I am white. When I say that I am white, I don’t mean Caucasian (although yes, I am Caucasian.) Rather, I am referring to the actual color of my skin. Most Caucasians would be considered more “peachy-pink,” as my six-year-old refers to her skin color. But unlike my six-year-old, I am not “peachy-pink” I am white; ghost white (although I prefer the term “pastey”.)
Oddly enough, I don’t come from a family of “pastey” people. In fact, you’ll be surprised to know that in one of her prouder moments, my older sister was named first runner-up in the Miss Coppertone Suntan Contest. I remember as a child seeing her laying out in our backyard in the noon-day sun, in a bikini, slathered in baby oil. (Apparently skin cancer hadn’t been discovered yet.)
Lest you think I’m exaggerating my pastiness, here is proof:
1. One time in college, a guy I was dating told me I would have really nice legs if I would only get a tan.
2. Not long after Jason and I were married, we were out biking. I was wearing shorts and a tank-top. As car full of college students drove by, someone yelled, “Get a tan!!!”
3. In my mid-twenties I was a bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding. The photographer was constantly moving me around in disgust because he said that I ruining the pictures of the wedding party because my skin was glowing.
4. Another time, some of Jason’s relatives and I had a white leg contest. I won. First runner-up was Jason’s 90-year-old grandfather who died two weeks later.
Even if I try to get a tan, I can’t. In college, (in one of my dumber moments) I went to a tanning salon with a couple of my roommates. The workers told me that with the color of my skin it was recommended that I spend only 20 minutes in the bed. I spent 30. When I emerged from the tanning bed I was the exact same shade of albino that I was when I went in. I should have demanded my money back. That was my first and only time in a tanning bed.
My whole life I have been mocked for my skin color. BUT NO MORE PEOPLE!!!! Because apparently Asians consider pastey to be beautiful! The whiter the better! Here in Taiwan, many women walk around in the heat of the day carrying umbrellas. Not to keep dry in the rain, but to keep the sun from beating down on their ivory skin. Also, many women here wear foundation makeup that is four or five shades lighter than their actual skin color, to make them look paler.
And get this: a few days ago a woman actually said to me (to me, not my Miss Coppertone-winner sister), “You have such lovely skin coloring.” It took me a moment to realize that she was actually speaking to me. (To me, the pastey one!!!)
So, to all of you Americans who had mocked me and my pastey skin my whole life and have called me “Casper” and “Corpse” and “Albino,” I have three words for you: Neener! Neener! Neener!