Summer tan: do we all want it?

Hellen Chung, Opinion Editor

As the seasons transition from spring to summer, many people are obsessed with the bright sunshine and their plan for the perfect summer tan. However, not everyone wants to sunbathe under the blazing sun and achieve a tan. The Western beauty standard has come to admire golden skin, but this is the opposite for the rest of the world.  

For centuries, society has rejected people with darker skin or those who look different from the Eurocentric appearance. People of color have been discriminated against, throughout history, solely based on their appearance. As a result, they’ve come to adopt and blend in with the Western culture, leading to the appraisal and desire for light-toned skin. 

For example, growing up in an Asian family, from a young age, I’ve had several family members tell me directly that I was too tan. Every year, when summer started, I would get compared to others in my family, like my sister, who had fairer skin than I did, and be told that I should stay inside more.  

Having experienced this, it is quite ironic that many of the people who fit the world’s beauty standards want to change their natural look. However, I also acknowledge that because of differing ideals on skin color, people are developing insecurities where they feel the need to change the way they look.  

Many people, who naturally have pale, porcelain skin, are reaching for spray tan cans and scheduling appointments to sit in tanning beds, while those who have been criticized for their darker complexions are turning to skin bleaching.  

People go so far to meet the standards that society has so ferociously created, yet they are not accepted. They’ve changed themselves, and much of society sees that as unnatural.  

By darkening or lightening one’s skin, a drastic difference can be noticed and criticized. People are even called out for looking like a different race or wanting to, even though it was probably society that practically forced them to change. 

There is a moral gray area around the extent to which people can alter the face and body they were born with. But sometimes you can’t even tell if something has changed. As a result, no one knows when they’ve somehow crossed the line until they’ve already crossed it. 

So, then, what is everyone supposed to do? 

It is extremely difficult to understand and accept the way we look when there are always other people commenting on our appearances. We feel it is necessary to change the features that others criticize, but even if we do, we’ll be criticized further.  

I’ve always had conflicting feelings towards my tanner skin tone because my family and others would tease me, but at the same time, I felt sort of proud of it. Living in the U.S., the media featured many people with attractive golden skin, which made me feel represented.

In the end, skin tone is simply a matter of preference, and everyone has their own. Therefore, meeting everyone’s standards is just impossible.  

Society has ultimately tarnished the mere existence of skin color variety. The spectrum of complexions has created ever-changing beauty standards that can only be met with one or the other. As a result, many people wish to be the one thing they are not, and that has contributed to the rise of cosmetic alterations, such as tanning and skin bleaching.