Over the past five years or so, I seem to have gotten into the habit of taking pictures to document my tan (or lack thereof, as the case may be) after spending time practicing outdoor nude recreation. It's only Memorial Day - the first official weekend of the unofficial summer season (because summer actually starts 2/3 of the way through June, on a day the pagans referred to as "midsummer" - confused yet?) - but I'm excited, because this was the first time I'd been able to get nude out in the sunshine since last September! Well, it looks like I managed to avoid getting a burn this past weekend - which is always good - despite participating in a volleyball tournament. (It was pretty overcast on that day, for what that's worth).
I could probably fill a book with my observations of the nudist lifestyle (not all of them entirely nudist-kosher), one of which is the fact that they are all so very tan. Which makes sense - given all the time they spend out in the sunshine. I don't doubt that if I had the privilege of living a 24/7 (or hell, even an every-weekend-during-the-summer - as it is, I can only afford the time, money, and effort to make it out to a nudist camp about 4-6 weekends a year, depending on scheduling) outdoor nudist lifestyle (as opposed to staying cooped up indoors as I am usually forced to), I'd probably be pretty tan after a while too, in spite of any efforts to the contrary.
Which is the thing. You get the feeling sometimes that nudists enjoy getting a sun burn. It's certainly not surprising that some of them take their tans very seriously, and are proud of them. Personally, I've never understood tanning culture, even within the textile community. Maybe it's just because I think pale skin is attractive (for whatever reasons). I even think pale nudists are more appealing, because, while a dark, all-over tan suggests copious amounts of exposure, a pale body implies new, fresh skin, and all of the excitement of new experience that comes with its exposure - at least in terms of psychoanalytical interpretation.
Suffice to say that I don't mind getting a little sun in the summer time - a little, natural bronzing is okay, but I don't like tan lines at all. Being out in the sun in a t-shirt brings thoughts of a most un-appealing "farmer's tan", which leads me to want to take off my shirt. But then I think about the length of the legs of my shorts, and I begin to rue the fact that it's not commonly accepted in our society for men to walk around in Speedos, outside of pools and beaches and water parks (and, to be honest, maybe not even there...). But even that would leave me with an uncharacteristically pale behind. (I swear, even during the winter this past year, my butt was still paler than the rest of my body, long after I'd been out of the sun).
Is the solution staying out of the sun entirely? For much of my life, I thought so. Nowadays, there are things worth doing out in the sun (and the more exposed you are, the more fun they are), so I have to live with the compromise of trying to create a gradual fade between darker and lighter skin, rather than a harsh and unappealing tan line. But it's worth stating that, unlike how most nudists would probably feel, I value my pale skin. I don't particularly want to end up looking like the prototypical nudist, with dark orange, leathery skin. And while sunshine is essential to our health as human beings, I don't imagine that getting too much of it is a very good idea. So, I guess I'll go on heavily patronizing the sunscreen industry.
It's worth noting, however, that I am boycotting the Coppertone brand - in spite of the monopoly they hold over the sunscreen market - on account of their inexcusable prudishness. Once upon a time, their brand was marked by the iconic image of a little girl on the beach, with her swimsuit being pulled down by an ornery dog, to reveal her tan line. It was cute, and it made perfect sense in an advertisement for a sun tanning product. These days, however, the girl's pale butt has been covered up, and what's more, her swimsuit has been switched - in an excessively modest move - from a pair of briefs to a more suitably Victorian one piece (quite in contrast to modern trends). If you're as incensed by this gymnophobia as I am, then I invite you to join me in boycotting Coppertone, until such time as they revert their brand logo to the far less uptight way it used to be. In the meantime, Banana Boat provides an acceptable alternative.