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11 Things Pale Girls Are Sick of Hearing


‘ve written posts about the crazy comments redheads get, and one on the things women with long hair hear constantly, but actually, I think being pale is one of the things people find hardest to understand and/or accept: so much so that if you have pale skin, you’re probably sick to death of hearing things like…

pale skin by the pool

“You’re SO pale!”

Just as redheads are constantly informed that their hair is red (You don’t say!), and tall people can’t go anywhere without being told how very tall they are, people with very pale skin are never allowed to forget what colour they are: as if that would even be possible. Strange as it may seem, however, most of us are well aware of the colour of our skin: we’ve had it our entire lives, after all, so, you know, thanks for the newsflash, but you’re not exactly presenting us with brand new information here – sorry!

“Are you ill?”

Or, even worse, “Wow, you look TERRIBLE! You should be at home in bed!” I just have to go easy on the blusher to find myself on the receiving end of comments like this, and if I don’t wear any makeup at all, people will be calling an ambulance before I know it. Because there’s nothing like being told how horrific you look to make you feel good about yourself, huh?

“Can’t you tan AT ALL?”

You know, I probably COULD, if I was willing to risk skin cancer, but I actually think I’ll just keep slathering myself in SPF 110, if it’s all the same to you…

SPF 110 sunscreen

“What, never?”

If you’ve ever wanted to truly shock someone to their very core, just try telling them you have no desire whatsoever to get a sun-tan. They’re be talking about it for days…

“Not even if you laid out in the sun all day?”

I’m really struggling to think of an easier way to explain this to you…

“Could you not just use fake tan, then?”

Yes, we could. But as hard as it to wrap your head around the concept, some of us don’t actually WANT to change the colour of our skin. Imagine!

“You’d look better with a tan.”

I’ve actually had people say this to me, and it’s just jaw-droppingly rude: I mean, you’re basically telling me my natural skin colour isn’t acceptable to you, or “good enough” to be seen, and that I should try to change it, just to please you? How on EARTH is that an OK thing to say to someone? Can you even imagine telling someone with naturally dark skin that they should lighten it, because “it would look better”? Nope, didn’t think so…

“Better remember to wear sunscreen!”

I know people mean well with this one, and it would be fine I was, like 6 years old or something. Given that I’m a grown woman, though, it’s just a little patronising to assume I don’t know how to look after my own skin, don’t you think?

“I don’t expect you’d like it there: it’s really sunny!”

Look, we’re just pale: we’re not vampires, OK? We don’t have to avoid the sun completely, and as long as we’re appropriately dressed, and sun-screened-up, we’re perfectly capable of going outdoors when the sun’s out. I promise we won’t disintegrate at the first touch of daylight (and we don’t glitter like Cullens, either, more’s the pity).

“Your holiday can’t have been THAT good: where’s your sun tan?”

Because, yes, the sole purpose of travel is to get a sun tan. I feel like such a failure now.

“Look how much darker I am!

(Usually said while grabbing your arm to compare colour.) It’s not that we’re jealous of your superior tanning ability, you understand – it’s that we don’t like being treated like some kind of curiosity or freak: skin colour isn’t a competition, after all, and it’s SUPER weird when people start trying to act like they’ve somehow “beaten” us in a contest we didn’t even know we were taking part in. (And wouldn’t want to, either, for that matter…

Got pale skin? Got any other strange comments you’d like to add?
11 things people with pale skin are sick of hearing12 things pale girls are sick of hearing

What do you think?

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  • Jen
    February 3, 2016

    I went on a family trip to Thailand as a teenager. I was never spoken to, except when the women I met exclaimed ‘Oh your skin is so white/pale’

    Otherwise the old ‘maybe one day your freckles will join up’ really grinds my gears!

    • Amber
      February 3, 2016

      Oh yes! I remember when I was a kid, I used to hope my freckles WOULD join up, so my face would look more “normal” – I soon learned!

      • Hayley White
        January 12, 2020

        I’m pale skinned with dark hair and I’m so sick of people saying your so pale . I posted a pic on facebook for the 1st time in ages as I have no confidence and someone said you look even paler . Why are people so mean

    • Karen
      June 25, 2019

      Don’t you ever go outside? Or ,you don’t go outside is one I hear every summer! It really gets on my nerves!

