Monday, May 14, 2012

Ode to Suntanning

Were you ever incredibly good at something -  something that is no longer highly regarded? Even downright frowned on? For me it was sunbathing. So this weekend my friends, when the sun came out, it was bittersweet.

Me this weekend... on the beach in my mind. Photoshop: The High Schooler

Tanning is something I've written about before (early last year when mostly just my Mum and her friend Pam read my blog) but you may not be acquainted with my skills for sun-worshipping.

I came from the tiny surf town of Ohope Beach in the Bay of Plenty"The most sunshine hours in New Zealand" was our town's mantra and we sold cans of sunshine to tourists. I opened one once; it was empty and the inside was painted gold. Genius. I should have been the town mascot; no one took better advantage of those sun hours than me. No. One.

The commitment I applied to tanning was incomparable - I did the slow cook from first light to dusk slathered with Johnson's Baby Oil (face and hair included.) 

Other sunbathers dropped off by lunch time or early afternoon. Some toddled inside to watch TV, others to do their homework, others to play sports, the rest to simply pursue their lives out of the sun. Amateurs. I would remain at my station, my possie (position) only altering slightly as the sun moved in the sky.

Reading was out - the sun had to reach each side of your nose and cheeks. Chatting was possible with minimum expression. You see, for us deep tanners, sunbathing was an activity in itself. 

And it was the most satisfying activity in the world; the more time I put in, the more accolades I received. "Crickey!" even passers-by would remark, "your legs are so nice and brown". 

At my old alma mater, Whakatane High School, we had a uniform where nothing except your calves showed, so I learned early on to concentrate on my legs. Other less serious sunbathers would fall for the obvious mistake of browning only their back. Weak, people! Take the easy way out, people! Yes...clearly they had lapsed into reading whilst sunbathing. And a costly error - the back was seldom seen during an ordinary day at our school.

"Heck!" random people would say: "Look how even you tan is!" My legs were the brownest but generally I could pride myself on a sweeping unanimous golden brown.

Fast forward to the Nineties and Naughties. How could I have known real tans would come to be seen as cancer-ridden masks and deep sunbathers as the epitome of ugliness? My long-term laying out would produce sun spots and untold wrinkles. My knowledge of exact positioning in the sun would become as redundant as mixed tapes.

How, how, how could I have got it so wrong? (Mind you, I also always thought Captain and Tennille were bloody brilliant and would forever feature in the Top Ten...)

Galenic (Pricey, even, non-smelly) L'Oreal, (no fuss wipes) Hawaiian Tropic (easy spray, can be streaky) Jergens, (some smell, takes a while to build up tan)

These days, at age 50, I'm still addicted to the tan, but I fake it on the face, bronzy old bag that I am. And the legs? A melee of my slap-on tan products above...

What was your special talent back in the day?




96 comments:

  1. I was in the sun a lot when I was younger, but hat and shirt and suntan lotion were part of the order of the day. So no tanning specialist here. Glad you had fun with your process, and hope that you are not affected by any nasty fall-out from your adventures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Slip slap slop are the order of the day in New Zild now too, think the Canadians have a similar philosophy.

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  2. I admire your tenacity for a golden tan back then. I think my speciality was annoying my big brother. I knew all the buttons to push. It was most entertaining. :)

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    Replies
    1. That's a skill my kids have acquired too!

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  3. Being the redhead in the family it seemed ridiculous that I even tried the surfer babe look that you so 'effortlessly' achieved. But I certainly got the bleached hair look with the juice of many a lemon tree dumped on my hair and then washed in the dregs of beer left in dad's bottles!

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  4. I'd love to be tanned but I resemble a dolcelatte cheese. Fake tans even St Tropez make little impact, but I wouldn't be surprised if my blood runs orange. My special talent used to working and partying on 2 hours sleep. Now I need 22 hours sleep to get 2 hours of anything done!

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    Replies
    1. My ability to lie in one place has translated into a mega sleeper too..

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  5. you know how to weave a tale. Very funny. Have you seen the story in the news about the woman who took her 5 year old into the tanning bed? She is so funny looking with her extreme tan.

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  6. Oh, I'm pretty my tanning skills rivaled yours. And I did not start in a beach town, but in the midwest. I was the darkest girl in a hundred mile radius! Upon moving to Texas I was finally among my own and could beach it as I always knew I was meant to.

    I was even one who added iodine to my baby oil to intensify the sun. Oh yes I did.

