• Thu, Jun 26 - 1:25 pm ET

20 Annoying Things You’ll Only Understand If You’re Pale

I am a very pale person. So pale, in fact, that when I was at my palest in the twelfth grade, I actually used that ridiculous pure white face makeup from Hot Topic as my “translucent powder” because no other shade worked. While I have embraced the paleness as something I like about myself, there really is no other worse time for being of the ultra-fair folk than in the hot, bright summer. Therefore, I present to you all the annoying pale peopel problems I have been whining about nonstop lately.

1. Forgetting your sunscreen ruins your day.

Going to an outdoor concert? Good luck.

2. Your friends putting their arms next to yours to see how much darker they are.

And the ones who typically consider themselves pale get all triumphant when they realize you’re lighter than they are.

3. When you don’t wear blush and everyone’s like, “Are you okay?”

I’m fine. I’m just not wearing makeup, but thanks for pointing out how sick I naturally look!

4. Nobody believing your background’s anything but Scandinavian.

As I’ve mentioned numerous times, in part because I am a little defensive of it, my dad is from Peru. He’s a lot darker than I am, so people who assume all Latina or mixed race folks look the same regularly think I’m lying when I mention that I am anything besides “Mayflower white” on my mom’s side. Wah-wahhh.

5. …And therefore people think you must be adopted.

20 Annoying Things You Only Understand If You're Pale

This is how adoption works.

Due to #4, I have gotten the question, “What’s it like to be adopted?” more times than I can count.

6. “You’re from Florida?” (or any other typically sunny place)

Yes, because pale people are incapable of being born there. It’s just like Children Of Men, except only with kids whose MAC concealer shade is NC15.

7. Being in the sun for five minutes before your nose gets red.

Look how much fun I’m having on the beach! Oh wait, now I’m Rudolph.

8. Oh, and did I mention the peeling?

Silly gosling, you can’t have your sunburn without some added leprosy-like symptoms!

9. Watching freckles appear before your very eyes.

You thought you applied enough sunscreen? Haha, that’s so funny because BAM–750 freckles are on your chest now. I actually love freckles so I think this is cool, but I know lots of pale gingers who avoid them.

10. Experimenting (badly) with sunless tanner as a kid.

Staining stuff, getting blotchy because you didn’t know how to exfoliate, forgetting to put it past your ankles then wearing flip flops…it’s all been done, and it’s all been embarrassing.

11. “Can you even be in the sun?”

Yes. I’m pale, not Edward Cullen.

12. Wearing a wide-brim hat for its practicality, not its stylishness.

When it’s not a trend, most people don’t even care to know what constitutes a wide-brim hat. But you–you know. Because you know if you don’t wear one, you will be tickle-me-pink within an hour.

13. The shock people show when they see your actual skin tone.

If you are a longtime tanning salon fan, people can get fairly (pun intended) startled when you reveal how pale you really are.

14. “Wait, but if you’re Middle Eastern, shouldn’t you be used to the sun?”

Proof that anthropological studies in our school systems blow.

15. The backhanded compliment, “Well, at least you’ll look younger eventually, right?”

This is a little backhanded to both pale people and tan people, as though us pale folks look pitiful right now whereas the tanner ones will look terrible later. Silly.

16. Never being able to use bronzer.

I enjoy light shades of bronzer sometimes, but for the most part, there are very few bronzers I can wear without looking like Mitt Romney when he tried to get the Latino vote.

17. Feeling like your legs are practically reflective when you expose them.

The light–THE LIGHT.

18. Wearing long-sleeves everywhere, because sometimes you’re too lazy for SPF.

Yes, even in the ocean and at the pool.

19. The word “pasty.”

Seriously, stahhhhp.

20. People being concerned at what SPF you’re using.

Yes, it’s high. Yes, I know humans need Vitamin D. I also know that if I don’t wear this, I will turn into a tomato version of Violent Beauregarde.

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  • Jenni

    #6 is my life story. It’s always said as if I’m lying. “Florida? Did you mean Alaska?”

    • Naomi

      Yup. I live in FL and people always assume I’m a tourist.

    • Embee

      I live in the sunniest place in the United States, outside of Death Valley. Everybody gets a good laugh out of that when I wear shorts.

  • Alana Vincenza

    I always wished I could be a little freckled. Just a sprinkling. And sadly, I’m guilty of #2 as I use my friends as a marker of how my tan is improving. I need to change my ways.

  • Charmless

    Other things that stick out more on pale skin:

    zits
    shaving bumps
    bug bites
    undereye circles
    bruises
    stubble (fortunately my body hair is blonde)

    Basically any kind of skin imperfection is very prominent if you’re naturally ghostly.

    Also, that Rudolph gif reminded me that my nose also turns a radiant shade of red if I’m out in the cold for more than 25 seconds.

    • LynnKell

      STUPID UNDEREYE CIRCLES!!! My mom nagged me when I was like 18 that I never slept enough. I stared blankly at her and said: Haven’t you noticed I’d have this discoloration since 13??? (also, it was my winter break and I had been hibernating, the baby blue *circles* weren’t for partying)
      Also, any acne spot takes months to go away :(

  • Michelle

    i’m sooo pale. pale pale pale. i do freckle if i get some sun, but i don’t tan like i used to when i was a kid :/ and i’m part native, and no one believes it :p until they see pictures of my sister and one of my brothers, they’re quite dark. then me and the other brother are super pale! thanks genetics!

  • LynnKell

    Oh, the Scandinavian assumption. I’m from a little town in Mexico were seeing natural blue and green eyed blonds and redheads is pretty usual. Many of my pale friends going to study abroad are met with disbelief of their Mexican origins.

  • Foxtrot09

    I have always been fair skinned woman and can relate to most of those 20. You feel like you should warn everyone to wear sunglasses when I comes to going out in a dress. Even at 32, I still haven’t found the perfect (or close to) foundation. If you get a blemish, it turns fire red and takes an arsonal to cover the discoloration. Forget tanning, burn n peel every time. I used to be so ashamed of my pasty flesh. Then over time I come to embrace the pale. Think about it, I’m not going to worry about getting skin cancer from over exposure. A lot of people seem to forget or don’t realize the skins texture is greatly effected later in life. Don’t forget the extra wrinkles I won’t miss either. So I say embrace it, live it. If some one says something about how tall your white socks are, just smile and hand them your sunglasses.

  • Eileen

    See, and I’ve always gotten tan quickly and hated it and wished I were pale. (I accept it now but as a kid I wanted to be white like my mom)

  • Susan Meghan Munro

    I’m from the skin cancer capital of the world (QLD, Australia), and I’m strawberry blonde (read: ginge). I’m pink rather than white. Pink pride! :P

  • Teresa

    what bronzed do you sometimes use? Thx