the shirt next to the pool. Beloved, who doesn't need it, had some stuff and I applied just enough to have a sort of Polaroid effect on the worst of the glare...