  • Daisy
    February 3, 2016

    I’ve had complete strangers double back on themselves just so they could shout “get a tan” at me. I’ve been stopped at airport security (on my 2nd ever holiday, so I was pretty nervous) and made to wait while they found someone who spoke some English, just so they could insult my skin. It’s actually impossible for me to tan. I burn in 10 minutes, then it peels and I’m back to whiter than white. I’m the only brunette in my family but I’m paler than my red-headed relations! The last 6 months I’ve been having my hair done orange and I love it. My other half thinks it “makes more sense” with my skintone. I’m hoping when the sun returns (which is the worst time of year for skin-colour abuse, partly because I reflect the sun so I’m more glaringly white then!) I might get less “comments” on my skin as at least people EXPECT red heads to be pale. It is shocking how being rude about someone’s skin being pale is considered acceptable, when it’s outrageous (and illegal) to be rude about darker skin.

    • Amber
      February 3, 2016

      Redheads don’t get less comments, unfortunately – I always find it so weird that people think it’s strange that I have pale skin given the colour of my hair, but they’re just astonished by it!

      • Daisy
        February 3, 2016

        Damn it, there’s that plan out of the window then.

    • Daisy
      May 17, 2017

      Hey! I am a natural red head and I get comments on it ALLLLL the time. Sadly, some people don’t seem to think before they talk. I got made fun of my whole life for having freckles and pale skin. I tried so many DIY and fake tans because I am so pale. It’s like the beacons of Gondor have been lit when I am in a bathing suit (LOTR reference). But I always tell myself when people say rude and means comments about my paleness, all of the tanners are older they will have leathery skin and you and I will have gorgeous skin because we always protected it! I have really learned to love being pale and freckled. 🙂

      One last thing, if the tan thing still bothers you- I do have one product I use when I want to add a little color. “Jergens Natural Glowing Lotion”. You start applying it and color gradually comes about. It’s ver soft and you can stop using it whenever the color seems right to you. You don’t have to use a lot and just use it a couple days and the color appears! It disappears after a few showers too so it’s very temporary. If you REALLLLY want some color- that’s what I recommend.

      • Alejandro García
        December 18, 2018

        pale skin is UNIQUELY BEAUTIFUL!
        that’s all I want to say… 🙂

  • Lucy O'Neill
    February 3, 2016

    My natural skin colour is a lovely hue of lilac… My translucent skin tans to a tinge of yellow if I were to try. I used to always hear “You don’t even look like you’ve been on holiday!” I was really pleased with my Simpsons appearance… Now I don’t even bother I’m too scared of burning!

    • Colleen
      May 21, 2017

      My nickname is “Casper”?

      • Robinella
        July 12, 2018

        i had a hairdresser with fake EVERYTHING (plastic surgery, super long lacquered nails, gobs of makeup) and her teenage daughter fell right in her footsteps. Imagine a teenager looking that way. When i was on my break, the hairdresser came outside for hers and jokingly called me “Casper.” I informed her that artificial tanning causes skin cancer and doesn’t look natural at all. I’d rather have my “casper” skin, thank you very much (and i don’t even have pale skin ~i have a lot of Native American blood and even in the winter, my paleness from lack of sun is a golden color with a few freckles on my arms and hands. People with fake tans will pay. People with naturally dark skin who would make fun of someone with light skin ~well, maybe they are just jealous.

        • Robinella
          July 12, 2018

          When i said tanning beds cause cancer, i should have included outdoor tanning with tan enhancers and no spf or sunblock will give you crepe-paper skin, done consistently, over years; just as bad as bed tanning ~all the same all the same.

    • Danielle Vickers
      July 24, 2019

      I was ridiculed mercilessly for my pale skin in grade school and high school. In an effort to fit, in I tried desperately to get a tan and ended up with damaged skin. 🙁 Fortunately in college, I gave up and decided people can accept me as I am, or not at all. I’m now in my fifties, and though I have some freckles and age spots from previous sun exposure, I have recently received compliments on my ivory skin!

  • Anna
    February 3, 2016

    Hi Amber, my nickname at school was ‘the ghost’ as i was so pale. I had people telling me I look really ill and need to have some vitamin D – but I always reply back by saying that I get plenty enough of vitamin D and I take insipration form Dita Von Teese.

    • Kenzie
      April 28, 2017

      I was once told I “blend into the wall” (which was starkly white) and also asked if I’ve EVER gone out in the sun haha. Some people are super ignorant.

  • The Other Emma
    February 3, 2016

    Having missed a patch of skin on my foot while basting myself in suncream on holiday one year and ending up with serious burn that looking back probably required medical treatment I will never ever chance tanning (not that I ever did anyway). I’m normally a mottled blue / purple shade and I have to say I’m really envious of people who have creamy skin instead of the corn beef effect that mine has. I would never consider telling anyone they looked like they’d over did it on the tanning bed / fake tan / skin damage but it never ceases to amaze me how many people feel free to comment my skin colour. It’s almost as many people who tell me I’m very thin and I need to eat more but that is another rant.

