A co worker came back to our grey, overheated London office this week sporting the tan of a Brazilian parade dancer. Golden, even and envy inspiring (clearly admired for the healthy glow, not the cancer potential). This one look defined where she had been on her holiday (clearly not to take curling lessons) and also implied she had THE BEST TIME EVER. Why? Because the weather was amazing. So amazing it had tattooed it's joy on her skin in a golden hue.
We wear our holiday weather marks with pride. The tan lines we just couldn't avoid, the racoon like goggle mark after the best ever ski trip. These markings from the environment are proof that we are open-minded world travellers, with the body to pull off a bikini.
The tan wasn't always a look you wore inappropriately low clothing to show off, or tried to have someone replicate whilst wearing a plastic see through g string. Back in the day (not used in the common sense, like back in the day last week, but much more literally, meaning back in the day 1800s) the tan was considered the fashion choice of the lower classes. You were tanned because you were out working the fields like a schmuck, not sitting in the parlour learning languages you would never use (thanks Jane Austen). Social climbing women of this day even went as far as to use lead-based makeup to appear super pale (and therefore clearly unversed in the ways of the plough). Wiki sums up the risks of this pale trend perfectly by telling us “these cosmetics slowly caused their death through lead poisoning.”
Come 1903 the Noble Prize for medicine was awarded to Niels Finsen after he discovered his light therapy cured diseases such as rickets. All of a sudden a tan was healthy, if not also representative of a now dormant contagious disease. With tanning needing a severe PR lift in steps the lady herself, Coco Chanel (what look didn’t she pioneer???) Coco spent a little too long enjoying the rays in the French Riviera, therefore creating a legion of women who wanted the crisp, sunburnt look too. The holiday tan (along with it’s high end lifestyle implications) was born.
Nowadays, despite numerous sun smart campaigns (slip, slop, slap being my favourite), we still rejoice when someone says 'you look SO brown.' Sub text: I am overwrought with the jealousy I'm feeling as a result of your freedom to spend numerous days in a row bathing in blazing sun. The amazing weather of our holiday is written all over our skin, in a glowing tribute to it’s carefree days.
Holiday, celebrate hey?
Paris tomorrow (where I shall be working up a storm – weather metaphor!), looks a little on the chilly front. With no hint of peaking Autumn sun (it’s not even winter proper yet!!), get your gloves out.