As I was browsing beauty websites this morning, I found a post on Daily Beauty Reporter that caught my attention. Allure reported that at the Michael Kors fashion show yesterday, he went with a beachy theme for his models. In addition to beachy hair, Kors wanted the models to have plenty of pink blush added to their bronzer, in order to make them look sunburned. Makeup artist Dick Page said of the makeup he applied, “The skin is alive and vibrant, like the girls have a flushed, windburned look, or like they’ve spent a day at the beach and got a sunburn.” Which got me thinking: why are a makeup artist and a fashion designer, who are both supposedly experts in beauty, promoting skin damage through sunburn?
Maybe I only think this way because I was raised by a pale-skinned Irish mother who routinely slathered us in sunscreen at the beach and chastised us for laying in the sun. “Are you wearing sunscreen? Do you want me to bring you a hat?” are questions that my mother will routinely ask out a window, watching my family lie by the pool. Both my mother and grandfather have had skin cancer, so the lectures on the dangers of the sun are endless. In addition, my mother recently earned her Ed.D and wrote her dissertation on skin cancer. Along for the ride, I was shocked to see the UV camera photos that my mother took of her nursing students. Seemingly pretty girls in one photo looked like horribly scarred individuals in the UV filtered photo. When my mother took my photo and showed me all the sun damage I had acquired already, it was enough to convince me to stay out of the sun forever.
Despite the cast of Jersey Shore going tanning and talking endlessly about achieving a darker tan (in the first episode of Jersey Shore Season 2, Snooki claims that John McCain wouldn’t have put a tax on tanning because he’s “pale and would probably want to be tan,” oblivious of the fact that McCain had skin cancer), the sun protection trend seems to have really caught on. Pale celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Scarlett Johansson, and Anne Hathaway have proved that they don’t need tans to be beautiful, and more people have switched from baking out in the sun to using sunless tanner. Naturally fair-skinned friends of mine who used to go tanning to boost their self-esteem are slowly but surely learning to love the skin they were born in. All of this awareness about skin cancer and sun damage makes Michael Kors’ espousing of sunburns seem horribly dated, not to mention irresponsible. Though some might see his show as a nice reprieve from the pale skin that traditionally dominates the runway, people should keep in mind that there is no such thing as a “healthy” tan, and that the connotation is another dangerous reason that people seek tans in the first place. I’m just excited for the day that skin color truly doesn’t make a person pretty or ugly.