I am almost ashamed to admit this for this is called “Real Rhonda” and I do tend to pride myself on being “real”.

In 8th grade I remember getting a tube of sunless tanning.  I used it only on my legs so I could wear shorts without being so self-conscious.  I remember an African-American friend exclaiming how tan I looked.  He didn’t see the streaks, smudges, etc.  For the first time in my life someone wasn’t stopping me to inform me how white my legs were, wasn’t calling me pasty, wasn’t acting blinded by the light.  It felt fantastic!  I stopped though because it was just too much work and not worth it.  I also made friends with people who didn’t care how white and pasty I looked.

I would try to get tan on my own. My whole life I have been trying to get tan on my own!    I remember some full body very painful burns that made me unable to sleep for a week. One was the first day of a seven day vacation in Mexico.  Do you know how much fun it is not to be in pain for your entire vacation because you were dumb enough to lay out all day like a normal person?  A friend’s dad died of skin cancer and my own dad has had skin cancers removed from his head.  Plus, going to nursing school and looking at pictures of  nasty skin cancers and the aftermath of having them removed doesn’t make anyone want to go out in the sun again (unless they are consumed with the thought of, “It will never happen to me”.)

You could ask the question, “Why doesn’t she just get comfortable with being white?  What’s the big deal?  Just be you and let everyone else go shovel some dirt.”  You could ask that question to anyone who has had “work” done I suppose.  We (being a huge generalization because there are plenty of people who are not trying to improve anything about themselves) are always trying to improve ourselves.

I go to the gym to improve myself.

I go to the dentist to improve myself.

I go get a pedicure to improve myself.

I go to church to improve myself.

I do laundry to improve myself.

I go to the doctor to improve myself.

And most of you do too.  However, getting a spray tan is not the same as going to church.  People don’t stop me and ask, “Wow you look like you went to church, or the dentist, or did laundry”. But they do stop me and ask, “Wow you look tan- did you go on vacation somewhere?”  And then the dilemma is all in my court.  And I have to serve up something that doesn’t sound absolutely superficial.

“Uh, no I didn’t go on vacation.  And I didn’t get any sun anywhere because I live in Seattle.  Yeah, we get rain.  Always.  There is no sun.  And when there is a sun out, it doesn’t get me brown, it gets me red.  So, I, uh, (whispering) got a fake tan, like a spray, you know.  It’s fake.  It doesn’t last longer than 4 days really.  And I (still whispering) take really fast showers so my money doesn’t all go down the drain (literally). The ironic thing is is that I get a spray tan because it rains all the time but then can’t go in the rain because I don’t want my spray tan to fall off. ”

To which the person usually responds, “Oh.”  And that would be the end of the conversation.  “Ok, moving on!”-awkward.

But here’s the deal.  I could promote tanning beds, skin cancer, leathery skin, etc.  Or I could promote whiteness (that sounds really racist).  Or I could promote fakeness.  On Real Rhonda, I am promoting fakeness.  This is sad but true.

It’s not a big deal.  It’s not the “elephant in the room.”  I get spray tans and I can talk about it. I am not sure what else to say but yes, it’s true.  I signed up for 6 months at a tan bar so I could get a deal.  So sue me.  You can get them too if you want or you can not.  Or you can tan (you lucky dog-not calling you a dog, but just using the expression) or you can rock yellow, black, or white we are precious in His sight.

Your call.

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