    • Illyana
      May 23, 2019

      Yes…this. you wanna meet up sometime and swap stories about the ignorance of humans? If you don’t fit the ideal norm, it’s like everyone and their mother (and espeically grandmothers) must hurdle insults or unwanted advice at you. It can make you feel so low about yourself. You just kinda start wishing every kardashian-esque woman with a perfect tan, big boobs and bum..would fall off the face of the planet so you can have your moment to feel accepted and dare I say..attractive to the general public. It gets old hearing how sickly people think you look just because you skipped makeup and aren’t heftier than you are. It isn’t socially acceptable to shame people for being abnormally large or dark..so why is the other end of the spectrum okay?

    • Tasia
      July 24, 2019

      I come from a family of white folks with a dash of native American. Some of my family members were blessed with that dark skin. Me, my immediate family and one uncle (out of 4) were not. My grandma while meaning well used to openly praise my older cousin for being her first dark grand baby. I would hear things, at every family event, about my fair skin constantly. Even from my own white mother, who tanned regularly. It used to make me feel ugly and like I didn’t fit in with the darker members of my family. Sounds silly to have felt bad about my skin tone, like oh yeah sure white girl problems boohoo you don’t know the struggle of being judged for your skin color. We’ve all had experiences in life that we can use to relate to others. People respect and love your fellow human, and leave us be about our dang skin! Lol

  • Rosie
    February 3, 2016

    Yep, I’ve heard most of those at some point. I don’t tan – I burn and that’s it. I have no desire to tan or use fake tan at all. My sister on the other hand tans really easily, so when we were on holiday as kids it always made me look even paler! I’ve had the “you look ill” one a few times – nope, just super pale!

    Also, you can get SPF 110? I need to get me some of that.

    • Amber
      February 3, 2016

      To be honest, I’ve read that anything above SPF 50 or so is a bit of a con, and doesn’t give you any extra protection : I always just buy the highest one I can find, though, and reapply it constantly!

      • Trudy
        February 4, 2016

        I’m getting my science geek on here. The SPF rating refers to how much longer it will protect your skin, than if you had none on. So if you would normally burn in 10 minutes, SPF50 will protect you for 500 minutes, which is roughly 8 hours. That’s about as much daylight hours as there is in the day, so that’s why anything over SPF50 is a con – you don’t actually need to be protected any longer! You do have to keep reapplying sunscreen though, because sweat or swimming will wash it away. End of geek lesson for the day!

  • Rowena D
    February 3, 2016

    So relatable! Thank goodness I like my pale skin. My housemate told me once she had overheard one of our friends asking his wife, “How is she so white? Does she bleach her skin or something?”. I have a picture of me on the beach with my cousin and her friends. Every inch of their skin is exposed and slathered with coconut oil – meanwhile I’m shrinking under a two towels, a hat and sunglasses!
    Luckily there are plenty of cultures that appreciate a fair complexion. South Korea is my beauty product home; everything is white as it gets, and chokkas with SPF. I’ll say it – I’m a whitey!

  • Adela
    February 3, 2016

    I love your skin colour (and I wish I had red hair too)! Actually, the only thing I hate about my very light skin is that I cannot find any foundation or base products that match it. Even Bourjois Healty Mix 51 or Rimmel Match Perfection Light Porcelain are to dark (even for my “darker” summer skin), the only thing I can use are asian BB creams – they suppose to whiten your skin 🙂

    • Lost Guy
      February 27, 2016

      I am probably the first guy here, I know I might be a bit lost, but I just found the site for this specific article.
      For the context: I have mega pale skin with lots of freckles and auburn hair.

      When younger I thought that people were only making fun of me. However, now I have some asian friends who simply don’t seem to understand how pale skin works. I don’t mean to be racist at all, it’s just that they aren’t used to this skin type, it’s like something out of their world. This actually has changed my way of viewing this topic.

      I just want to point that people should be tolerant to others, maybe they are actually trying to help (just maybe).
      My question is how is the best way to explain them? Just saying “I can’t tan” doesn’t seem to work well. That is why I searched for this article, I am hoping/suggesting for some text to show these people in a friendly manner to see if they can understand it. Technical/scientific texts do not seem to help much since they are too long and hard to follow for many people.

      Therefore, I thank you for this useful post for future reference, but my suggestion still stands.

