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Verena von Pfetten Headshot

Tan Is The New Tacky

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I never thought I'd see the day when I'd be able to declare, "Tans are out!", mainly because I never thought I'd be the one declaring anything, but well, here goes nothing:

Tans Are Out!

Yes, you heard me. Tans have gone the way of shoulder pads, dark lip liner, and, more recently, Uggs.

Let's go with this Uggs thing. I think we can all agree that, yes, Uggs are out. But I think we can also all agree that that doesn't necessarily mean that people have stopped wearing them. There are still the die-hard, stalwart fans that will just not let go of their marshmallow shoes.

But Uggs, while comfortable, are utterly useless boots! (Just like tanning, but I'll get to that in a minute; Uggs rant coming up.) Seriously, don't tell me that you wear Uggs in the winter because they're so warm and cozy. Yes, they're warm and cozy, that is, until you wear them in anything over an inch of snow. And forget rain! What is it about Uggs that has girls wantonly traipsing through snow drifts as though suede and fleece are made of rubber? They're not waterproof! Even the smallest puddle leaves your (most likely) un-socked toes nestled in a cold and wet blanket of smelly sheepskin. And that's supposed to be cozy?!

(End Rant.)

Tans too, fake or not, are utterly useless. Gone are the arguments that a "base" tan stops you from burning, or that exposure to UVA/UVB rays is good for your health. Lies, all of them. So, then, what's the point of tanning?

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Well, the point is: there is no point! And, Lord knows, the fashion world is backing me up. Let's be honest, the tan-demic is really fashion's fault: In the last five years we've seen a very bohemian / hippie / California-girl style reign supreme, and naturally (no pun intended), what goes better with boho than a faux glow (or Uggs, for that matter)? But its fashion backlash time, and boho is over, ladies. Victorian is in.

Gone are hippie skirts and beach-y waves. It's a new era, and Anna Wintour says bobs away! (Sorry. I couldn't help myself.) It's all about pencil skirts and structured, even corseted waists, gothic gloves and Dita von Teese! Pale is back, and I for one, couldn't be happier. No need to desperately slather yourself with self-tanner cream (that stuff just reeks of cancer) or feverishly brush your cheeks with bronzer. As constructed as our '08 clothing is, it's time for skin to go au naturale.

And this isn't just a fashion trend. Shades of tan (or the lack thereof) are the new class dividers. Classism exists, people, and we've got the tan lines to prove it. Remember way back when Queen Victoria was still around, and tans were the ultimate faux pas? A tan was a dead call-out that instead of lounging on sedans and munching on puff pastries, you'd been out working the fields all day, you pauper, you. The manor-born even went so far as to douse themselves in white powder and paint little blue veins on their foreheads to prove just how translucent they were.

So yeah, while I'm not advocating a return to the feudal system, I think we have to open our eyes to the fact that tans have once again become a sign of a lower class. The 80's are over, and the well-oiled tan has been relegated to Staten Island, while conversely, nothing says Upper East Side lady-who-lunches more than a smooth, white, and almost plasticine forehead. Now, that said, I've got nothing against Staten Island, nor do I have a particular affinity for UESiders, but considering that people in the US spent over 14 billion dollars on cosmetic surgery in 2006, it would seem that the over-arching trend in beauty is to look good. And to look good is to look younger. And I don't think I have to be a doctor to tell you that tanning ain't doing nothing for your complexion.

Beyond a sign of wealth, paleness is held in high regard within circles of the hipsterdom's intellectual elite. Have you ever seen a tanned hipster? I thought not. (And if your answer was yes, I'll bet you a million dollars that they just got back from writing grants in Burma, or something, so there. Point: Me.)

Say it with me, people: Tans are Tacky!

It feels wonderful! I'm no longer mocked for my "pastiness", chided for my "lack of color". Instead, I'm complimented! Told my skin looks like a Vermeer! (Or was it veneer...) I'm now described as glowing, not pallid, and asked what sunscreen and skin cream I use. I've got nary a line on my face and I'm now free to secretly eye the fissures that have started to rumple my friends' faces. Victory is mine.

So, I've declared it. You can argue with me, mock me to your friends, or stick your fingers in your ears and "lalala" yourself all the way to Jersey City, but I've said it on the Internet, and you've read it on the Internet, so therefore it's undeniably true: Tans Are Out. And just remember, you heard it here first, folks!

Editor's note: This was originally posted on January 8, 2008, but since we're heading back into pale season, it seemed time to re-run this tribute to pale people.