Why do people purposely tan

I stand by it: I stay pale

After every vacation, fudder author Alexander was frustrated because everyone else was always tanned better than him. Today he remains pale on purpose. In our section "I stand by it" he explains why.

Photosynthesis and renewable energies are really nice - but for me, sunlight means one thing above all else: sunburn. For as long as I can remember, I get red, burning skin after just a few minutes in the sun; I hardly get tan at all.

At school I was disappointed every year when I compared the tan on my forearms with others after the vacation. I lost myself to friends who had spent two rainy weeks on the Baltic Sea while lying on Greek beaches.

Then, as now, I had to listen to remarks about my pale skin color - always in a reproachful tone. So I desperately tried to compensate for my genetic disadvantage by ambitiously sunbathing. Without success, of course.

"I'm not a reptile!"

Today is the end of sunbathing - I'm not a reptile! In the meantime, I only go out of the house with a sun protection factor of 30 or more in summer. I no longer expose myself to radiation and heat year after year just to end up with painful sunburn and a few freckles. After all, who says that tanned skin is better? It is not healthy to lie in the sun for hours. "But you need the sun to build up vitamin D!", Caring parents are now shouting. They are right, but a quarter of an hour a day is enough. More sun gives you wrinkled skin and worse, we actually know that. However, a beautiful complexion is often more important to us.

Incidentally, it is not necessarily a law of nature that tanned skin looks fresh and beautiful: a century and a half ago, men dreamed of pale goosenecks of noble women. Back then, the nobility avoided the sun while the underclass burned their skin in the fields. Today the rich and beautiful get tanned while playing tennis and sailing, we stunted in the office - and still want to be tan.

I don't like either one or the other extreme, because ideals of beauty are restrictive. I don't want to harm myself just to please others a little bit better. That's why my skin stays the way it is: pale. So if you're going to feel blinded by my calves anytime soon, that's your problem.

[Photo: Daniel Laufer]