      Bonus true story: recently some girl invited me to have some tan, I replied “actually I can’t”. Then she said: “ok, maybe later then.”

      • Lost Guy
        February 27, 2016

        Huh, sorry, I posted as a reply instead of common comment, forgive me. The website owner may move the comment above and remove this if she wishes….
        Yes, I am indeed lost here.

    • Wibbletsmum
      June 2, 2016

      Pixi do a very pale foundation. http://www.pixibeauty.co.uk/complexion/foundation My daughter, who is even paler than me swears by their products.

  • Merry
    February 3, 2016

    Yes yes yes to all of this! But then when I lived in China pale skin was prized! So much so after being there a couple of months and my freckles coming out in the sunshine I was told that my once ‘beautiful pale skin’ was now ruined with all the ugly brown dots.
    ( I should point out that in Chinese culture stating you are ugly/fat etc is not seen as rude, a big cultural difference from our own and takes a while to get used)

    • sarah
      September 29, 2016

      Yes!!! I’m a strawberry blonde and I’m married to an asian and he LOVES my pale skin (thankfully)! His family used to own an asian store and I couldn’t believe they sold whitening soap!
      Now our kids have a mix of our skin colors. My side of the family are happy our kids are tan, and his side are happy they are white (and have freckles…and 2 have hazel eyes which they love as well)
      But people comment all the time saying, “aren’t you glad they didn’t get your skin?!!!” or “thank God they got Joe’s skin instead of yours”.

  • Mariana
    February 3, 2016

    European sunscreen brands have been forbidden to label SPF above 50, because there’s no difference after that. Say SPF30 blocks 70% of UV rays, then SPF50 filters 99.8% (made up numbers, but it’s around that), and SPF110 blocks 99.9% percent, for probably a much larger price difference… Not to mention UV-B have nothing to do with cancer, but outside of Europe there doesn’t seem to be any regulation saying sunscreens need to have a minimum protection against UV-A.

    I hear these things on occasion, but I doubt that it’s to the extent you do :/ I don’t know why it’s so surprising for some people to understand not everyone’s body is the same, and that they in 10 seconds aren’t going to be able to solve something the other person lived with their entire lives. I have a blood circulation problem that means my hands and feet don’t stay warm when it’s cold – basically my body shuts down circulation there instead of increasing it, and the opposite when it’s really hot -, and every time I say I can’t stay outside more than 5min when it’s really cold because my hands freeze, a lot people say “just wear gloves”. OMG mind blowing, that’s so not the first thing that occurred to me, followed by every single layering option there is! Seriously.

  • Trudy
    February 3, 2016

    Trudy | TrudyJohanna

  • Sandra
    February 3, 2016

    I’m super pale, too. If I’m not wearing any makeup at all, even my mum thinks I’m ill… Yes, that’s very annoying…
    But I personally like my skin colour, I think it would be very boring if everyone had the same skin colour.


  • Elizabeth Rose
    February 3, 2016

    What the what? I am not a pale person. I tan easily and can’t help it, really. I would never say ANY OF THESE to someone who was pale. It just seems rude. Besides, there are lots and lots of pale beauties out there who are just fine in their skin. Dita Von Teese anyone?

  • Anna International
    February 3, 2016

    Every single one of these is the truth. I lived in Italy for 3 years (and no, never got a tan despite daily exposure, sometimes (shock horror) without sunscreen (yeah, I burned)) and people would actually point at me and comment (assuming I was a tourist and didn’t speak the language). I was also a favourite of mosquitoes, so I was kind of white, with massive red blotches all over my arms and legs…people would move away on public transport. 🙁
    Having said that, when visiting India, I was practically a beauty queen (I’m very curvy too!) – men everywhere proposed to me constantly.
    I guess its horses for courses as to whether people consider it attractive or not, but it seems nobody ever gets used to it!
    I’m getting married in the summer – so many of my friends have said I should get a fake tan for it, I am insulted! I don’t want to look like someone else on my big day (besides, it always bloody goes patchy, I gave up years ago), I want to look like me, and love looking like that! My dress is ivory, so at least there will be some contrast! Even if it’s the other way to usual 🙂

  • Grasshopper
    February 3, 2016

    Yes to all of these! I’m from Texas and the pressure here to be tanned is relentless. It doesn’t help that my hubby and step-daughter are darker naturally and get really brown in the summer. I’ve learned that trying to get a tan that others would even notice is pointless for me, though, so I agree and applaud your efforts to be happy and content with your natural skintone.

  • I’m very pale naturally and I love fake tan but people are always surprised that I get a spray tan before a holiday and always come back paler!