    Last summer I had two bits of basal cell carcinoma cut from my chest and arm. Such a buzz kill. Now I'm funneling all my tanning wisdom into SPF wisdom.

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    Replies
    1. Iodine! Blow - missed that one! Obviously should have studied my periodic tables better!

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  7. Lol!! Yep I'm with you (52..) and paid a price for my days on the beach. Now the only tan I get is in the bathroom with St. Tropez or an air brush tan!

    leslie

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  8. Enjoyed your post - it's so true the way attitudes have changed towards sunbathing and how the shelves are now full of various fake tans - and I think I've tried most of them!

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  9. I used to be able to eat fudge and other rich foods. Now I can't remember the last time I ate a doughnut. I'd really rather have a piece of watermelon!

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    Replies
    1. Love both (donuts and watermelon) but could eat watermelon all day long

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  10. I was a champion tanner too. I think it comes with growing up in beach cultures. I grew up in Jamaica. Nowadays we know that Johnson's baby oil gave no protection at all. Instead, it basted us! I laughed reading about the no reading rule. I remember that and the no falling asleep on one side rule, the no frowning no sunglasses no hats rule. I also knew that the most even face tans came from frolicking for hours in the salty sea water but for the legs, you had to lie on the sand. then i moved to america and now i am several shades lighter than i know myself to be. i am still disconcerted every time i look in the mirror!

    great post!

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    Replies
    1. No falling asleep on the side - yes that rule was paramount - oh what we had to go through!

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  11. Oh I was too!!! I actually still am {sshhh}. I know it's horrible for you but I can't help it. I already got a tan this weekend at the beach house. And yeah I know I'll be all old and wrinkly before long but I hope my Mediterranean blood helps me. {finger's crossed!} :) xoxo

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  12. What a good post! I think most of us that are in our fifties can say that we we went through the stage of lots of sunbathing but sounds like you had it down to a science!! I now wear sunblock when I am out in the sun. Oh how sunbathing times have changed!

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  13. I never had any special talent so "back in the day" feels pretty much like today to me ! Thanks a lot for becoming a follower of my blog ; I feel that you and I have a very similar un-p.c. sense of humour ! XX

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    Replies
    1. Welcome cross the pond to the blog Silver Bunny!

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  14. I'm far too pathetically white and Irish-blooded to tan properly but, over the years, I've managed to get to the stage where the freckles more or less join up and I can manage a slight golden tint. You may have been one of one people I've seen on the beach with aluminium foil under their chins to reflect the sun's rays onto their necks!

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    Replies
    1. The aluminum foil was indeed used by my brother, though he could never catch up to me.

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  15. my mom is also a sun goddess... she cannot get enough of it. (& i'd lay beside her with a t-shirt over my head :))

    soooo- which one of the above is your favorite?? i started using clinique last year... doesn't smell, but i noticed it gets on clothing a little!

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  16. Tanning was so much fun back then wasn't it? just lie in the sun and BAKE.....I fainted one time because in the evening I was LOBSTER red and couldn't move...who knows what deadly terrors await me now? but I can't worry about it and still love getting some colour on me...only this time in moderation and wearing the right stuff. Jody you have inspired me to use bronzer for the first time...sparingly of course, but I might give it a go at the weekend..

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    Replies
    1. Exfoliate, rub it in and sleep in it, wash off in the morning, that gives the best tan. The booth spray ones are good and even but sometimes not dark enough.

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  17. You were right to put a t-shirt over your head, no wonder you have such great skin! The French one is the way and above the best, but don't think it sells in the US. The Loreal wipes are always great and have a more golden tan. The Sephora wipes seem kind of pricey as you needs loads of them. The best thing about these tans is they wash out of clothes. (and sheets) I sleep in fake tan all night and wash it off in morning. Needs to stay on at least eight hours. (Gosh just realised I know way too much about this stuff....)

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    Replies
    1. Oops, sorry, that was an answer to Torrie, poltegeists in my blog...

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  18. I used to go to the tanning salon in college with my girlfriends. It was addicting and super cheap! Now I use Bare Escentuals Faux Tan Sunless Tanner on my face...mix it with my moisturizer. It has a faint smell but give a natural looking tan...no orange tint or streaking.

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  19. Seeing that I lived in Scotland for my first 50 years, before moving to sunny New Zealand, I never had much experience in sunbathing, deep or not.

    Actually they hold special sun identification classes for the ypoung kids, just os they don't get terrified if the Sun actually broke through the clouds, rain, mists, fog, snow, hail, haar and midges.

