...with apologies to Good Charlotte there.
The approach of summer means that many are beginning to consider their pale and pasty pins and whether or not to splash out on a spray tan for the season, as well as all of the other trappings that summer beauty entails: waxing, manicure, pedicure, hair conditioning...
But the truth is that not everybody enjoys this time of the year. Marian Keyes encapsulates the feeling beautifully in her novel A Woman In The Know:
"Summer may be here, but autumn is just around the corner, and for those of us who like to cover up, it can't come soon enough. As the poet so eloquently put it: "Autumn! Season of new boots and jackets!" (At least, how the poet would have so eloquently put it if the poet had been a woman.) I love autumn. It might be because my birthday is in September - poor criticized Virgo! - and I associate it with presents, cake, and lots of attention, but the shameful truth is that I'm not really a summer person. Yes, I know this won't go down well, and that saying you don't like summer is like saying you don't like dolphins or teddy bears or Crunchies. My issue (I'm not sure I like that word) with summer is that everything's too bright, hot, and exposed. My clothes are all wrong, and summer brings me into a head-on collision with my lumpy upper arms. I'm tormented by them. Should I reveal them looking like sausage-skins stuffed with cauliflower florets, and endure the sniggers of others, or keep them under wraps and swelter? If I elect to swelter, I have to deal with skinny smooth-armed types who've never known a day's lumpiness in their lives, goading me: "Why are you wearing your cardie?" "You look so hot!" "Look at her everyone, she's melting!" "Stupid woman." While I'll have to insist, even though my face is the color of a raw steak and sweat is running down my back, that I'm fine, a little chilly even."
Dressing for summer is another difficulty; exposed legs means it's tricky enough to keep up the battle against unwanted hair, let alone also have the maintenance of a fake tan to contend with. For me, fake tan is out for this reason, and sun beds are out on the grounds of health (even stars of TV show The Only Way Is Essex recently boycotted sunbeds in support of Cancer Research's R UV UGLY? campaign). Cost is also a factor in both. A good compromise that I've found so far is the tan accelerator (I reviewed Piz Buin's recently): no more high-maintenance than normal sunscreen, not that much more expensive, and certainly safer than sunbeds, as they often provide sun protection factors too. Self-tanning moisturisers, such as those made by Jergens, Dove or Johnsons, are another excellent alternative.
Beyond that, if I want a tan, I prefer to go the 'natural' route: exposing myself to sun slowly, with plenty of sunscreen and time in the shade, to build up a gradual colour. It's free, it's the way God made it, it contains vitamin D, and can improve skin complaints. But ultimately no tan is 'good' for you and it will age you prematurely - which means it's good that I'm not that bothered about having a tan overall. I have always been pale, and my parents sometimes wonder if it's a self-fulfilling prophecy given that my first name, Bianca, has proved to be ludicrously accurate over the years. It's as if my paleness is now part of who I am - and in the face of Paris' perma-tanned trophy wives and shows like Jersey Shore, it's almost a distinguishing feature too. I doubt I would feel like 'me' with a tan - I've never had any sort of tan in my life beyond the very light sort that fades quickly. So I guess I'll carry on waiting for winter and embracing my paleness - and hoping others don't feel insecure for doing the same thing.