Fiona McCade: It’s really not worth dying to be tanned
MY STORY starts around 600 BCE, when my distant ancestors were running around in Scotland and Ireland, breeding like rabbits.
Ever since then, my people have continued to produce a line of very light-skinned descendants.
Some of us are fair-haired, some of us are dark; almost all of us are tall, with blue or green eyes; but we all have one thing in common – the whiter-than-white epidermis of the Celts.
As a typical Celt, you’d think I’d accept my destiny and embrace my heritage, but no. Like a typical Celt, I fight it. Over the years, like so many pale-but-not-quite-interesting-enough north-western Europeans, I’ve tried making myself look different, more exotic, and – most crucially, as it turns out – browner.
I’ve always wished I had the sort of skin that would tan. Unfortunately, mine only turns a slightly golden colour if I burn the heck out of it. This, on occasion, I have done. But over the last decade or so, being older and wiser, I’ve sighed deeply and tried to be sensible by slapping on the Factor 30. I had no idea that this was too little and too late.
A couple of years ago, after a nice, long holiday in sunny France, I noticed a tiny little…thing… near the tip of my nose. “It” wasn’t a spot; more like a minute crater. Nobody could see it but me.
However, the skin covering the crater was so thin, it kept on bleeding if I so much as rubbed my face, so a pattern of bleed, then scab; bleed, then scab, set in. It never healed properly. So, after a couple of months, I went to a dermatologist.
This so-called expert – sorry guys, but he was male – essentially told me to put up and shut up. Even when I pointed out that no woman in her prime wants a permanent scab right in the middle of her face, he dismissed me. So I put up. For a while. Thank God I didn’t shut up, though.
Finally, utterly fed up, I demanded a second opinion. The diagnosis was skin cancer. “It” had to come off – immediately.
After the operation, I thought I’d be left with a small scar, but it hasn’t turned out quite like that. As far as I’m concerned, half my nose has gone.
Again, people say: “Really? I hadn’t noticed”, but I know they’re just being polite. When the bandages came off, I cried for three nights and my injured vanity means I’m still not coping with mirrors very well.
Having said that, now the shock is dissipating, I’m seeing more sense. After all, I’ve escaped a worse fate than just losing a bit of cartilage. The fact that my face looks a bit different is hardly the end of the world. In fact, I’ve had a sort of impromptu nose job. For the first time in my life, the tip of my nose looks tilted. It’s weird, but in certain (very low) lights, I can convince myself that it’s ever so slightly Lana Del Rey.
Also, I’ve been told that I must never, ever expose my nose to sunshine again.
I’m under strict instructions to use at least Factor 50 on my face for the rest of my life – all day, every day – and hide myself under big hats whenever anything round and yellow appears in the sky.
But do you realise what this means? It means I’ll never get another wrinkle again, as long as I live! This wasn’t a misfortune, it was practically the gift of eternal youth! (Well, OK then, eternal middle-age!)
But please, all you fair-skinned Celtic-types out there, although I’m trying to be positive, let my story be a warning to you.
You can’t escape your genetic make-up, so try using bronzing make-up instead. Or, better still, learn to love being the colour of a moonlit mushroom.
This summer, don’t throw yourselves under every ray of sun you see, or into tanning booths, in a desperate attempt to give yourselves a touch of living colour – take it from me: it’s not worth it. So, you’re pale; live with it.
It’s better than dying to be brown.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North east