50 Shades of Tan

Twice a year, I get naked and stand in front of a man who looks over every inch of me. And then I wait for the scolding. I’ve been a bad, bad girl.

I have a tan.

Whenever he starts to tsk over the color of my skin, I remind him that I’m probably one of the few people who actually keeps an August dermatology appointment. And I silently think, “Listen Mister: You could use a little color on that pasty-white skin of yours.” Though I don’t say that out loud. He has access to a scalpel.

I’m not one of those tanaholics who can’t wait to get out to fry in the sun, and my sunscreen doesn’t fall below SPF 30, (and my “tan” would make many of you laugh at its meekness), but I still see my color darken as the summer goes on no matter how often I reapply the block. And I am well aware that years and years of SPF 4 and “burn then peel” tanning was not in my long-term best interest.

In other words: I do not love the affects of the sun nearly as much as I did in my 20’s.

Do you remember those photos they’d show with a smiling woman’s face, “before” and “after” years of sun damage? Her “before” face would be clear and shiny . Her “after” face would be covered in brown freckles and patches.


Freckle beard just visible on one side. Cute boy on other side.

I am the “after” face now. For the past two years, as soon as I start getting in the summer’s sun, I get a huge “beard” of freckles across my cheeks and across my chin. Nothing, nothing makes me feel so old as those freckles and age spots. Well what would happen if I entered a bounce house runs a close second. But we won’t go into that right now.

So when my kids complain at how much sunscreen I lather onto their skinny little bodies—when my oldest begs me not to make her “white” with zinc oxide—when they screech at sand mixed into the sunscreen that I’m trying to spread across their feet: I show them my freckly face and say,

Heed My Warning. Beware the freckle beard.

 Something tells me they aren’t finding this nearly as scary as I am.


  1. Can you imagine what we’d look like if we Frequented the tanning bed like most Western Massers during the 80’s? Freckles and all, you are still lovely.

  2. Never thought of it as a “freckle beard,” but since I’ve had loads of freckles since I was little, perhaps that’s why. I can’t imagine going for my once-over during the summer.
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  3. Freckle beard! I love it! I feel the same about my raccoon eyes (AKA melasma patches).

  4. Haha! I started putting sunscreen…now that I have white sun spots 🙁 at least your freckles are cute!

  5. I’m never going to your dermotologist! after living in FL for 7 years, I’m a permanent, all over freckle. But I have learned after about 42 years to wear a sunscreen over 4. You’d be proud – I’m now up to 15. Of course I’m writing this from Ft Myers Beach after a day in the sun and a pretty red sunburn……hey, I should have been able to stay in the sun 8 times longer than not wearing sunscreen 🙂

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