    The national pastime was keeping warm, and I had a real talent for that. (I discovered whisky)

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    Replies
    1. How on earth did you discover whiskey in Scotland? Good research on your part...

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  20. I never tanned. I burned. Red-hair, fair-skin - I never achieved brown status...

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    Replies
    1. Your skin is probably the better for it, Carolyn!

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  21. Brown legs were the holy grail when I was younger!! Not easy in Scotland, or abroad where we scots are always a couple of months behind everyone else in terms of sun exposure.
    sighs
    My special talent growing up was making any pack of sweets last longer than my sister's

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    Replies
    1. My sister was able to do that, a great life skill

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  22. Prefer to be anonymous on this talent...... mine was ceramic bong making, which I actually made in our high school art class. These were round softball sized heads with removable hats. The faces had big round cheeks and poutey lips, the lower one protruding enough to fill with smokeable material. Remove the hat, fill with water, light up, and enjoy. My teachers were so confused....is it a creamer, a jam pot, tea strainer? I think some teachers knew but the heads really were art. I had a whole collection which were presented at the art fair. My art teacher even requested to keep one on display. I wish I still had one, even though I would now only use it as a creamer.

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  23. Another thing to add to your looooong list of talents! Ummm, I used to be able to do a pretty good rendition {or so I think} of Annie's tomorrow--- Asian-inspired, dark-straight haired version...

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    Replies
    1. You're so sweet Maureen, but sadly that was my only real talent, gone baby gone. I often have Tomorrow in my head and now i really will

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  24. You crack me up! I have never had any talent for tanning as I am a fair headed redhead...but I have always dreamed! Your photoshop skills are incredible!

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    Replies
    1. They are the skills of my 14 year old, I'm useless at that kind of thing...

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  25. oh i would have been so jealous of you in high school. i'm always the color of decorators white so i've always had tan envy. in high school i gave it my all and got a little beigey but that is about it. if i could change one thing about me it would be my ability to tolerate sun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was a complete dork in High School - the only thing I had going for me was my tan legs...sad

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  26. I am San tropes girl and factor 50 girl now. But I have been various shades of orange with fake tans in my teens due to lack of sun in Ireland. Sadly I was also various shades of red when the sun came out and did use the lovely johnsons baby oil myself.

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    Replies
    1. Wonder if there sales went down after sunbathing went out of fashion?

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  27. Those Wipes look awesome! I am incredibly pale, so I'm in the process of looking for some sort of tanning product that works - and quickly. :P

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    Replies
    1. These wipes (bit of a doozer of a word) are a decent price. The Sephora ones really add up as you need loads.

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  28. I spent hours in the sun when I was younger, no SPF creams then. I was always the colour of a tomato and spent many nights being coated in calamine lotion to try to cool the burning. Calamine in those days only came as a liquid paint and set like a crust all over you!! (v attractive!)

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    Replies
    1. These was nothing like that pink calamine lotion, the smell of youth

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  29. If only I could undo those baby oil moments before Prom...ugh! You were one of the lucky ones with fully tanned legs. I was a tennis player and had the white feet dark legs thing happening--so very chic!

    xo Mary Jo

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  30. I put all the time - when I should have been playing sports - into laying out...

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  31. Like you, I was a good tanner: my legs were always brown. In those days we didn't know the dangers and, as you say, people admired you for the efforts you put in to get a 'good colour'.

    I don't like fake tans, it's the smell that puts me off and the idea of paper knickers. I just take it easy, use high protection and cover up.

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    Replies
    1. I'm am wondering where the paper knickers come in...intriging

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    2. I'm thinking of spray tans in salons. Never had one, but was told about the knickers??

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  32. I usually stay white or burn a little. No deep tans for me, unfortunately!

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  33. ah yes, i used to lay on my front lawn, covered in baby oil and lemon juice. if i did that now, i would be beet red! i do love a good self tanner, though!

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  34. I can't think of a special youthful talent, but am impressed by yours! And great healthy ways to keep a golden glow. I loev Jergens and Lancome lotions myself; in fact,I have been using them all week to fake a tan for a wedding this weekend! xo style, she wrote

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  35. i see some of my faves listed!
    i still tan...bad! but not my face, feet, neck, or hands. they get the fake stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm going to try some of the products from your blog too!

