Monday, February 12, 2007


Literally, not metaphorically.

Taking a shower this morning, I noticed that my pinko-yellow-grey-purple-green skin is noticably pale these days, pale as in hasn't seen the sun in months, pale as in I nearly blend with the snow cover.

A while back, one of my writing class students decided to ask about the effects of tanning booths on users. She found a list of deleterious effects, but then decided that she'd still be going to the tanning salon. I asked her what she was missing, because if she still wanted to go, she must be finding something in the experience that felt good, beneficial, or positive. She had trouble articulating that aspect, as you might guess. It's easier to channel the authorities than to articulate the way warmth and light feel on bare skin.

I know logically that sunlight exposure shows a postive correlation with skin damage and cancer. But my body craves sunlight. I can think of little more pleasureable right now than feeling the warmth from within that I get when I've got the barest hint of a sunburn.

I learned last summer that several of my Peace Corps cohort have had skin cancer, possibly related to our service and to outdoorsy lifestyles. I certainly have had my share of serious sunburns all along my life. And I know it's dangerous. And it's been painful more than once.

Maybe it's partly that I feel better about my pinko-yellow-grey-purple-green skin when it's more tan. I do. But I don't think it's purely ego about my glamorous good looks. I think the embodied feeling of pleasure in the warmth of sunlight makes me feel good from skin through inside.

I've learned since moving north from the central midwest, that from February through May, the whole of the Northwoods goes a little nuts. We do okay through the beginning of winter, but after four months, we're ready for sunlight again and it shows.


  1. Anonymous10:12 AM

    My husband went to a tanning salon for a couple of visits recently, on the advice of a woman we know who came to Our State from Florida. She was miserable the first winter, diagnosed it as lack of light, and did a little tiny tanning to "get happy," as she said. My husband has been feeling miserable lately too, and a few minutes seems to have helped quite a, maybe go get a very small tan?

  2. I used to tan too "back in the day" but am too scared to go anymore. I was diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder, which is why I think I was really drawn to the tanning beds. I have a phototherapy light now but it just doesn't feel the same as the warmth soaking into your bones lying in that glowing box.

  3. Ooo, the blissful feeling of soaking up the sun's rays... I'm not a sun worshipper in the tanning sense; I have exceedingly fair skin and burn to the glowing shade of a coke can in minutes without SPF 4000. I do need sunlight, though. It makes me a much happier person to have just a few minutes every day with Mr. Sun. Gray cloudy days are my nemesis.

    I've never been to a tanning bed, although people have recommended it to lift my low winter spirits. I'm sure skin cancer is in my future regardless of my efforts at this point (too many bad burns + freckly fair skin + family history) but I guess I'd rather get it the old-fashioned way.

  4. You know you are welcome for a dose of sunshine. Just book a flight and let me know when to fetch you from the airport.

    I know what you mean about the feelings that sun's warmth can evoke. Yesterday we were running errands with the car and we had the top down. Nick was driving and I had the pleasure of closing my eyes, looking up and feeling the sun on my face.

    Miss you. I tried to update my blog but I hit the wrong button and the computer ate my entry. I'm too tired and stressed to try to post again.


  5. I've never tried a tanning bed. I really like the sun, but I'd feel self-conscious at a tanning salon. (Yeah, I've been to nude beaches, no problem, but a tanning salon... I think I'm getting to be an old fuddy duddy.)

    Maybe I should look into getting a light box? Hmmm.

    Christine, inc >>>one email<<<
    I miss you, too. Pass my best to the shinies, please :) I'm tempted by your offer. VERY tempted.