Was it just me that was SUPER weird about fake tan as a teenager?
“What, me? No. NO I haven’t fake tanned. This is just the colour that I am. I’m really lucky I have such olive skin. Ahaha why would I fake tan? That’s so, like, tragic.”
Christ knows why, since all I wanted to be was tanned, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it; the fear of being judged for wanting to look good was colossal, not helped by the fact that the potential to fuck up was massive when you had no money for anything that cost more than £1.99 and no clue how to apply the damn stuff anyway.
For years I thought to myself that fake tanning was something that I just couldn’t do. I didn’t want to be fake, to be seen to give a shit, to be laughed at, to stain my bed sheets, to get it wrong. I liked the idea of being a natural beauty (even though I didn’t think I was beautiful anyway so that was all a bit daft) and associated fake tan with the women in The Only Way Is Essex, a show that I watched in secret. Trying to fit in and be cool was exhausting. With hindsight the fact that I was smearing a pencil over my eyelids every morning, gloss over my lips and god knows how much bronzer on my cheeks every day but was still too embarrassed to rub a little lotion on the rest of my body has got to be the stupidest damned thing.
I attached a stigma to fake tan which meant I was either pasty as hell and too embarrassed to get my legs out OR risking third degree sunburn during the summer months and my holidays in the hope that I could absorb enough colour to be seen as beautiful. I longed to wear the stuff, to top it up, to keep the summer going on forever but I worried what people would think about me and, since I would never have admitted to wearing it even if I did, I worried about having to lie to my friends. I worried more that I would lie but then they would find me out and then expose me as a fake when they saw my orange ankles/elbows/hands.
But this year, I realised something: my tan, or lack thereof is so bloody irrelevant. I went to the pub with a friend the other day who had amazing colour. I told her that she looked so healthy, she said thanks. That was it. Was it real? Had she faked it? Did it matter…? Since I still don’t know the answer to the first two, I’d say the third one answers itself.
So when I was sent a bottle of St Moriz Fake Tan to try, I jumped right in. I was going to a party on Saturday night and I wanted to get my legs out. There was no time to get brown naturally, not least of all because it was raining, so I did what I thought I would never do: I faked it.
I expected to go orange. I expected to be laughed at. I expected judgement and mockery. I really need to get a grip and stop worse-case-scenario-ing everything. Here’s what actually happened:
I got some fake tan. I put it on the mitt. I used the mitt to rub it in. I went brown. Three hours later I had a shower. I got ready for the party. Everyone told me how nice I looked. I went to bed. It didn’t stain the sheets. I got on with my hangover, a little bit browner than I had been 24 hours earlier. Maybe I got lucky, maybe St Moriz is just a really good brand. Or maybe, maybe, I have spent the last twenty years making mountains out of mole hills. I think it might be a combination of the two things.
I’m not the best person to give you a fake-tan review, as I quite clearly don’t use the stuff much BUT what I can say is that this shit was great. It didn’t streak, it didn’t smell, it dried in about two minutes and it looks really natural. We’re about three days into it and it still looks great, it has totally converted me. I plan on doing it at least once a week for the rest of my life. Or the rest of the summer at least.
I don’t know why I was so ashamed of fake tan before, why I was so utterly panicked by it. I suppose it probably has a lot to do with the fact that most of my teen years were spent trying so damn hard to not give a shit, or to not be seen as giving one anyway. But I realise now that there is absolutely no shame in giving a shit. Applying fake tan does not all of a sudden make you shallow and self obsessed, it just makes you a bit browner. And if you’re anything like me, a bit more confident.
Fake it ’till you make it. That’s what they say. I have done that, fairy successfully with every other area of my life for the last ten years and I am now going to apply it to this too. So until I can afford to literally spend my life flying between St Tropez and Barbados and getting so brown that I resemble an old handbag, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.