Make no mistake about it, I have two normal enough legs in good working order. They do exactly what they are meant to do. It is just that when summer rolls around I am very aware that they are not quite the colour I’d like them to be. I have very fair skin, with freckles on face and arms, and I burn easily and tan very little. This was a problem growing up in the Mediterranean – I was always aware I had the wrong skin colour. And whereas there has always been a role for very white skin (“skin like cream,” suggestions in Turkish poetry of growing up in a palace), my legs aren’t really white. You see, I’m Scottish. My natural skin colour is a sort of cold mottled blue, and it takes me a week of sunbathing to go white. I even tried programmes of gentle daily sunbathing as a teenager, but the best result I ever got still left me with white calves, pale fawn shins, and a very dark patch on each foot that made it look as if I hadn’t washed for a few weeks. Now, as I’m getting older, the skin on my legs is no more tolerant of sunshine but has taken on more of a red,white and blue mottled effect. Very patriotic, but not fashionable.
So, when I saw the supermarket had a special offer of some body lotion with a gentle tanning agent I bought some. I’d read recommendations of this brand, and indeed my mother (who tans nicely anyway) had used some herself with good results. I bought the one for fair skin, supposed to give a light tanned look, this developing after around 4 days use. I used it on my legs (just once). It developed overnight and the next day I had dark brown patches on my knees. Avoiding my knees I applied it again. Now I look as if I got into an argument with a bottle of foundation. Orange-tinged foundation.
I wonder what will come into fashion first: orange streaked legs, or red,white and blue mottled ones?
All is vanity. . .