Let This Be A Warning To All You Young Golden Goddesses


My dad is technically English (he moved to the States when he was about 5, so he doesn't have any of that fun accent, anymore.  He still uses some of the colloquialisms, though, like the word "bloody," as in, "I couldn't get a bloody cab to save my life!"  Or "knackered," as in, "I had way too much to drink last night. I'm completely knackered today." But none of these things sound quite right without the support of an English accent.)

With that English heritage of my dad's - thus, of my own - we probably have some Scottish down the lines somewhere.  I've submitted my DNA to Ancestry.com, and I'm just waiting for the results so I can find out if I was switched at the hospital, and really belong to someone wealthy and with no history of mental health issues.

My mom's heritage is Italian and Native American Indian.  Her grandfather was born and raised on an Indian reservation in Oklahoma, and her dad was a tiny little Italian, with a head of nice, thick, black hair.

I tell you all this because it doesn't make a damn bit of sense that my brother and I have red hair, and freckly, fair skin.  

Maybe my dad's possibly-Scottish genes from way, way back had something to do with it.  Maybe the genes jumped down a few generations from my mom's grandmother, who was also fair-skinned, freckly, and redheaded.  

Either way, it's odd and a little more than slightly annoying. 

Where most people feel out of place and self conscious if anything about them is different than the herd - especially in the middle school years - I was the opposite.  I liked that I had red hair and I stood out.   

One of my first jobs as a kid was teaching swimming lessons.  I'd be in the pool all day, and after swim classes, we'd slather our bodies with baby oil and lay out on a foil-lined mat, ensuring we'd get good and burnt.  

I kind-of want to vomit thinking about that. 

We'd spend our weekends on the lake, boating all day, with a thick strip of white zinc oxide down the length of our nose, but no sun protection anywhere else.  

Where were our parents?  Were they idiots?  Was common sense not a "thing" back then?

Now in my mid-forties, I've made my second dermatologist visit in six months where I left the office covered in red, puffy blisters from having "suspicious-looking" spots frozen off.  

The last time I looked this bad was when I had my hair cut into a short, trendy cut, that I now know made me look like a lesbian, and - I was a teacher at the time - one of my students said looked like a seashell.  

I did have another rough-looking patch when I had "permanent lipstick" tattooed on.  I put that in quotes because it was neither permanent, nor lipstick. It lasted only a few years before it faded away completely.  Hardly worth that full week of my lips throbbing with a searing heat that felt like I'd kissed a white-hot, greased frying pan. 

My family couldn't look directly at me for days, without showing a flash of fear, worrying that I'd look like that forever: swollen, red, and distorted.

Jesus, the things I've done in the name of beauty.

Anyhoo, sun damage is pretty obvious when you have skin like mine, thanks to my a-hole genes.  

Did you know that you need to wear sunscreen every single day? 

And not just on your face.  Put it on your hands, too.  The tops of your hands get sun damage through your windshield when they rest on your steering wheel.  (Who knew?) 

Let my pock-marked, blistered body be a warning to you young, golden goddesses: you better lay off the tanning beds.  Pull yourself together and appreciate the clear, fresh skin of your youth.  

You can always slather on some self-tanning lotion, for crying out loud.  

Don't make me post a picture of myself.  Because I'll do it, and there'll be nothing I can do to get that image out of your head.  It'll put the fear of God right into you.