Dressing My Best: My Skin

Dress: Hippie Fair; Shoes: Arezzo.

Oh, skin. The biggest organ of the human body. Something I’ve struggled with most of my adult life.

As a child, I took my smooth, blemish-free skin completely for granted. Sunscreen, what? I recall as a child spending hours swimming in the lake, sailing with my family, running around my neighborhood over summer holidays, skiing down a gleaming white mountain, without an ounce of sunscreen protecting my skin.

As I aged, and moved to Brazil with my parents, I began to realize the importance of a thick layer of sunscreen to protect me from burns, particularly after some doozies – a tiger print burn across my face from improper sunscreen application sticks out in my mind after a few hours under an umbrella on Copacabana in Rio. That was the last straw for me, and I became obsessed with being the whitest person in the world. Not because I think that über pale is sexier or more attractive than tanned skin, or anything like that. Rather I suddenly was struck with the realization that my skin is vital, and that I absolutely had to protect it at all costs.

And so, I did. One vacation to the beach, we went to a sea turtle protected site. Our tour guide had been teasing me non-stop about my constant reapplication of SPF50 sunscreen (every 30 minutes, from beneath an oversized umbrella, under my caftan-esque cover up). He came over to me, a saucy grin on his face.

Vem cá, Rebecca. Tem uma tartaruga canadense por aqui.

A CANADIAN sea turtle, I thought to myself. THIS I had to see.

As it happens, it wasn’t a Canadian sea turtle, rather an albino one. Laughing, the guide said: “Well, you’re the only other creature I’ve ever seen that is THAT white, so obviously you both must come from Canada!”

Meanwhile, I smoked. I’m not particularly proud of that – I also think that environmentalists who are smokers are extraordinarily hypocritical. Despite being sparkly-vampire pale, so pale I “glowed in the dark,” my skin was dull. I was, with every drag, sucking the life right out of my skin.

Then, in rapid succession, I stopped smoking, started eating healthy, running and drinking water with startling regularity (I was shocked when I realized how many times in a day a person can go pee). And slowly, I lost that etherial shade of pale from my skin, despite the constant reapplication of sunscreen to my skin, from hours spent running in the sun. I started looking younger than I ever did when I smoked. My skin started to glow.

At which point, I developed adult onset acne.

I’ve written about my struggles with acne in the past, particularly during Rabbit Write’s No Make-up Week last year. It is remarkable how much better you feel about yourself when your skin is acne-free (thank you, Accutane). Now, my skin is one of my favorite parts of me. I protect it with as much dedication as I once did. I dress to compliment my colour of the season (Sal over at Already Pretty wrote an awesome post of tips on how to dress when you’re one of the pale folk). This shade of turquoise with bits of green make me feel like a bronzed goddess (the same “dress” is the wrap skirt last seen here; other ways of styling the same “dress” in different ways are here and here). Leaving one shoulder bare, and covering up most of the rest of me (as well as styling the dress with a saucy slit up my left thigh) made the bits of skin that I did show even more tantalizing.

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