      Delete
  36. Jody, Thanks for your kind notes on my blog..If you could only see me and the sun damage I've done. Thanks goodness you can't really zoom on pictures! Yes I can totally relate to this and spent way too many years with the Bain de Soliel or Coppertone 4, which was just so ,"protective," slathered on.

    Now I spend my nights with retin A packed on the face to try to get rid of all the spots and such. I love the Jergens self tanner you showed and even put that one on the face too. I have heard the Lancome flash bronzer is the best, but haven't tried. I may try those wipes. I hate anything with too much smell! Without self-tanner I'm sadly albino-ish.

    Love Captain and Tennille!! Spent the whole of 6th grade trying to make my hair like hers! Did you have that hair-cut? She was the cutest.

    Great photo-shopping!! The new header is great too! I have to say you look so young and not showing any sun-related damage for all you say you did!

    xo
    Kim

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Kim, the photo is from far away...Musrat Susie, Musrat Sam...

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  37. I'm feeling a bit passionless after reading about your commitment to tanning. I never had anything close that I could be as proud of or worked so hard for. I should have paid more attention to my ankles.

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    Replies
    1. Yes if I could just find another passion like that

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  38. Jody- More of a freckler than a tanner here, I fear. Now I wear a 5" rim hat outside. It's like an umbrella. I wear it as an umbrella walking the kids to school, even!

    I can't stand sun lotions on my face when I'm sweaty and am still searching for the perfect sunscreen lotion. The physical block ones (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide) seem to go on chalky, and the chemical ones are not suppose to be good for the skin, I hear. And they sting when they get in your eyes!

    What do you use????? I have a sample of a spf15 mineral makeup I have yet to try...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My dermatologist just gave me some stuff that's almost white, then sinks in, doesn't make me break out which is my biggest issue (not fair to have both wrinkles and pimples!) Prescribed Solutions: Up The Anti, SPF 30. I can't wear hats.

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  39. I never had a talent for tanning. I was the king of the all over sunburn. I would accidentally get roasted until I was blistered, shivering and vomiting for days afterward. And I was a good athlete. Sports were my thing, although I regularly burned playing outdoor sports.

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    Replies
    1. End of the day, good idea on your part to put the time into sports

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  40. My mother used to be incredibly good at suntanning. She can't believe it herself when she recalls how she used to spend her summer holiday to get that perfect tan. I have very fair skin and I am afraid to sunbathe. But there was a time when I had my share of sunbathing, although my tan was far from perfect.
    Ada

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  41. I would have been so jealous of you and your brown calves at school - all the cool girls had tans but I didn't have the skin, or the patience! You don't look like the sun has done you much harm - and all that Vitamin D makes you feel so good! What do you do nowdays with all your free time LOL? xxx

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    Replies
    1. I know! I could have been a CEO of Forbes 500 company with all the time I put into that...

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  42. I hate to admit that at one time I did use baby oil and sun tan oil, with no SPF whatsoever. Terrible! I do use sunscreen these days, but not as much as I should because I love a golden tan in the summer. I know, terrible!

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  43. i hate it that the loreal sublime bronze are not available in my country,i hv to asked a friend of mine to get it for me every year if she travel to london or new york.it really works on my skin

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    Replies
    1. I'm heading over to your blog again to see where exactly you are

      Delete
  44. I couldn't stop laughing! Hilarious! I know friends who literally put cooking oil just that they can "cook" their skin a lot faster. I get terrible migraines from sun glare which meant I stayed mostly indoors until the sun began to set. Seeing that we get so much sunshine in NZ, I never really went out. Terrible, eh? It's not so bad here in the UK because it's cloudy and pouring with rain all the time (ARGH!).

    I've also managed to burn in 10 mins. Yeah. That ended my suntanning session really quickly. I've piled on SPF30, then 50, now 100 whenever I head out to the beach (seldom these days). *sigh* The last time I taught a class in shorts (don't ask), my students ran off to put on their sunglasses. They told me that the glare from my white legs blinded them. Cheeky kids.

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  45. Pink 'n' Peel - that's me. When I think of the layers of skin I must've scalded through as a kid - sunblock just wasn't invented then. Not in England anyway. Now even remembering a day warm enough to worry about sunblock is a very dim distant memory.... As for long-lost talents.... um.... no I got nuffin. Never had one and beginning to believe I never will... sigh. Oh oh oh!! - I've suddenly remembered I could pile up coins on my elbow and catch them in the hand (of the same arm). There you go. Self-esteem restored...

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  46. I've heard rumours of this 'sun' thing and it does sound nice...any of those cans still hanging around?

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