My family has a long history of redheads. My grandmother, Annie Lee, had gorgeous copper hair that turned a sandy blonde instead of gray. Add to that, giant blue eyes and tons of freckles. My cousin inherited both her hair and her name, so my mom was delighted when I was born with strawberry blonde hair and green eyes – my mother really wanted to carry on the tradition of a redheaded child.
As I grew, my hair turned a burnished auburn color that would streak blonde in the summer. Being an incorrigible tomboy, I lived outside and delighted in the freckles that covered my fair skin. I loved being a redhead as a child – it was special.
It was probably Annie Lee’s husband that gave me one of my lesser appreciated traits – ultra white, ultra fair skin. My grandfather was British and between my redhead heritage and British roots, it is probably inevitable that I would encounter skin cancer. Only I had melanoma – stage IV melanoma to be exact.
So when we moved to beautiful Southwest Florida, it was a challenge to stay out of the sun. Never a tanner, I have to slather sunscreen over every exposed inch of that day-glo white skin. And, I became addicted to self-tanner lotions to take some of the glare away from my exposed skin. The problem was orange palms, splotches of brown or stained sheets from the lotion not being equally spread.
This year I decided to embrace my uber-Caucasian heritage and proudly display my fair skin. It has not been easy. My clothes don’t look quite the same and I’ve had to change shoe colors that accentuated the bright glare of my fairness. It makes me a little self-conscious when I speak in front of a group – until yesterday.
Yesterday, I called a client to follow-up and she had great reviews from her team. Lisa added that her staff also said I totally “rocked the non-tan look.” Hmmm…I never thought of it that way. Part of my struggle is to fully accept the heritage I have been given instead of wishing for a golden bronze hue. It is timely now as I observe my body age despite my best efforts. Embracing my DNA as a gift instead of a nuisance is the goal to which I aspire. I am learning to fully love and appreciate the skin I am in…
What about you? What elements do you relish and which ones would you rather not? What would our lives be like if we wholly embraced all parts? For those of you who do, what advice do you have for those of us in transition?