    • Amber
      February 3, 2016

      I do occasionally use fake tan when I’m on holiday (and sometimes at home in the summer), but I STILL get comments about how pale I am – I’m actually not sure why I bother with it!

  • Fiona
    February 3, 2016

    I remember trying on a dress for a friend’s wedding and the sales assistant frowning and pouting (I quite liked it) and the she said ‘well, it will look OK once you’ve got your fake tan on’. Did I buy the dress? Reader, I did not. (& have boycotted the ’boutique’ ever since). Embrace the pale!

  • Becky
    February 3, 2016

    SPF 110??? You have answered all my prayers!

  • Nicola Rippon
    February 3, 2016

    I have head just about every one of these comments at some point or other. Apart from my late Granddad I am the palest person in our family by a long way (and non of us are exactly anything other than fair!) so it’s something I’m used to and that I’ve never minded. I’m lucky in that recently I’ve found a few true ultra-fair skin friendly makeup products (primarily by US brand Tarte – who do seem to understand that there is something fairer than alabaster – I’d advise anyone to check them out).
    I am so pale that the year I went blonde the passport office sent back my photo because they couldn’t tell where my face ended and the white background began (I kid you not).
    I, like the rest of you, get fed up of being told I look ill, or pasty, or tired. Of being advised to ‘warm up’ my complexion with bronzer or to give the sunblock a break. I have learned to embrace my palor and to appreciate it’s rarity. To love the fact that I can rock a classic retro makeup look without a thought, that I can dye my hair almost any shade and carry it off, that I can choose strong colours without fear of clashing and wear every nail polish colour (except peach) with aplomb. We pale girls are rare, our skin can’t be faked and we should never have to apologise for not being any shade of golden!

    • Nemo of Utopia
      December 25, 2019

      Be sure mention to the next person who tries to rag on you about your exquisite palor, that they look like a jumped-up peasant with delusions of being a proper noble, while you, CLEARLY, actually are one: in a voice absolutely DRIPPING with haughty disdain for someone who OBVIOUSLY is a mere farmer daring to address a well-bred lady such as yourself…

      (In medieval Europe pale skin was a sure sign of HIGH rank; because only they could afford to remain indoors all day.)

  • Zulema Williams
    February 3, 2016

    I know how you feel!
    My mom is a tan Mexican and my dad is a redheaded Canadian, I’ve lived in Mexico my whole life.
    I inherited his pale skin and my mom’s dark hair (instant goth).
    I got teased all through my school years and now if I dare to show up at work without makeup, my boss thinks he is overworking me or that I’m sick.
    I never get tan and it is so difficult for me to get any makeup pale enough or sunscreen with high enough SPF here in México.
    People never believe me when I tell them I’m Mexican either here or abroad and when I go on vacation with friends I always end up being the ghost in the picture.
    People always ask me if I don’t tan because I want to look Canadian… Listen guys, believe me. If I could forego slathering sunscreen that is as thick as mayonnaise every 15 minutes, I’d do it.
    The only way I ever get to look tan is when my freckles start showing up and they cover my legs, I may looks splotchy but I look like a tan splotch!
    Anyways, I’ve started buying online a bunch of Korean beauty products and they’ve been lifesavers! I love them and their love of pale!

  • Annabel
    February 3, 2016

    I have very fair skin as well, so I totally feel you on this. I may not shine like a Cullen, but if the sun is strong enough my legs WILL reflect the light like a white wall would. The only problem I have with my skin is that I have very dark hair and quite a lot of it- I can shave one day and the hair will be noticiable before it’s even grown because it’s so dark and my skin is almost transparent. You could also make a map of the human circulatory sistem because you can see my veins fairly easily. But I love my porcelain white skin and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Plus, pale skin + dark hair + naturally reddish lips beacause they’re constantly dry = 21st century Snow White. I ain’t gonna say no to that! If only I had her singing voice…

  • Mana
    February 3, 2016

    My favorite is when someone says “they have such lovely porcelain skin” and the person they’re talking about is tan and then they say I’m ghostly! No I’m porcelain they’re tan!!

  • Lisa
    February 3, 2016

    I live in Los Angeles and in Junior High I remember other kids giving me cards for the tanning salon. Now I work as an actress where I’ve gotten to play a few ghosts and sickly people. I did a horror film where I played the dead wife who had been dug up from her grave and the director came up to the makeup artist while she was working on me and told her “to make the rest of my face look like my forehead.” Only trouble was she hadn’t touched my forehead yet. 🙂


  • CiCi Marie
    February 3, 2016