Taunted by Whites for being untanned.

Marcia S Davis,
Holland, MI

Since I was a kid and into adulthood, I’ve heard people say to me, a Caucasian, “You’re so white!” “You need to get some sun!” When I was younger I didn’t have the self-esteem to come back with a clever retort. I just buried my shame, dragging my self-image down with it, wishing I wasn’t in my own skin.

I call it Fish-Belly White. Peer pressure drove me to fry my skin with baby oil as a teenager just to fit in. Usually I just turned into a lobster. I’ve had numerous sunburns that are now emerging in my 50s as precancerous skin. Thankfully, I’ve been seeing a dermatologist annually for check-ups and may have saved my skin in time.

I’m not sure what to call this experience. Is it bullying? Is it a form of racism? Reverse racism? This project was a good outlet for me to express the shame of being the whitest of White people I know–many people who, ironically, tan their skin to be darker, yet have racist attitudes toward people of color.

If anyone criticizes my pale skin now, I just tell them [duh] I was born Caucasian. What you see is what you get. And hopefully I won’t get skin cancer.

I would love to understand what is behind the comments….what being “too white” means to them.


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