Melanin. It's such a bitch.
I understand the appeal of sun-kissed tans and healthier complexions. But where I come from, halfway across the world, white is beautiful. The desire to maintain or achieve pale, nearly translucent skin has women carrying parasols, applying "whitening" lotions, and wearing long sleeves in the humid, scorching Tokyo summer.
I assume the paleness used to connote status and inclusion into a higher socio-economic class that didn't have to toil in rice paddies. The sheer irony is that I inherited my relatively pale skin tone from my father who grew up in the countryside, not my city-born-and-raised mother. And while my looks might not have my parents' friends complimenting me, they will always mention how "incredibly pale" I am.
Or, perhaps more accurately, how pale I used to be. I was hoping a New England winter cold enough to necessitate biking to school in a down jacket would blast away the color from my skin. Maybe enough hours in the library would wash away the embarrassing tan lines. Maybe that computer monitor tan would counteract the real brownish tinge my skin acquired last summer.
It was all in vain. Yesterday, peeling off my leggings after my third final exam and stepping into shorts for about the third time this year, I realized that my legs are still ridiculously tri-toned. I don't mind the clear line of my shorts tan; that can be worn as a cyclist's badge of pride. It's my propensity to wear knee high socks that's resulted in the ultimately embarrassing: my calves are significantly paler than my thighs.
My legs looking like candy corn, I pedaled home in knee highs, then, despite the bruises scattered over my unshaven legs [I've been busy, okay?], I bit the bullet and pulled on some shorter socks. If I want my legs to look somewhat normal again, my calves are going to have to get some sun. Nevermind the inevitable cycling socks tan; we'll cross that bridge when we get there.
Self-conscious about my multi-colored legs, I was pedaling furiously through Allston and Brighton hoping that the blur of motion will somehow blend all the colors together. I came home, my calves no less stunningly white, smears of chain lube accentuating their lack of color even more.
Meanwhile my thighs, nose, and cheeks are suspiciously rosy red. Maybe I should look into getting a recumbent...